i couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce today’s rad lady, kim damio of portland black lipstick company who i met last month at the unmentionable lingerie show. already the owner of PBLC’s classic black lipstick, i was delighted to be able to see all of her colors up close and personal. so much so, i added a few more shades to my collection- most notably bad penny, a gorgeous creamy-metallic copper that has become my go-to lipstick as of late. maybe it’s the old goth in me that was initially attracted to portland black lipstick’s wares but don’t be scared, there really is a shade for everyone and i’m telling you, you’ll be hard pressed to find another brand offering up the natural, high quality ingredients and awesome wearability that you’ll get in a PBLC lipstick. i haven’t even mentioned yet just how lovely and sweet kim is! she totally is. read on to find out how she got started, how she comes up with colors, and her fave hot dog joint (it’s mine too!) -
VGS: how did portland black lipstick co. get its start?
Kim: PBLC has only existed for a few years, but I had been making cosmetics for many years prior to starting the company. I really enjoyed it as a hobby and never really thought it would become my full time job!! I mainly sold my makeup at events—which was really fun, since it offered me a chance to talk with people about my craft and to trade with other vendors. Some local boutiques started selling my lipsticks around that time as well. Then my friends encouraged me to go online and the internet side of the business grew from there.
VGS: do you have a background in chemistry or did you learn to formulate cosmetics through trial and error?
Kim: I don’t have a formal background in chemistry, but I’ve been picking it up on an amateur level for some time now because it helps me avoid mistakes in formulation. When I first started making cosmetics I relied much more on trial and error (and less on research.) I would love to study chemistry in a classroom environment—as soon as I have time, I plan on doing just that!! My educational background is mostly philosophy and foreign language.
VGS: what was your process in deciding on your current color line up?
Kim: Originally I worked on what I wanted to wear—I just could not find a black lipstick that used all-natural ingredients!! I kept mixing more and more colors and eventually got to the point where I’d see a pigment and think ‘I bet I could make a good lip color with that!!’ I tend towards wearing black, blues, greens, greys, etc., but I truly enjoy the challenge and aesthetics involved in mixing other colors. Sometimes my colors are the result of requests from friends and/or customers.
VGS: what are your thoughts on portland’s maker scene?
Kim: I love it—people are really open to making just about anything here!
VGS: what is your biggest source of inspiration currently?
Kim: I’ve been really into historical recipes, some of which may translate into new products and some of which are just fun projects. There are so many extant recipes from the late Victorian period alone—I feel like I could experiment forever and never get bored!!
VGS: what challenges do you face in staying motivated and how do you overcome them?
Kim: As anyone with their own business knows, it can be a little overwhelming at times!! Thankfully, there are lots of things that keep me motivated. I really love what I do and I’m truly grateful that I can make my living this way. It’s always encouraging to get feedback from customers–to hear back from people. I find that research and development is good for avoiding monotony. If I feel like I’m doing too much repetitious work, then I might mix up a new lip color or try a new face cream recipe.
VGS: what can we expect from portland black lipstick co. in the future?
Kim: More historical recreations and some new lip colors!! Colors of particular interest include pumpkin, drab violet, icy blue, and golden red…
VGS: what’s your favorite burger spot?
Kim: Honestly, I’m currently more into hot dogs and my favorite place for those is Zach’s Shack :)
- my own fledgling PBLC collection L to R : bad penny, purple cloud, pewter cauldron and black -
- follow kim / PBLC on facebook and purchase PBLC via etsy & yo! vintage -