“It’s the worst feeling in the world when you go into a store and you try on a product that looks ashy and wrong on your skin. I wanted to create products that could take away that feeling,” says Florence Adepoju, founder of MDMFlow when we meet at Dalston's cutest record store, Eldica. Launched three years ago, the Essex-born Adepoju has created a cult line of lipsticks and liquid matte lipsticks (and one mascara) that are designed to look bright and beautiful on all skin tones. “I felt that traditional beauty brands didn’t create colours that represented me. With my brand I have bright beautiful colours like blue, black, bright pink and a bold nude that show up on everyone’s skin.”
MDMFlow is a brand that exists in the hinterland between luxury and urban. The products combine high-pigment, rose-scented quality with a decidedly hip hop-influenced palette and design. Starting out working on beauty counters, Adepoju notes how “the beauty industry is quite historical in how it creates itself, reproducing products that have been successful in the past.” Frustrated by the range of lipstick colours on sale and after studying cosmetic science at London College of Fashion, Adepoju started making the lipsticks in her garden shed and each was handmade and packaged by her, until recently, when demand became so high she moved into manufacture. The luxury Parisian store Colette were among the first to stock the line, and now you can also purchase them from Nasty Gal and Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, as well as online.
Nestled among the towering displays of vintage vinyl, CDs and knickknacks, Adepoju explains that the colour range is kept deliberately small, with around 10 lipsticks and eight liquid mattes, including a fabulous new grey, a milkshake pink and a bright, brilliant blue. The small range means that women feel less confused than when shown eight different shades of red, “I want women to feel empowered in their choices, not scared. I don’t want anyone to buy one of my products and feel like they were forced to spend money on something they didn’t want.”
Encased in beautiful gold tubes, the lipsticks look like shining bullet cases. “The packaging takes a lot of inspiration from the 1990s,” continues Adepoju as she flicks through the hip-hop vinyl, “the way hip hop artists presented themselves was so expressive, so outrageous.” And the product shades take their names from these hip hop and R & B influences, with colours like Sweet Escape (the Gwen Stefani song), Billionaire (a riff on Kelis’s Millionaire) and Empire State (an allusion to the Jay-Z song). “When I was in school I felt really empowered by Lisa “Left-eye” Lopez. When the video for her song Block Party came out it made me feel like I am not the only weirdo black girl in the world. It made me feel like this is my tribe. I am one of those girls.”
MDMflow products are available to buy online. Eldica record store is open Tuesdays 11am-7pm, Thursday-Saturday 11am-7pm, Sunday 12-5.30pm and is closed Mondays and Wednesdays.