jean luc cosmetics

Toronto man that started up brand to cope with depression keeps selling out

We all have our own ways of dealing with depression, but one Toronto social worker decided to start up a new brand as a coping mechanism, and now it's taking off.

Jean-Luc Palumbo launched Jean-Luc Cosmetics about a year ago in April 2021, and currently still works 9 to 5 as a mental health and homeless case manager. Jean-Luc has been doing social work for around four years and has been interested in makeup as a creative outlet for about as long.

"I started my business as a passion project to escape the depression the pandemic brought on, as well as to create a career out of my love for all things beauty and cosmetics," Palumbo tells blogTO

He created Jean-Luc Cosmetics as an inclusive makeup brand that would welcome everyone, even those not traditionally represented in the beauty industry.

"I work on my business every evening and all my weekends," says Palumbo. "I have a two-year goal of quitting my 9 to 5 to pursue my brand full-time, and it's looking very promising. I've sold out a couple of times."

Palumbo attributes a lot of his success to the power of social media, and he's had to do three restocks so far. The brand has over 69,000 followers on TikTok.

"I've had several videos about The Everything Palette go completely viral, and have shipped products to more countries than I can count," says Palumbo.

"I currently run my business completely out of my condo, which I am very quickly outgrowing. I do everything myself, from designing the products, to all my branding and marketing, as well as fulfilling and shipping orders."

The brand is heavily influenced by queer culture and language, with names for shades like 'Daddy's Girl,' 'Sneaky Link,' 'Fruity,' 'Pride' and 'Bear.'

"One of our best-selling liquid lipsticks 'Femme' refers to a person who actively embodies a feminine appearance regardless of their gender identity," says Palumbo.

"I've been able to create an incredibly loving and accepting community amongst my brand's supporters. I often go live on TikTok to pack everyone's orders, and it truly feels like we're all hanging out together like a close group of friends, despite there being thousands of people watching."

This community, online and off, is also to credit for helping Palumbo build buzz: he's gifted products to several Toronto-based queer public figures.

"I've been able to grow my brand to six figures within just 13 months of launching all by myself," says Palumbo. "I've been able to grow my brand through organic traffic on social media, with zero dollars spent in advertisements. My brand is completely self-funded with no help from loans or investors."

Right now, the brand's lineup mainly consists of liquid lipsticks, lip gloss and an eyeshadow palette, all of which are vegan, cruelty-free and fragrance-free and can be purchased online. Lipsticks and glosses cost around $18, and the eyeshadow palette is priced at $32.

"My future plans involve quitting my 9 to 5, growing the brand into an office space, and expanding into retail and subscription boxes," says Palumbo.

Lead photo by

Jean-Luc Cosmetics

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