Nina Leykind, founder of cult beauty brand Eyeko takes five minutes out to chat to StyleNest.
We catch up with the lovely Nina Leykind to take business, motherhood and hanging out with Alexa Chung.
You founded beauty brand Eyeko with your husband Max. Tell us a little about your journey and how you got into the beauty industry?
I started out running my own PR company before switching to brands. Max is the natural entrepreneur as he dropped out of NYU to help his friends start cult US brand Hard Candy in the 90s in LA, which is how we met because I did the PR for Hard Candy in London. As I studied Fine Art I’m also very immersed in everything visual and a complete make up junkie so meeting Max was really the catalyst for us to create our own brands together.
Style icon Alexa Chung has just co-created a collection for Eyeko. What was she like to work with and why did you choose Alexa?
The collection is all about the eyes, that’s our focus. We love that Alexa had been using Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner for years to create her signature cat eye look and when we met in person getting her onboard was a no-brainer. Working together, has been a very organic process. Alexa is an eye obsessive like us and so detail orientated. She reigns us in too if we get too crazy, as sometimes Alexa will look at our NPD plans and say that we’re too ahead of our time and people aren’t ready for that yet.
Did the two of you swap any style or shopping tips?
We’re both obsessed with navy blue jumpers – I abandoned black years ago so all I wear is navy blue and school uniform colours in general. Make-up wise, we both play up our eyes and we both love a 60s aesthetic. We’re in sync with our girl crushes looking to Twiggy, Anna Karina and Francoise Hardy as our eye-cons.
Eyeko has a cult celeb and industry following, from the likes of makeup artist Lisa Eldridge to designer L’Wren Scott. How does it feel for such recognised people to celebrate your brand?
It’s amazing to have the brand endorsed by make-up artists I admire like Lisa Eldridge, Kay Montano and Mary Greenwell. They have been beyond supportive of our brand and not only have Eyeko in their kit but use it on themselves too. It’s also lovely to hear they recommend our products to their red carpet clients like Gemma Arterton, Thandie Newton and Salma Hayek. But really anyone who tells me they wear Eyeko, famous or not, makes me deliriously happy.
What are your three must-have makeup products?
Eyeko Black Magic Mascara, Eyeko Brow Gel and Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner.
What beauty trends are going to be big this season?
I think eye make-up as an accessory to fashion, whether it’s colour, graphic lines or false lashes. Eyes really are growing and taking over the nail trends that have dominated the catwalks for the last few seasons.
Any top tips on how to translate them from the catwalk to the everyday?
Our liquid eyeliners are so easy to use even for a cat eye novice. Alexa loves a cat eye because it goes with any outfit and takes you from day to night. I’m such a mascara girl, right now I’m wearing extra coats and tight-lining my eyes. It’s basically an invisible liner look where you line the top inner lid of your eye to really thicken up your lash line.
What skincare products do you swear by?
I tend to switch up my skincare and don’t stick to any one particular brand. Right now I’m loving Ole Henriksen Truth Serum and Invigorating Night Gel.
What advice would you give to other women wanting to start up their own brand?
Don’t overthink it. I think as women we have a tendency to talk ourselves out of doing things but at the same time we have natural qualities that make us the ideal entrepreneurs. We are so good at juggling, working hard, being persuasive, networking and never giving up – so go for it.
Your business partner Max is also your husband. What’s it like working with your other half?
I see far too much of my husband but after so many years of marriage and working together it does mean we always have something to talk about. It’s become a very intuitive process and our individual skill sets really complement each other. It’s also a big plus for business trips that we get to experience new cultures and ways of doing business together.
You’re a mum too. How do you juggle motherhood with such a hectic work schedule.
I’m luckier than most working mums as I can dictate my own schedule and be flexible. Working with my husband means we can do the school run and spend time with our children too. Business travel tends to be a bit of a relay race but if we’re travelling together our parents look after the kids.
Have you any trips coming up?
I’m a typical Sagittarius, so I love to travel. I’m back and forth to the US every month or so, and this year we’ve got trips lined up for our Eyeko launches in Brazil and Japan. I’ve clocked up so many air miles I’m hoping to go somewhere exotic with the kids, maybe the Maldives. My little boy is studying the green house effect in science and wants to see the islands before they disappear.
Describe your fashion style in three words.
Eclectic. Relaxed. Luxe.
How would you spend your perfect day?
I’m such a beach bunny so anywhere with sun, sea, sand and champagne.
Finally, what’s next for Eyeko?
We’re excited to be adding some colour to our mix of award-winning mascaras and liners. With Alexa, we’ve got lots of exciting new launches planned including our new shadow liners. In typical Eyeko fashion these make wearing eye shadow effortless, especially with Alexa’s choice of wearable shades.