Francine Reich is the Brand Manager for Make-Up Designory Cosmetics. She began working for MUD as the store manager in 1998, and studied make-up and worked as a freelance artist in the early nineties. She has also been a licensed Cosmetologist for nearly 30 years. With the company’s decision to design, create and manufacture our own line of professional cosmetics, she has been an integral part of our success. Francine has supervised the creation and quality management of every product produced by MUD.
Q: Did you go to MUD? If not, what type of make-up education did you receive?
A: I wish MUD had been around when I was in school! I attended a couple of schools and completed a full course in 1990. I also got my cosmetology license at the same time.
Q: What was missing from the schools you attended?
A: Student support, relevance, preparation for real-life make-up jobs, thoroughness, the list goes on.
Q: How did you get connected with MUD?
A: I worked with the founders of MUD at a previous school. When I left that school, I worked for an industry beauty supply store. When MUD was formed a few months later, Tate [MUD’s CEO] contacted me to help with student kits and supplies. I started off part-time until they hired me on as a full-time employee in August of ’98. My job was to assemble kits and open the first MUD Shop. I was thrilled! Our crew was skeletal so we all wore a variety of hats in the beginning. It didn’t matter to me what I did, I just knew I wanted to be a part of this small family that soon became an extension of my own family.
Q: What was the first MUD Shop like?
A: Picture the size of a walk-in closet: small! I had room for a few make-up cases and some loose items on the shelves, and kits surrounded me on the floor. It matched our student population and needs at that time though. We rented an old hair salon as one of our classrooms and the store was in the front of the classroom. In a sense, I guess you could say I attended MUD because I was in the same room as them and got unsolicited refresher courses daily.
Q: How did it feel when MUD went global? You were a part of that initial conversation to open the MUD Studio brand. What was it like going to a MUD Studio for the first time?
A: It was exciting to know that “mini MUDs” would be all over the world. Visiting for the first time was kind of surreal. I never realized how big we were until I saw a MUD Studio. People wanted to be a part of this and trusted our brand enough to create their own. It was very humbling.
Q: What was the first product MUD created?
A: The student population was growing and so was the demand for consistent formulas and inventory. We had a micro budget, but we needed to start somewhere, so I met with chemists and gave them our requirements. We started with a handful of eye and cheek colors. It was the beginning of a whole new world for me and I loved it!
Q: What makes MUD products special?
A: I would say the research and development behind each product makes it a unique brand. Our testing process is rigorous! When I get a sample, I send it to our instructors to test first. If it passes their standards as instructors and make-up artists, I then pass it on to our staff who are not make-up artists, but actual consumers. It needs to function on all levels, not just professional.
Q: What is your main area of focus when creating a new product?
A: The need and demand are our primary focuses. Temporary trends fade in and out so quickly. We do look at trends, but overall, we create products that will have longevity with the line and work for both pros and consumers.
Q: What is your favorite MUD product that you have created?
A: The Eyebrow Cream – it’s something we have been missing for a long time. It took years to create, but we refused to settle for anything less than what we were after. We went back and forth with samples that either dried out, smudged, or had no payoff at all. Now we have a product that is not reliant on any special packaging and creates the closest thing to natural looking brows (without using fibers) that I’ve ever worked with. Plus, the colors are much more realistic to natural hair than the warm tones you find out there.
Q: When you started 20 years ago, did you foresee what MUD would become?
A: Not at all! I was in my 20s and ready for something new and exciting, but I had no clue if it would last. When I was first approached by Tate with this idea I was a little scared, but I trusted he knew what he was doing so I was on board. He had a vision that maybe some of us couldn’t see at the time, but his instincts seem to always be right, and here we are 20 years later. I am grateful they brought me on and gave me this opportunity, it’s been a trip.
Q: Where do you see MUD in the future?
A: It’s fascinating to see how many esthetician and cosmetology schools seek out our cosmetics and curriculum. It’s a good niche and the demand has been growing like crazy! I think keeping the focus on education and continuing to create a line that works for everybody is what has gotten us this far, so keeping on that course seems to be the direction we are headed. MUD Studios would also be a great addition in some of the larger U.S. cities for students that are unable to get to LA or New York.