Day in the life of Illamasqua Founder, Julian Kynaston

Julian Kynaston is a legend within the beauty industry. He made ghd's a household name, launched branding consultancy Propaganda before creating cult cruelty-free makeup brand Illamasqua, pioneering self-expression and fighting prejudice one lipstick at a time.


With its art deco packaging, empowering advertising and pigments for days, the Illamasqua family is inclusive for all. So much so, before paying at the checkout, they ask you to agree to their Human Fundamentalism pledge: to never discriminate against race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. Can't promise that? Well, then they politely ask you to step away from the eyeshadow palette, and their store.


With the majority of the beauty bis putting profits first, Illamasqua is the activist makeup brand the industry needs. Supporting the Sophie Lancaster foundation since day one with their line S.O.P.H.I.E Illamasqua have always been committed to changing attitudes towards subcultures. More recently, the brand asked axed L’Oreal model Munroe Bergdorf to become their new face along with model Rain Dove. Championing gender fluidity and individuality as a given, Illamasqua proudly gives two fingers to the rest of the industry who choose to let makeup get in the way of human and animal rights.

Proudly promising to "stand proudly and unashamedly for diversity and equality", we're chatting with the founder Julian to check out exactly what he gets up to in an average day.

Hey Julian! Tell us a little bit about what you do?

Brand Builder. Marketing strategist. Market disrupter. Activist.

How did you get into this business?

Borrowed £500 on a credit card and started a design agency in pursuit of a flash office!

I’d been building brands for other people for years, most famously ghd, and I thought it was about time to build one of my own. The cosmetics industry interested me for two reasons. Firstly people kept on telling me that it was an impossible market to penetrate due to the absolute dominance of the French houses, namely L’Oreal, Lauder, LVMH and Chanel. Secondly I had witnessed an event in Whitby, where I was really quite moved by the way make-up was being worn by boys and girls, men and women, as a part of the alternative scene.

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If you weren't doing this, what do you think you'd be doing?

Be in a punk band.

Do you have a life motto / mantra?

Go big or go home

Take us through a typical day. What time do you get up at?

6:45 - personal trainer takes me through an hours hell
7-8. Work for 9 in Leeds or travel to London for midday if it's a London day. Work until finished, Home. Walk dogs. Work in home office ( list making for tomorrow )
Box set of choice.
Bed at 10.

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How do you keep yourself organised?

I have an amazing PA who runs my life. Jo has worked with me for 11 years. She is now family.

How do you keep yourself going through a humpday?

See above - PA to the rescue!

What time do you finish?

When I've done. Always the case with business.

Biggest misconception about the job you do?

It looks entirely 'creative' but as with all business there is lots of client hassle and cash chasing!

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How do you wind down?

Dog walking, lots and lots of gigs.

What's your favourite thing about what you do?

Smashing glass ceilings. Challenging the big brands through out thinking them, not out spending them.

Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Keep a very close team around you.

Illamasqua have just launched a new campaign with Munroe Bergdorf, the two have worked together before and we can't wait to see what they create together! Get the full story on their collaboration here.

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Sheri Scott, also known as the orange hair and glasses behind leading Scottish based fashion and lifestyle blog, Forever Yours Betty.
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