The Ciaté founder discusses her new makeup line and partnership with Olivia Palermo.
Charlotte Knight made a name for herself backstage at runway shows. A talented nail technician, she would mix polishes to create custom colors. Eventually, she started selling these creations, and Ciaté was born. Responsible for bringing major trends like caviar manicures to the mainstream, Knight spoke to The Sephora Glossy about her next big move: makeup. BECKY PEDERSON
What’s your first beauty memory?
Well, it would probably be painting nails, actually (laughs). I used to be obsessed with nail polish at home and would get anything I could of my mother’s. I was probably about three years of age. I used to get in trouble all the time. But probably when I was six or seven, I used to try to mix other things. I would mix the paint you use at school and then put it on my nails.
Why did you decide to launch your own company?
I was a nail technician for years and traveled the globe doing fashion week in Paris and New York and London and whatnot. I just was so mesmerized by the industry. I’ve always, always been into design. I had this dream to be into interior design and work with paint—not necessarily with nail polish but with paint and all those pigments and pearls.
Working backstage, I used to mix colors and play with the pigments. And everybody used to say, “Oh, I really love that color.” So I would hand mix colors and give them to people, and I would always tie a little black bow around the jar. It got quite silly. Each week I’d have three or four requests for a custom color.
I really, really just wanted to create a small line of polishes that I could have in my kit, which I could sell in some boutique stores around the world, and that would be it. They would be something that I could be proud of and I could almost realize this [interior designer] ambition that I had. I launched a range of 12 colors, and the rest is history, as they say. I never set out to have the size of brand that I have today. It’s just something that has happened.
What led you to expand from nails to a makeup line?
That has been a kind of innate strategy for the last three years. We always knew that it’s what we wanted to do. As much as we work with pigments and pearls in nails—and, obviously, we created a textured caviar nail and made a real trend out of that 3D effect—there’s so much more you can achieve with makeup.
Can you walk me through the collection?
So the collection has 83 products. It’s really around eyes, lips, and blush. And we have all sorts of textures that give you different looks.
[In the research and development process], we took every product that we use on a daily basis and talked about what annoys us about the product. When you’re wearing a lip gloss, for example, your hair ends up in it. So we created a lip balm—because everyone loves to have moisturizing, repairing lip balms where you don’t have to compromise on the glossy finish—it’s called Lip Lustre High Shine Balm.
Then we have the Lip Chalk Matte Lip Crayon and the Liquid Velvet Matte Lip Slick. They’re long-lasting matte textures that don’t dry out your lips, but they’ve also got a massive, massive pigment load.
The Kiss Play Stay lipstick seal is just remarkable. One of my biggest makeup woes is when you’ve got a big morning meeting, and you’ve got your coffee and, by the time you end up in the meeting room, there’s more lipstick on the coffee cup than there is on your lips. It’s the most unattractive thing for me. And then you’ll try to put the cup back to your lips because you think, “That lipstick is now going to go on my chin or my face.” So we created a product that basically stops that from happening. You just put it all around the lip liner and on your lips and it takes literally 10 seconds to dry. It passes the coffee cup challenge.
And then we have products for the eyes, like Skinny Shadow Stick Shimmer Eyeshadows. You point the applicator down, the product loads into the sponge tip, and then you can basically achieve an entire smoky eye using a couple of different shades.
Then there’s Double Lines, which is a double-ended eyeliner with the liquid liner on one end and the felt tip liner on the other end. It’s a real fusion of East-meets-West.
Oh, the last things I need to tell you about are the Blush Pop Crème Blush and Glow Pop Crème Highlighter and Bronzer. They each come in a super chic ergonomic dome applicator. You pop one onto your cheeks and then blend it in. It’s a quick way to wear color in a cream-powder finish.
What beauty trends do you find particularly inspiring?
One trend is the customer being able to be involved in some of the creation of the product, customizing it in some way. They want it to be personalized to them, exactly their match. And they’re definitely educated, and so they know what they’re buying is exactly what they need.
With the makeup it’s obviously harder. But we wanted to do it, so we created the Lip & Mix Lip Pigment, where people can mix the pigments together to create unique shades.
I’ve been seeing a lot of Ciaté photos with Olivia Palermo. What’s your relationship to her?
We just announced her as our Guest Creative Director. We have always crushed over Olivia’s style, her beautiful elegance, and her ability to just rock out any outfit and turn it on for any occasion. And when we were thinking, “Who is our Ciaté girl? Who epitomizes Ciaté?” It was Olivia. Every single time we just all kept going back to Olivia.
She’s working with us on many facets of the brand and bringing in her style. It’s a fashionable, worldly knowledge. We’re creating four collections with her. She’s designed the packaging and chosen a lot of the shades and textures. And yeah, we just think it’s a perfect partnership.