As chief creative officer and founding partner, Wende leads the product development and creative vision for Urban Decay. (She also road-tests every product.) From our bestselling Eyeshadow Primer Potion to our new, Naked Smoky Palette, she sees everything through, from idea to finished product. It’s obvious she knows a thing or two about makeup.
If you’ve read about Wende before, you’re probably up to speed on her many loves (outside of makeup), like her husband and two sons, traveling and adventure-seeking (especially surfing and snowboarding). But do you know her beauty story? We sat down with her to get all the details.
At what age did you first experiment with makeup?
I was about two years old. I somehow got ahold of my mom’s mascara and applied it everywhere—mascara was all over me. There’s actually a picture of it in my high school yearbook!
Then, when I was around eight or nine, I found my mom’s makeup drawer and started looking through it. I distinctly remember the smell of her lipstick—it had that waxy smell, which is how they often smelled at that time. She also had this all-over face brush that I thought was giant, but looking at it now, I realize it’s so tiny compared to the brushes we use today. I was obsessed with the soft feel of that brush. From then on, I would always sneak into her drawer to try stuff.
But my real experimentation started when I was 13. That Christmas, my mom bought me one of those blockbuster makeup sets. It was from Calvin Klein’s cosmetics line and had all these different eyeshadows, blushes and lipsticks in it. All in a big, beautiful case. I would tape pictures to my mirror of Brooke Shields and Kim Alexis, and try to recreate their crazy ‘80s makeup—pink all the way up to my brow bone. It was pretty funny.
If you could only save three UD products out of the entire collection (the rest would magically vanish), what would they be?
Eyeshadow Primer Potion (I love that stuff!), F-Bomb Revolution Lipstick and Zero 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil. Those are always my major go-tos.
Which product do you get the most compliments for?
There are two: Zodiac Eyeshadow and Flash Eyeshadow.
What was the coolest thing a UD fan ever did for you?
I received a piece of fan mail from a woman who took a photo of me off our website, gave me the body of Angelina Jolie, and then took a giant lipstick and put it in my hand like it was a huge machine gun. She created this whole insane image. It made me look like I was makeup Rambo. It was the most awesome thing.
What was the coolest thing a UD fan ever said to you?
There’s an older woman I know who would tell me she didn’t feel pretty anymore and couldn’t wear makeup because it just runs down her face. I gave her a 24/7 Eye Pencil as a gift and asked her to try it. She wrote me the most heartfelt note saying how pretty she felt again! I love how what we do can be life-changing for some women.
What do you love most about the life you’ve created with UD?
I love watching the people who have been with me for a long time grow and develop. I just love the team. Of course the makeup part of it is amazing, but I really love the team that’s here and how we’re creating something amazing together.
Which product, past or current, are you most proud of?
It would have to be Enigma Eyeshadow Primer Potion because it’s tied to The Ultraviolet Edge. It’s a program where we’re doing something bigger and more important than what we do every day. We’re really changing the lives of women who need assistance and need empowerment. To get the brand to a place where we’re able to do things like that—that’s what makes me most proud.
Since starting Urban Decay, what has been your defining “I’ve made it” moment?
I felt that way when I received the CEW [Cosmetic Executive Women] Achiever Award. It felt like a moment in time. For so long, I felt like the established beauty industry didn’t really acknowledge who we were and what we had done as a brand. When I got that award, I knew they really recognized us for everything we have accomplished.