In her first tutorial upload to YouTube, Indian-American on-air beauty expert Deepica Mutyala takes a friendly and simple approach to contouring. It's not over-the-top. She uses her day-to-day products. The lighting... could be better. It's her barebones, barefaced entry to the world of YouTube. Never in a million years did she think millions of people would tune in. But they did.
"I grew up in a South Asian community in Texas," shares Deepica, "where two things were always clear to me: my love of beauty and obsession with the Big Apple." Though her father wanted her to be a doctor, Deepica landed a college internship at L'Oreal launching her into the beauty world. She most recently worked as the Senior Manager of Brand & Product Development at Birchbox, where she was exposed to a rolodex of contacts and measurable experience.
It was at the beauty box brand that Deepica started doing on-camera makeup tutorials, soon realizing there was no reason she shouldn't launch her own channel. Doubt got in her way for a moment, but in January 2015 she faced the camera and launched with the premise of "beauty decoded." After talking about it for years, she finally stopped listening to the voice in her head. The one that told her she didn't have time or that she didn't know where to begin. "When I stopped listening to that voice," she explains, "and just started, my whole life changed."
Her second video "How to Cover Dark Under Eye Circles" went viral, with over 9 million views to date. "What started as a hobby," she says, "quickly turned into much more."
For Deepica beauty is a universal language, one that speaks to all women. "Since I was 16 years old, I told everyone in my life that I was going to create a global beauty product line catering to women of color. Every year that goes by, my eagerness to do that only escalates. Let’s just say, I won’t stop until I make that 16 year old girl’s dream into a reality."
More from Deepica below.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've encountered along the way?
My biggest challenge is that I want to do so much - sometimes I find myself taking on too much because of that. I don’t want to say ‘no’ to anything, but I really need to be smart with how I allocate my time. I’m only one person and I need to remember that! It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
What keeps you going?
Emails I get from young women telling me that I’ve inspired them in one way or another.
Who are the people you consider mentors and influences and why?
I have so many mentors/influencers from Jessica Alba (Honest Co.) to Hayley Barna (First Round Capital) to Payal Kadakia (ClassPass). But truthfully, my parents will always be the greatest source of inspiration. They came to this country and established a great life for my sister and me through hard work, will and love.
What is the best piece of real talk advice you've received?
I never take time to celebrate my wins - I’m not sure if it’s because I never want to be complacent or if it’s because my goals are still so much bigger. Either way, I don’t. I remember talking to my friend who is also an entrepreneur and I said “what if this all goes away tomorrow?” He simply said “...but what if it doesn’t?”
That response was not only refreshing but also gave me perspective. He followed up by saying, “Worst case scenario, it does, but everything you’ve achieved so far is more than most people could ever imagine. You should be proud of that.” It was such honest advice and has helped calm my anxiety but also keeps me motivated.
What is your favorite life advice?
Surround yourself with those who want to see you win.
Is there a time in your life when you thought, 'I can't do this anymore?'
Is ‘everyday’ a fair answer? Being an entrepreneur is an emotional roller coaster! You find yourself having the highest of highs and lowest of lows all within a 24-hour period, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes up for everything. I will say there was one specific moment pretty recently I remember thinking “is this all worth it?” but when you focus on the purpose of why you’re doing what you do, I made a decision to block out all the other noise and to keep going.
I actually have a folder in my inbox of all the emails I get from young women telling me that I’ve inspired them in one way or another. Those emails really keep me going and remind me that I can’t stop. There’s too much I want to achieve and change in the world for that to even be an option.
How has your relationship to you career changed in the last five years?
Five years ago, I told people I was going to be empowering women and working for myself. Five years before that, I told people I was going to live in NYC and work in the beauty industry. My point being that I’ve spoken everything that’s happened in my career into existence. The more I say it out loud, the more I’ve made others believe my vision, and the more it’s turned into a reality. Five years from now, I know I will be able to say the same. The key to my success in this has always been self-intent - I truly believe that.
International Women’s Day is coming up. It's a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. If you could steer the conversation around International Women’s Day, what would that dialogue be about?
There are so many conversations, but I think the one that hits home to me because of my culture is the importance of women in the workplace. Don’t ever feel like you have to stand behind a man. The strongest men will want you to stand beside them and win as well. You do not to take the back seat for anyone. Your voice is powerful and must be heard in the workplace but also in your personal life. We do not need to make sacrifices with our career for others. There are ways to find compromises and help us all achieve our goals.
What's on your career bucket list?
Create a global beauty product line catering to women of color.
What does female empowerment mean to you?
When I see a woman succeed, I can’t help but have a massive grin on my face. I find genuine happiness in seeing another woman win because I feel like if she wins, I am too. We are in this together. It’s important to remember that. There is room for us all to make it and the more we stick together, the stronger we are. All I want to do with my career is empower other women to go for their dreams and give them the opportunity to do so. What’s the point of having a platform otherwise?