Sunday, August 09, 2009

Beauty & Brains: Christine Mielke of

Kickin' beauty shots! Insider launch info! Makeup database spanning from 1996! What's not to like for the nearly 200k readers that stop by every month?

This is a transcript from an interview with Christine Mielke on Solessence Radio prior to blogger/BlogHer week.

By day she's a law student, and one of the top makeup bloggers around. At a height of 200k unique visitors a month, Christine Mielke has crafted her blog into one of the hottest makeup resources. Her signature closeups of eye and lip applications, along with reviews of different brands, are top notch instructionals for readers. Combine that with her willingness to engage her audience, and you often find a lively comment trail for her posts.

You have a very unique signature for your photos, close ups of your eyes and lips, for your tutorials. How did this all come about?

CM: Well first of all, it's great to be here and thank you for the opportunity and interest in interviewing me. Temptalia really started as a way for me to archive all of the different looks I was doing already, posting with friends and sharing with other beauty addicts. At that point there was already about 100 different looks and I said it would be really great if I could just put these in a permanent spot, in one location, where people can look back on them if they wanted to. So I went with the blog format and it just took off from there.

This is actually a second version?

CM: Kindof. I did have another website, which didn't use the name Temptalia. It was more of a personal site and then I migrated and used Temptalia, which has been my internet user name for ten years or so. I just went with that as a brand because people knew me by that.

It has grown; your traffic is tremendous. What do you think contributes to that? Did you intend on growing it this big?

CM: Originally my intent was not anything ambitious. It was to have fun. Then it started becoming more about writing reviews and doing tutorials, and so it became more things to do and more things to write. Then it was, okay, this could be something really fun if I work really hard and take it to the next level. Now our goal is to continue to grow it as much as we have in the past.

I think one of the major reasons we've grown so much is that we post regularly. We post a couple of times a day. The other thing is that it is a community atmosphere. It's talking to readers, it’s answering reader questions. It's all that reader interaction that makes people want to come back and keep reading the site.

It is very fun to read comments on your different looks. People also look to you to find information first hand. How do you feel about that? You're sort of the bearer of beauty news.

CM: It's great that I can deliver that news. I like to share whatever news I have with people, because I feel that consumers and my readers want to know what's coming out. They want to plan for purchases, or they want to get tempted by all the different launches that come out every season. So it is really great to provide all of that information for them. In some aspects, sometimes I get asked questions about upcoming launches, and I might not have information yet, so I feel sad I can't provide the information. But I do my best to provide what I can. I never hold on to information if I can help it.

What has been your number one challenge with this blog?

CM: I think the number one challenge is just meeting the demand. How do I spend my time everyday? What do I do to prioritize what should be done first? Answering comments, writing posts, talking with different brands. I feel like that is my major challenge and sometimes it's overwhelming that there are so many things I want to do and not enough time to do them.

For people who have not been to your site ( you really need to visit if you have an interest in beauty. You mention you've expended out to the different brand reviews and giveaways, but you also do alot of what I would call polls. You bring up conversations on how people treat their makeup, or different routines. In terms of that, you've created this tribe of beauty lovers. How would you describe your typical reader?

CM: The reader base is really diverse. I have readers as young as 13, then women over 50. I would say the typcial reader is someone who lives and breathes beauty. They may love one brand or they may love ten brands. But they live and breathe it. They may not spend a lot of money or they may spend hundreds of dollars each month, but they still find something that they love. And if they can't buy it, they still love to hear about it. And they love to share their knowledge with everybody else.

What has been your favorite topic? What was really fun for you?

CM: I think interviewing professional in the industry like Eve Pearl or celebrities like Heidi Klum. I think that stuff is really exciting for me because it is really fun and an honor and so flattering to do it. And I feel like it gives the blog an extra dimension that I can give my readers. In terms of stuff I do on my own, I really do like the basic series. Like "Must Have" blue eyeshadow, or the brush series. These are posts that will be really valuable to anybody that comes to the blog at any time. It's not some fall collection that is only relevent for the fall season, it is information that people will find useful time and time again.

How does this change your future plans, being in law school? Where do you see this going?

CM:To be honest, before the blog started taking off - it has taken off in the last year and a half beyond my hopes and dreams - I have been struggling with law school in sense that that is not something I want to do in my life.

I've always been more of an entrepreneur than anything else. I love working for myself. I've been working for myself since I was 13. I've been writing articles in magazines since I was 13. So I think my calling is writing. Writing quick articles, regular basis, so I would really like to see this go forward in the future. I know for my plans I want to do things like consulting, blogging consulting, social media consulting.

Are you looking to speak? Do you want to work one-on-one?

CM: Right now I am looking to work with people one-on-one, most likely showing them what blogging is about, or how to work with bloggers (depending on the client). Showing them how they can utilize social media in a way that works well for bloggers and works well for the brand.

You recently came out with a book. Can you tell us about that and other projects you have going on?

CM: The book is a print archive of 50 looks that I felt were diverse. I think I have done 400 looks so far, so this is the best of. We've done the book as a response to readers. They wanted to be able to see the photo in the bathroom (where they are applying makeup) where the computer wasn't, so that's been the inspiration. It's great for people to have a piece of Temptalia in their home and be able to use it as they want or show their friends.

In terms of other projects, we launched a product in Photogallery recently, that's been really good. And we also launched a MAC database of all of the previously launched products from 1996 until the present, so people can find that long lost discontinued lipstick. In terms of other projects going forward, I think we would like to focus on YouTube presence being a little stronger, and trying to do more regular YouTube videos.

You are getting so popular you are getting hijacked - I saw some bogus Temptalia videos out there. What do you think of that? They did give you credit and they did use your photos, but it's a little unusual to spend time doing that. I guess it's flattering.

CM: They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I do have to look at this as a business and work to protect my copyright and photos. When they run ads and start profiting off my tutorials or looks it is infringing on my rights. It is one of the reasons we are working to put more of our own stuff on YouTube, so it will be very obvious when people do this. It will be hard pressed for them when we've already done it.

With your talent in doing makeup, why didn't the route of becoming a makeup artist pop up first?

CM: I think where my strengths lie, and what I really love to do, is in teaching and educating people. I love sharing whatever knowledge I have, and in addition to that, I love learning from other people and taking it transforming it and bringing it into my own brain. Going through it, internalizing it, and increasing that knowlege. I love being able to reach so many people in this format, this 24/7 format, that being a makeup artist would not be able to offer those things and would not be as enriching as blogging is right now.

The database had to take an incredible amount of time.

CM: It was quite an ordeal to do all of the data entry. Lot of data entry. But it was helpful for someone like me to see, "Wow, I have this eyeshadow and it's from WHEN?" It was fun putting together as well.

We had a conversation one time where you went through, I can't remember, 80 pounds of makeup?

CM: I did have a point where I went through and gave around 60 pounds of product to a women's shelter, and the remaining 20 lbs to my mom and my aunt, and they enjoyed that.

How much makeup do you go through a month?

CM: I don't think I go through any makeup, ever, but I have alot of it. I can't remember finishing any. That is a problem, it just continues to grow and grow, (laughs) I had to move to a new two-bedroom apartment and it continues growing. I have so much because right now I'm really trying to stay on the edge and I'm always looking for the newest and greatest things. I'm always accumulating and buying all of these products (right now I am going through fall stuff). If I don't use something, I give things away through the blog giveaways, that is how some of that is supplied. If I've used it I pass it on to friends and family. If I can't part with it, it makes way into my personal stash.

In terms of building your site, what has been the #1 thing that has done it for you?

CM: I think photos. In the beginning, that is what set Temptalia apart from the other beauty blogs. Because I posted pictures of myself, which I did not see as many beauty bloggers doing when I first started posting. It made the blog really personal; people could see me and they knew who I was. I had lots of photos and they were very good quality, so people could come and see the colors. They knew they weren't stock photos; it was real product on a real person, so they knew the colors would be accurate with no Photoshop team behind me.

Did you have any photography training? Even in an ad, colors can look one way, but then you compare with the product and they won't match at all. How did you get yours to be true to color?

CM: To be honest, I read the manual. I used to take the worst photos, and I think it was October 2005 when I said, "Let me read my manual." Why couldn't my pictures be crisp and clear? My photos were terrible! I learned macro mode and that set my world aflame, because a lightbulb went on over my head. My makeup literally went overnight from, "That looks okay I guess," to "Wow, that looks pretty good!" I still use the same camera that I used four years ago for point and shoot, and I recently upgraded to a bigger SLR camera in the past 6 months or so. I still use the same point and shoot because it has served me so well, but that macro mode is everything when it comes to taking pictures of your makeup swatches. I can't suggest enough to read your manual.

RTFM. Well it also helps that you are attractive, and you get these super close up shots of your eyes that are so gorgeous. You can see all the details of the makeup, and your eye shape is incredible. Great job.

CM: Thank you.

Can you mention some favorites that you have, or in general trends coming up.

CM: Right now I see a lot of darks for the fall. MAC is putting out a black lipstick, Urban Decay came out with a black lipstick. I then presume that eyes will be a little lighter, because we're not all going to run around like a runway model. So, light on the eyes. I see a lot of liner coming on for the fall, strong liner, liquid liner. But then you've got nude, sheer lids. Black liner, black lips, and of course flawless skin is always in every season.

The LancĂ´me Indigo collection is probably the best to date. It's just very bold pops of Indigo blue. MAC came out with their collection, which will be dark and vampy, and Goth. I think that's where fall is going.

Italian Vogue and Kim Kardashian sport the no eyebrow & Goth look look
Have you noticed the 'no eyebrow' trend?

CM: No I haven't, I must have missed this trend!

I don't know if it is strictly for shock for runway or they are expecting people to take it on, but they are shaving, covering or bleaching eyebrows out.

CM: Very interesting! I really hope nobody takes that one to heart. It would be a shame for anyone to shave off their eyebrows - those things take forever to grow back.

To contact Christine for consulting inquiries, please email her at:

Visit Christine's sites at:


~ Hillary Fry / solessence


Marce said...

Great interview, you did a great job! And I agree, Temptalia is just amazing and I recommend it to everyone!

mbeek said...

Very nice interview - enjoyed learning more about her. I bought her book and it is outstanding. I am a makeup artist and I highly recommend this for not only artists, but anyone with an interest in makeup. Very user friendly. All in all, a wonderful makeup book.

Solessence said...

Thanks for reading the interview Marce! Yes, Temptalia is a great site and it was a real joy to hear Christine's story.

Solessence said...

Thanks for letting us know you love the book. I'm really excited to see what's in store for Christine's future!

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