The Business of Beauty: Talking to Lipstick Queen’s Poppy King

Poppy King Lipstick Queen

The luxury cosmetics market is a crowded place. Just take a moment to picture the beauty hall at your local department store. There are a lot of brands in there taking up counter space, and they’re all competing for your attention. And that’s why I’m so inspired by Poppy King, the founder of Lipstick Queen.

Poppy launched her premium lipstick brand in 2006, and quickly made space for her vision in a seriously competitive and overcrowded industry. You could ask any beauty junkie to list their favourite lip colours, and I guarantee a Lipstick Queen product will make the cut!

Last week I caught up with Poppy over email (she’s now based in New York, but grew up in Australia), to talk about the power of lipstick and the business of beauty. It’s the perfect way to start off the new week, as she’s one inspiring lady! Just read on and see for yourselves…

China Town in Lipstick Queen

Hi Poppy. So, first things first, when was the idea for Lipstick Queen born?

Throughout my entire career in cosmetics, the thing that motivated me wasn’t a big eureka style idea, or even a desire to own my own business. The thing that got me started was actually the massive gaping absence of what I myself wanted as a consumer: proper lipstick! Lipstick that transformed you. Lipstick that could make you feel like anything was possible!

When I launched my first lipstick brand in the early 90s there simply wasn’t anything like what I had experienced when trying on the lipsticks my mother brought back home after her trips to London in the 70s. Now that was lipstick! Those rich, matte formulas were so powerful and so glamorous and yet they had completely disappeared from view. I realised if I wanted to wear lipstick like that, I was going to have to make it happen myself!

Then, when I came to launch Lipstick Queen years later, my mission changed because I wanted to show every woman the true magic of lipstick…

Lipstick Queen Poppy King

Why did you choose to focus on solely on lips?

While other cosmetics correct, conceal or enhance, lipstick stands alone in its ability to transform, not only your look but also your sense of self. That is the true power and magic of lipstick and that’s what I’ve made it my mission to help every woman understand and experience.

I’ve always thought of lipstick as my version of a superhero’s cape. You put it on and you feel like you could do anything! And who knows, if you find the right one, maybe you can!

Everything about Lipstick Queen is so beautiful, from the colours and formulas to the packaging. Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

Firstly, thank you!!! As for my inspiration, I get lots of ideas from art, film, music. I love delving into old books and am very much influenced by past cultures and history as I am by fashion (in fact, more so!).

Were you nervous about launching your own beauty brand and going up against the big beauty giants?

When I first started out, I honestly thought it would be like a kid’s lemonade stand. I never for a second anticipated it would take me where it did. I just got on with it and didn’t even consider that I was going up against anyone. The innocence of youth! If I had known what I know now, about business, about life, I’m not sure I’d have had the guts to launch my own brand to be honest. But it goes without saying, I’m very glad I did!

Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor
Lipstick Queen Poppy King

Do you still remember your first ‘pinch me’ moment?

Seeing my lipsticks in Barneys NYC and also SpaceNK was a massive milestone. But I still get them all the time. When someone writes a great article about the range, or when a new stockist opens…

What advice would you give to women out there who are keen to make a place for themselves in the beauty industry?

I actually wrote a book on this very subject – Lessons of a Lipstick Queen. That’s how much I have to say on the subject! If I had to pick one piece of advice, I would said don’t ever feel apologetic about turning your passion into your livelihood.

And, finally, what colour should we be wearing on our lips this summer?

Fruity vibrant shades hit just the right note for the summer, I believe. So reds and corals with a juicy mango or papaya tone. An orange-toned sheer red like Aloha from my Endless Summer collection is ideal as it also contains SPF 15 and is packed with moisturising oils to keep lips soft and protected all summer long!

Are you a fan of Lipstick Queen products? Is Poppy King one of your industry icons? As always leave a comment and let me know…


  1. Thistle says:

    She is so inspiring. We carry Lipstick Queen in the shop I work in and I’ve fallen in love with her product, now I get to adore her too? Thank you for posting this interview!

    • cocos_tea_party says:

      Their great lipsticks, aren’t they? Which shade is your favourite?

      • Thistle says:

        I’ve been loving my new Jungle Queen for summer, but I’m also a huge fan of the Saint in Berry (so classy and understated) and Butterfly Ball Moment- it’s more like a raspberry stain than anything! One of these days I’ll graduate to the Velvet Rope collection haha What are yours?

  2. Wonderlusting says:

    I’ve got Deep Red Sinner and have been lusting over the Red Carpet collection


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.