[interview] Behind Caliray's Launch

From left: Caliray was founded by Jenna Dover, the brand's 'vibeolo­gist,' and Wende Zomnir, founder of Urban Decay.
From left: Caliray was founded by Jenna Dover, the brand's "vibeolo­gist," and Wende Zomnir, founder of Urban Decay.

Caliray has launched its debut products—the Come Hell or High Water clean mascara and Surfproof Easy Glider Eye Definer Clean waterproof pencil. The brand was founded by Wende Zomnir, founder of Urban Decay, and Jenna Dover, the brand's so-called "vibeologist."

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The mascara costs $24 for the full size and $13 for the travel size. It contains 2% argan oil, film-forming agents for elongating lashes, a triple wax mix for flexible texture and tubing technology for easy roll-off removal.

The waterproof pencil is wrapped in a sugarcane barrel. It is made with ceramides, margarita powder (AKA pearl powder) and waterline-safe pigments. It comes in three shades and costs $20.

Global Cosmetic Industry recently interviewed Zomnir about the new brand and what’s next for Caliray.

What was the inspiration behind the West Coast ethos of the brand?

WZ: While building Urban Decay, I was traveling the world and launching new markets and I really felt like every question out of every journalist or customer’s mouth was about surfing and the California lifestyle.

I realized that there is this real fascination with California, the west coast and the archetypal freedom that it implies. It made me think a lot about the lifestyle in terms of beauty–I always think about things in terms of beauty!

This sparked my interest in creating a brand that captured that free spirit of California, and that's how Caliray was conceptualized.

We have established our clean standards very closely to the clean ingredient list at major beauty retailers.

Clean means different things to different people–how does Caliray define clean?

WZ: To us, clean beauty means minimizing our global impact, using nontoxic ingredients and being transparent with our consumers about what they are putting on their skin everyday.

We formulate without parabens sulfates, phthalates, harsh, drying alcohols, nanomaterials, microplastics or formaldehyde. We have established our clean standards very closely to the clean ingredient list at major beauty retailers.

The brand has started out with eye categories. What's next for the brand in terms of product sectors?

WZ: When launching Caliray, I felt that in the clean space there aren't a lot of performance pieces. I felt that there needed to be basics that were high-performance and also sustainable, without compromising one for the other.

For the future, we are thinking about the wellness sector and embracing sustainability through that as well.

What is the brand's distribution plan? D2C only? Retail partnerships?

WZ: We are currently selling our products on caliraybeauty.com, but we are definitely talking to retailers about the future. 

These things tend to be an awesome creative process but without that discipline and planning, it makes it harder to grow later.

How has your approach to the Caliray launch differed from the way Urban Decay was conceived and grown? What key things are different about founding a brand in 2021?

WZ: One of the things I did differently this time was to invest in a really strong operational person from the start–I think that is one of the most important things you could do.

The other thing I did was really involve my husband in the process. He is the ex-CEO of Volcom, and he has been through a lot with them, so it has been great to have him part of our team and the backbone who puts the purpose and discipline in right from the get go.

These things tend to be an awesome creative process but without that discipline and planning, it makes it harder to grow later.

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