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logoButter London, OCC Cosmetics, Youngblood, Lime Crime, E.L.F, Lippy Girl, Bite Beauty – these make up brands belong in the purse of every cruelty-free beauty loving woman wherever you live. Unfortunately for those of us living in Australia, these cult cruelty-free brands can be hard to find. Lipstick Republic stocks a huge range of amazing brands and it is all thanks to one incredible woman’s hard work!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and who you are?
Hi! I’m Michelle. I’m 32 years old (buh!) and I am the owner of an online cosmetics store called Lipstick Republic which I operate from home. Born and raised in Melbourne to Cypriot/Spanish parents which I believe has made me both head strong (some might say stubborn) creative and determined!  I’ve had many years in Retail and the Service industry in general which is why I am so Customer Service driven in my business. I am not a makeup artist unfortunately, just an extreme enthusiast!

What prompted you to start Lipstick Republic?
Well, the idea behind Lipstick Republic began after I moved to Canada briefly.  And by briefly, I mean a whopping 5 months…Long time huh?  But during that time, I got the opportunity to visit New York City and experience brands and stores that are not available to Australians.  Companies like Sephora (which I think I spent around $3000 with in my 10 day stay in NYC) and brands such as Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics which I immediately fell in love with!  So upon returning to Australia and experiencing some extreme NYC withdrawals, I decided to make it my mission to import these brands to Oz.  Sell these amazing brands at prices that are on par with their overseas equivalent rather than the highly inflated price that we often see with brands in Australia. A task that proved to be a little harder than I first thought, but we are getting there!
What is the most exciting thing that has happened with Lipstick Republic so far?
Quite honestly, it is the love and support of all our customers.  For real, I think we have some of the most loyal, supportive and creative customers out there! I really thought that it would take some time to get the LR brand out there but everyone has been super encouraging and has helped get our name out there as much as possible.  I’m often getting emails from people just to say thank you. It reminds me why I love what I do.
What has been some of the hardest barriers that you have found with starting and running Lipstick Republic?
Besides advertising with a ZERO dollar budget? The hardest hurdle that I have found in creating my vision for Lipstick Republic is stocking our most loved brands! Unfortunately most of the bigger organisations are extremely reluctant to supply their product to an online retailer.  The perception is that online stores heavily discount their product, and therefore diminishing the prestigious reputation of their brand.  And I agree!  It’s often the case…However I don’t envision Lipstick Republic as the go to “discount” store, more the kind of store that you would go to, to find the “Rare to find in Australia” brands.  And brands with a Cruelty Free moral stance!

What is next for Lipstick Republic?
World Domination! Haha Well there really is a lot of things that I am looking at.  Besides obviously growing the business further I would LOVE to develop our own Lipstick Republic branded makeup line (Vegan & Cruelty Free of course!)…And who knows, one day a real life store front! One can dream hey?

What would be your favourite product that you sell on the site?
Without a doubt the OCC Lip Tar’s and the Saucebox Eye shadows….They are divine! The quality and price in comparison to some of your more “Cult” brands are just exceptional! I find it hard to live without them now!

Who would your dream cosmetic labels to stock be?
I would love to be stocking brands like Urban Decay, SugarPill & Ben Nye in the near future! We are working on it!

Describe your skincare and makeup routines?
We could be here all day!

I tend to keep the majority of my routine fairly simple. When I began testing the One Skin System brand to carry at Lipstick Republic I quickly realised that my skin couldn’t survive without it.  It is absolutely perfect for me and my European combination skin. The Cleanser, scrub and moisturiser are a must!

As far as makeup goes, I keep it overall pretty Neutral but with intense dark eyes. Eyes are the windows to the soul right? So I like to keep them standing out! My go to foundation is the Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics Liquid and Loose Powder foundations (in love), Eye of Horus Mascara, Sleek Dip It Liner, Lime Crime Eye Primer, SauceBox/Sleek Shadows, Sleek Contour Kit in Light and their GLO bronzer and Highlighter, and of course my fave OCC Lip Tar in Trollop for when I’m out and about…Otherwise I can’t get enough of the Lippy Girl Conditioning stick and all its minty goodness!  I know, I know all stuff that I carry at Lipstick Republic…But I stand by the products I sell, I sell them because I love them!

What advice would you want to give to someone wanting to switch to a cruelty free cosmetic routine?
It’s really not that hard to switch to a Cruelty Free cosmetic routine.  There are tons of brands out there that don’t test on animals.  My best advice…Do your research! Sadly we still live in a world where testing on animals is perfectly acceptable practice in some countries.  And not all brands are forth coming with the facts, so it pays to refer to sites such as Choose Cruelty Free (http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/) and Peta (http://www.peta.org/) for more information.  I have been living the Cruelty Free life for about 5 years now, not just because I adore animals but I hardly think that we should be testing and smearing animal products across our faces for the sake of beauty.