As Erika Geraerts sat down across from us in a large conference room with mismatched chairs, it’s clear that It’s All Fluff is not a regular beauty brand.
“It's funny because I wouldn't say that I'm obsessed with beauty at all or that I'm inherently drawn to the beauty industry,” noted Geraerts. We are in the offices of creative agency Love + Money, on Melbourne’s Gertrude Street, which share a premises with It’s All Fluff and have helped create much of the brand’s visual identity.
“I really struggle saying to people that I have a make-up brand, because Fluff feels like so much more than that,” highlighted Geraerts.
Take a look at Geraerts’s CV, and it’s not all that surprising that she has launched a make-up brand. One of the co-founders of natural beauty brand Frank Body, Geraerts has climbed to the peak of the beauty industry, only to once again start from base camp. While Frank Body has its babes and cheeky sense of fun, It’s All Fluff is warped and questioning, just like a reflection caught in the case of its first product, a bronzing powder.
“During the time I was at Frank I was exposed to so much in the beauty industry and there was no brand that spoke to the younger generation, anyone from 13 to 22,” reflected Geraerts. “Brands that talk to that age group, they talk down to them, like they're tweens, they don't know what they're doing, but they're so interesting and I love talking to them.”
Targeting this generation of social media natives, who have never known a life not online, and who are able to see through the messaging of any brand, might sound like an impossible task, but in developing the It’s All Fluff brand, Geraerts turned the tables.
“We spent the first probably year and a half talking to girls within Melbourne and overseas about what they wanted, so in person and online.”
The fruits of these conversations can be seen in the Issues section of the Fluff website, and in their printed zine that was distributed around Melbourne and sent out with every order. Here, young girls reflect on life, love and health, often all in the one piece, across poetry, experimental non-fiction and memoir. Here, the issues afflicting this generation are laid out, dissected and exposed, not hidden or transformed. Speaking about the deeper reasons behind this initiative, Geraerts said, “There's so much research about rising rates of depression and suicide, especially in younger women and men. I knew that brands could be more responsible with the message they were putting out there.”
To date, Fluff has two products, a bronzing powder and a matching kabuki brush. Also on its store are beanies, a bag, a magic eight ball and a combination lock. More beauty products are on the way, but the focus is on getting each one right, rather than rushing to market. All of Fluff’s products are palm oil free, an initiative that came about in an offhand remark, but has increasingly come to define Fluff’s approach.
“I'd obviously heard a few things about deforestation and that palm oil wasn't great and I was like, ‘Oh yeah of course, ok, let's not have palm oil in our products,’ not realising that it would be the bane of my existence for the last two years and still is,” recalled Geraerts.
Most cosmetics are manufactured in a few large factories, and the difference between brands and products is a few changes that happen at the last stage of production. Palm oil goes in at almost the first stage, so removing this base component changes the entire process.
“It's the base formula that manufacturers have worked with for so many years and for them to remove it from their manufacturing pipeline and will cost them a lot of money,” described Garaerts. “For us, as a really small start-up, being like please do that for our order of 5000 units, they just don't care.”
Geraerts and her team had to go about sourcing alternatives to this fundamental ingredient, which delayed the release of a full line of cosmetics at the launch. In some ways, however, this has become part of the brand’s identity, and launching with a bronzer, currently not the most popular make-up product, enabled Fluff to differentiate its approach to beauty.
“I wouldn’t say that Fluff isn't for the girl that watches three-hour beauty tutorials and it's not for the girl who wants to contour her face or look like Kim Kardashian; it's for the girl who has a really casual approach to her make-up and wants to still look like herself,” said Geraerts.
Not forgetting the person behind the face is at the core of Fluff, and is something that Geraerts wants to champion. Describing the intended product range, Geraerts pointed out that it will be “the basics without any heavy make-up that changes a girl's appearance or takes away the little things that make her, her. The freckles, or dimples, or a little bit of discolouration on her skin – we think that girls should own that and celebrate that as opposed to trying to hide it or cover it up.”
You can find It’s All Fluff here: https://itsallfluff.com