We caught up with the brains and beauty behind Eyeko to find out how she became a successful entrepreneur and how she switches off
Reinventing mascara is no mean feat but that’s what Eyeko creators Nina Leykind and her partner Max did back in 1999, when they decided to launch one with a zero-waste squeeze tube as well as a whole host of other products for your eyes only. Fast forward gaining various celebrity fans and makeup artist approvals and soon Alexa Chung was on board as a Creative Consultant and Brand Ambassador and putting the brand on the map as a must-have; a stylish brand needs a face with style to represent it after all.
It was love at first sight for us when it came to their liquid liners and the brand has reached cult status with its wardrobe of eye-opening products, from the iconic mascaras to the newer brow definers. We caught up with mascara obsessive, mother and entrepreneur Nina Leykind to find out what makes her and her brand tick…
Hit the snooze button or up-and-at-em?
I’m too scared to hit the snooze button in case I fall back asleep and sleep through the alarm - it’s the same with wake-up calls at hotels, I end up not being able to sleep at all worrying that I’ll somehow miss it! I’m not naturally a morning person but once I’m up, I’m UP.
What does your company do in under 10 words?
Award-winning go-to beauty brand for your eyes only!
Best piece of work advice you ever had?
To focus on one thing and do it well. As an entrepreneur it’s easy to act on every idea that pops into my head but focusing on one thing, doing it well and seeing it through is the real challenge!
Name three things in your working week you love doing?
As Creative Director I’m immersed in the brands visual process and I adore all aspects of product development from conceptualising new launches to testing hundreds of mascara formulas each week. Our office fridge is always filled with Champagne so it’s good to catch up with editors and makeup artists as well as our in-store Mascara Editors and bounce around ideas over a glass of bubbles - who doesn’t love that!
What are the 3 things you do every day before breakfast?
I stick on my Eyeko Hydrogel Eye Patches, have a cup of hot water and lemon and check my emails to see if there’s anything pressing come in from Asia or the US over night.
What do you love about your job?
I don’t see it as a ‘job’ perhaps that why I love what I do. I particularly like the collaborative nature of my work and as Eyeko grows as a brand it’s particularly satisfying to be able to work with those whose work I admire like fashion illustrator extraordinaire David Downton. David created the most beautiful drawing inspired by our conversations of our favourite icons from Ursula Andress to Sophia Loren which in turn inspired our trio of products. Our new David Downton for Eyeko Mascara features the most elegant lash-hugging brush that deposits inky formula into the roots for an instant thickening effect and our new Brow Gel has a great brush to nail the brushed up brow trend alongside our brush tip liner for effortless Audrey-esque flicks. At our launch event David used the liner to give us all ‘eye’ tattoos! It was so amazing I may have to make it permanent!
What’s cooking for work lunch?
It varies from nothing to Chicken Pot Pie soup from Eat to going out to lunch at Fischer's (I always have the schnitzel), Marylebone or Little House (I always have the breaded veal - bit of theme there), Mayfair for meetings.
How do you stay organised?
I’m old school so still have my Smythson diary and notebooks and I always write with my ink fountain pen.
Describe your working style in 3 words?
Typical work attire?
Dresses or jeans depending on my schedule and all-navy-everything!
Name one beauty product you use every day and why?
Mascara is everything! The right mascara opens up the eyes and gives you stand out lashes with a depth of colour to make your eyes pop so you don’t need anything else.
Heels or flats, and why?
Heels for that boss-lady vibe as I’m only 5 foot 3 and a bit!
What’s your favourite way to relax?
Going to the cinema preferably in the middle of the day when no one else is there!
Worst job you ever had?
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had amazing jobs and seem to have side-stepped the ‘do-you-want-fries-with-that’ roles. My Saturday job folding jumpers in Benetton has ruined me though as I’m particularly anal about folding and packing meticulously. I freak out if I see clothes just thrown into a drawer or suitcase.
Notepad or iNotes?
Yoga, Pilates or HIIT and why?
Yoga! I love a good stretch after being on my laptop all day and that mental release of just taking the time to breath. Of course corpse pose is the highlight. I love Total Chi Yoga studio which is just round the corner from our Marylebone base as it’s small and intimate.
Who is your idol or mentor, career-wise?
There are so many inspirational women in my industry from Lisa Eldridge to Charlotte Tilbury; both of whom have championed Eyeko since the beginning as well as Natalie Massenet who is so warm and dynamic. Kay Montano is a great inspiration too, she’s a hive of information and visual references amassed over working in the industry since she was a teenager.
Find out more about Eyeko and the David Downton collaboration on Eyeko's website