She’s the woman behind Zoeva — the cult beauty brand that’s a favourite of makeup artists and beauty influencers alike.
Zoe Boikou, founder of the eBay store turned global makeup empire, recently sat down with Gritty Pretty to talk about trendsetting, business lessons and the Zoeva woman.
Gritty Pretty: Hi Zoe! You started your eBay store over ten years ago and let’s just say it went kind of gangbusters! What do you think it was about Zoeva that resonated so strongly and quickly with customers?
Zoe Boikou: I think it’s because I was driven by purpose. I created products that I couldn’t find myself. That means I wanted to have a high-quality brush with a beautiful design and affordable price. I think those three criteria were the main reasons why customers fell in love with the products and started to buy them.
GP: You ran Zoeva by yourself for three years, which would have been quite challenging. You’re now in 80 countries and have a lot more staff. How did you find global expansion and what did you learn from the process?
ZB: That was definitely a time when I started to learn everything about the retail business. Original perspectives, supply chains, how to design a display, how to adapt the outer packaging to retail regulations and everything that goes along with it.
We received a request from Sephora Australia when they launched in 2015. They said they loved our brand and were interested in listing and stocking our products. I flew over immediately, I had the meeting and said, ‘Okay, let’s do this!’ and within three months… we launched the brand. My gut feeling told me to do it.
Image: Zoeva founder, Zoe Boikou.
GP: That would have definitely resonated here because we didn’t have access to a lot of international brands back then. You speak a lot about affordability, why is that so important to you?
ZB: Back when I started using makeup, I was 18 years old. I had a low income and I couldn’t afford to purchase from the high-end brands that I lusted over. When I had the opportunity to create my own brand I thought, ‘Okay, what is important for me and what do I want to achieve?’ Affordability was one big criterion. I just started thinking about why so many cosmetic products were so expensive. Everyone should be able to experience high quality products without having to pay a fortune for them.
GP: Aside from being affordable, what else did you have in mind when starting Zoeva? Who is the Zoeva woman?
ZB: She is a strong woman, an independent woman, a free spirit and also a very contemporary woman. She wants to use makeup as a medium to tell her own story and express her own individual beauty — she doesn’t want to be dictated by views or what looks can achieve.
GP: You have quite a specific vision for who your customer is. Have you found this has helped you stay true to your vision for Zoeva, particularly following the rise of social media and Instagram beauty trends?
ZB: We are not a trendsetter brand. We create beautiful products that I want everyone to feel free to express themselves through and discover the looks they want to create. The reason we have existed for so long is because we are an indie brand that has the freedom to create what we want and create the products we would like ourselves, or that we feel are missing in the market.
I think it’s very important to stay true to who you are, despite the fact that it’s tempting to jump on trends. I think our fans and our loyal customers are going to appreciate respecting ourselves and not trying to do everything. Not everyone can be good at everything.
Image: Zoeva’s bestselling makeup brushes.
GP: Speaking of Zoeva products, you recently released the Authentik Skin Foundation. What sets this foundation apart from the rest?
ZB: It was very important to me to create a lightweight formula that worked for many women — it can be built up for a heavier coverage, or can create a long-lasting natural finish that is adaptable dry skins, oily skins, and everything in-between. When I started to create the shades, it was also a given for me to be inclusive. I believe that inclusivity should not be a trend, but permanent.
GP: Which products can you not live without?
ZB: I can’t live without our eyebrow pencils ever since I brought them into the collection. It’s a microfine pencil which is retractable and long lasting, and it looks very natural.
I also love our 104 Buffer Brush, our Authentik Skin Foundation… and our eyeshadow palette called Cocoa Blend. The 227 Soft Definer Brush is my favourite eyeshadow brush because it can apply and blend with one brush so it’s very quick. I’m all about a quick application — it has to be easy and effortless. Who has one hour to spend in front of the mirror in the morning?
GP: Finally, you were one of the first beauty brands to grow exponentially thanks to the power of social media. What are your thoughts regarding the phenomenon?
“Without social media, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I am very thankful for it, and for our customers for sharing their opinion and helping us to become better — without feedback, we cannot develop. It’s important to listen to where you can improve and overall, despite the cosmetics industry being so crowded now, I would say stay true to who you are, It’s good to know what’s going on on the left and right side of you, but always stay focused on what your purpose is, your vision and your customer and in the end it will pay off.”
Tell us, have you tried Zoeva’s cult-favourite makeup brushes? And who would you like to see us interview next?