Deepica Mutyala: How a Red Lipstick Launched a Career

Photo by Erica Livoti

We all know lipsticks can change moods, but who knew it could be the start of a new career? That’s how it all began for beauty vlogger and on-air beauty expert, Deepica Mutyala. Growing up in Texas to a family married to the medical industry, Mutyala pursued her passion in the beauty industry. Attending the business school at the University of Texas, Mutyala majored in marketing to help her gain insight into pursuing this as a career path into beauty. With an internship at L’Oreal USA under her belt, a move to New York City, and finally a job at Birchbox, it wasn’t all rainbow and sprinkles in her journey but she made her dreams a reality.

Her YouTube video on “How to Cover Dark Under Eye Circles” using red lipstick created a new beauty (and life) hack for those struggling with discoloration of any sort. It seems as though overnight Mutyala was reaching millions of viewers each and every day teaching them about current beauty trends and other beauty hacks through various media outlets, including the TODAY Show.

I’ve personally been able to relate heavily to Mutyala’s journey and career path because I also come from a South Asian background. I too felt the need to pursue a career path that I knew wouldn’t be best for me. What inspires me most about Mutyala is her endless pursuit of her passion and stopping at nothing to achieve those dreams. This pushed me harder to pursue mine. Luckily, I had the opportunity with Young Hot & Modern to ask my burning questions to Mutyala.

Young Hot & Modern: Tell us the story! You come from a South Asian background with a family heavily involved in the medical field; what prompted you to pursue your passion in the beauty industry?

Deepica Mutyala: I was always that little girl grabbing a lipstick when my dad was trying to get me to grab a stethoscope. I think I always knew I was meant to do something different from what everyone in my family was doing. In their mind something different from a doctor meant a lawyer and if not that then an engineer.

My parents equated education to success and respect in America which I totally get. They just want to ensure their kids are going to be secure in life. I love them for that. I really, really do but I also knew that I could show them there are other ways to succeed. I guess you could say I was a stubborn kid. 😉

I had a passion for the beauty industry since I was a kid and always I told my parents I was going to one day own a makeup line. My idea of a fun time was staying in and just doing makeup on people. My dream job in high school was to work at a MAC counter. It was a hybrid of everything I loved doing: meeting people and makeup.

However, my dad opted against that and told me to study for the SAT exam instead! Going to college, I enrolled in the business school as a marketing major because I knew it would allow me to make my parents happy, but also let me pursue my interest in exploring the business side of beauty. I was always fascinated by the fact that there are thousands of beauty brands with new ones launching daily. The idea all of them can co-exist in their own way is so interesting to me. After a once-in-a-lifetime internship at L’Oréal USA in New York City my junior year, I knew that this was the space for me.

YHM: We’ve heard you talk a lot about your experience at Birchbox and the business side of beauty. Can you explain your journey to starting, not just a beauty vlog, but creating a business from it?

DM: Growing up, I remember wanting to change so many aspects of myself physically. I would look at magazines, watch TV, and go to the movies to see no one who looked like me. I felt like there was something wrong with me and found myself dying my hair blonde to change my appearance and even got blue colored contacts. It wasn’t a cute look!

I started my channel because I recognized there was a clear market need. I talked about starting a YouTube channel for five years but always found an excuse not to. I was either “too busy” or felt like it was “too late.” The excuses went on and on. Everyone told me the YouTube market was saturated, but I disagreed. I could count on my hand how many South Asians were making a name for themselves on YouTube.

I thought to myself, I could keep talking about this or just start my channel and see what happens. If nothing else, at least I had a hub for my family and friends to go to. In my mind, I thought that I could both sit around and wait for someone else to create opportunities in the media for South Asian women or I could pave the path for others.

I stopped making excuses and started my channel January 2015 while continuing my day job. I used my iPhone, had no idea how to edit a thing, and not a clue how to upload a thing to YouTube. My second video – which I filmed the wrong way – got picked up by BuzzFeed. Before I knew it, my video was at millions of views. I was being picked up by every media outlet worldwide and even received an email from the TODAY Show to come and demo my beauty trick. The day I received that email from the TODAY Show was the day I quit my job. I just felt like it was the sign I was looking for to pursue this full-time.

Photo by Erica Livoti

YHM: What was it like leaving BirchBox and the “security” of having a job?

DM: In one word; a roller coaster! The best way to describe working for yourself and being an entrepreneur is that you experience the highest highs and lowest lows but those highs make up for any lows.

The lows: 1. I had no idea how I was going to pay rent when I quit. What I did know was that I had an opportunity given to me by a viral video. I could let it be a fun “15 minutes” in my life or I could turn it into my dream career. I just knew I didn’t want to look back and wonder “what if.” 2. I was worried about disappointing my parents. To avoid that, I didn’t tell them I quit! LOL. My gut told me it was now or never and I didn’t want to stress out my family. 3. My success was completely dependent on me. There was no team. I was my own assistant, agent, manager, publicist, producer, social media manager, etc. It was literally 24/7 because if I turn off, so did my business.

The highs: the exact same as the lows. The fact that I didn’t know how I was going to pay rent, I worried about disappointing my parents, and that I was a one woman team – motivated me to work harder than I ever thought possible. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of and continue to every day. You develop a new level of self-belief, thick skin, and perseverance. That’s all really exciting.

I don’t wake up on a Monday dreading the week because the week really never ends. Yes, I work on weekends, but I’m doing what I love so it doesn’t bother me. Draining at times? Sure, but I wouldn’t change it for the world, I’ve now experienced the beauty industry at three different levels: the corporate side, the start-up side, and the self-employed side. I’m so grateful to have had all of those experiences as building blocks because I now understand this business from all perspectives.

YHM: We heard that you wanted to start a company that delivered personalized beauty products – now that you’ve worked at one of the top companies that do that; do you have any other beauty related products you’d like to create?

DM: So, so many – every business plan I wrote in college was on this topic and my mind is thinking about it all day every day. It’ll happen one day 😉

YHM: What were some of the roadblocks you faced as a growing YouTube sensation? Is there any advice you have for young women that have difficulty putting themselves out there or are afraid of any type of backlash/failures?

DM: It’s the pressure I put on myself. I felt this need to grow. The question everyone always asked me was “so what’s your next viral video going to be?” If I knew the answer to that I would have created it like five times over, but that’s not how this world works. The recipe to a successful YouTube channel comes down to three things: be authentic, post consistently, and collaborate with other creators. If you do this you’re golden.

YHM: Speaking of collaborations; you faced some negative feedback from your TODAY Show appearance with styling a natural hair model. We love your comeback by collaborating with natural hair enthusiasts—Kamie Crawford, Tiarra Monet, and Akilah Hughes. What inspires you to keep going and learning about your passion?

DM: I’ve realized through this journey how strong I am and that’s a powerful thing. I can’t and won’t allow a failure to bring me down. I don’t even like to call them failures. It’s more of a learning lesson. I really do believe that I was given this opportunity for a reason and it’s most evident to me when going through negative experiences. I’ve also realized how lucky I am to have a support system that believes in me and knows who I am.

My family, friends, and followers keep me going when I feel weak. I don’t allow myself to feel this way often, but we are all human. I get emails and messages from girls who tell me I’ve inspired them to go for their dreams or thank me for making them feel beautiful in their skin. I keep all of those emails in a folder in my inbox and read them whenever I feel myself thinking negatively. I feel a responsibility to these girls to keep going and growing to show them that if I can do it they can too.

Photo by Erica Livoti

YHM: Who are your biggest supporters?

DM: My mom, dad, and sister. It’s ironic because those are also the people I was most nervous about telling the news of me quitting my job. I will always remember the weekend I went home to Texas after I quit my job. I wanted a weekend to get out of NYC and process what was about to happen in my life. Like I mentioned, I didn’t tell my parents I quit, but of course, the Indian grapevine is a real thing and they heard about it! We were all sitting on the couch in my family room and my dad out of nowhere tells me to meet him in our study room in five minutes.

I don’t think I ever felt sicker! I totally thought he was going to ship me off to India and set me up on an arranged marriage – not joking lol. I walk in and he turns around with a check in his hand. I was literally so confused. He said; “Don’t think of this as me giving money to my daughter. This is me investing in someone I believe in.”

You can imagine how much I lost it after that! I hysterically cried and told him that hearing he believes in me was all I needed from him. I then got dramatic, tore the check up and said I’m going to do this on my own LOL. Told you…I’m stubborn. I don’t know what it is about hearing your dad say he’s proud of you that can completely make your day/week/life!

YHM: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?

DM: Oh my goodness – that’s really hard to say. I am proud of so many of my accomplishments but don’t ever take the time to soak it in. I think for me personally, it was surreal to be on E! News as a correspondent for Miami Swim Week. It was such a personal victory for me because I grew up watching E! and red carpet reporting. I thought there was no way in the world I could ever be on there because of the color of my skin.

I always joked to my friends that I wanted to be the brown girl interviewing celebs to which most people laughed at first because it sounded impossible. I remember specifically after I went viral I was asked what else I felt like there was to achieve and I said being on E! Less than a year later I made my debut! Huge believer in manifesting my reality.

YHM: It’s an amazing opportunity to grab attention from magazines like Vogue, InStyle, and Elle. What goes through your mind whenever you reach a new height in your career? Who do you tell first?

DM: It’s really insane. I had it all happen in such a surreal way because of starting my career with a viral video. I just remember waking up and all of these major magazines that I read growing up would be writing about me daily. Such a pinch-me-moment. I try to take a minute to soak it in but to be honest I don’t overthink it. I never want to be complacent. I also pride myself on being grateful and humble for everything that’s happened in my career. Who do I tell first? My followers! I freak out and I feel like they are on this ride with me and are the happiest to go along with me on my journey. I genuinely feel their excitement when I share press moments!

YHM: Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you have any upcoming news you can share with us now?

DM: Five years ago, my plan was to intern at L’Oréal, get a full-time job at L’Oréal as a brand manager, get my MBA (A.K.A. make my dad’s life), and start my own beauty line. The path took a different route, but the end goal and dream were still there. I know I will have a line one day, but until that day comes, I enjoy seeing my career take a life of its own.

It’s really exciting being a part of a world that is changing in real time. The career I have in five years or even a year from now could be 180° different because of that and I love it. Stability to me is another word for unchallenging and I always want to be challenged in all aspects of my life. It’s how you grow.

What really sets Mutyala apart from the other “beauty gurus” is that she isn’t just another beauty blogger giving you makeup tutorials. Besides her awesome social media (Snapchat realness: Deepicam), she is out to inspire girls everywhere to take the plunge and follow their dreams. It is not just about looking pretty (which she does so effortlessly), but if you work hard anything is possible. Ultimately, that’s the message Mutyala is out to send to the world and maybe a tube of red lipstick can really be life changing after all.

By Raina Ali | Photos: Erica Livoti/@deepicam/Courtesy of Deepica Mutyala

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