THE OUTNET’S Content Editor, Jess Wood, spent some time with global makeup artist and queen of glowing skin Ruby Hammer. In case you missed their live conversation, we made sure to save some of the best bits…
Jess: Ruby you’re here! Oh, Ruby you look amazing. Your hair looks amazing. I don’t really know where to start, I was just thinking about how to, I’m sure everyone knows like who you are, but…
Ruby: There’s lots of younger people who haven’t got a clue who I am…
Jess: For me, when I was a teenager, I was obsessed with beauty. And, your brand, Ruby & Millie it was ‘IT’, the color, you on all the adverts and all that, it was IT!
Ruby: Well, we were quite brave at that time. If you think about it, we took two years to create the line, so it was 1996 and we launched in ’98. So, that’s a good 22 years ago!
Jess: So, can I also interrupt and say that your MBE, let’s just do the recap. Your MBE for services to the cosmetics industry, you are founder of two other brands? Is that right?
Ruby: So, Ruby & Millie is what we founded and we created and we launched, but before that I’ve done things backhand. Me and my ex-husband, we brought Aveda to this country, we had brought L’Occitane, you know. We did a lot of things, a lot of commercial beauty related things, not obvious, at front-of-house, you know.
Jess: Can I just ask you, because, I was so interested to know, you did economics at University, is that right?
Ruby: Yes! I did.
Jess: So, you’ve got this amazing business focus and the deals and the negotiation and getting all these massive brands on-board, but you’re obviously such a creative as well. You’ve worked with the fashion industry’s most creative, so, how does that all work? Tell me about that.
Ruby: I think, genuinely, the creative predominates, it just does, because you don’t have to think about it. It comes from your heart and it brings you joy, you express it that way, emotionally, artistically, whatever. It’s the commercial, the economics thing, I did it as my degree because my father was of the view, my late father, you know, we’re immigrants, we’re Asians, we’d come to this country when I…
Jess: Your dad was Bangladeshi wasn’t he?
Ruby: Yes. Yes. I wasn’t born there but I wasn’t born in this country either, I was born in Africa, in Nigeria. My late father was a doctor and I was born out there in the ‘60s. So, for him and for that generation, you needed basic education and that means to degree level.
Jess: Let’s be honest, beauty is the money that makes the fashion world go round. And, you can capture that and you can harness that and you understand that, it’s golden isn’t it?
Ruby: Well, I mean, it’s quite sad in a funny way. Look at what has happened in our industry. We lobbied, we got together, we told them that we make almost £30 billion, that’s a huge industry!
Jess: Is that the biggest industry or is that one of the biggest industries?
Ruby: It’s certainly up there. It’s bigger than the car industry so why are we being treated like ‘oh, it’s all very fluffy, it’s all…’ And also, for wellbeing and sense of oneself, we all know that mental health is as important as physical health and it’s part and parcel of everything.
Jess: In World War II it was all about the red lipstick and they had no money but they had their red lipstick, which is kind of like… psychologically it’s really an interesting phenomena., Anyway, tell me about when you first fell in love, was your mum very glamorous?
Ruby: My mother was a very young mother. She had me when she was 17, I just used to watch her and think ‘oh my god, that’s my mum’. I was fascinated by this transformative power of makeup and I just use to watch her like ‘Ah! My mum’s like a Bollywood star!’ you know?
Jess: Was she really into jewelry and sparkles? I noticed the earrings… I’ve tried to compete with you Ruby but you really are the winner.
Ruby: I’ve been watching, when I was told that I would be going on THE OUTNET, I thought ‘oh, let’s have a look at what other people are doing.’ And, everybody seems to have made an effort with their tops and sparkling earrings!
Jess: So, what really influenced your kind of aesthetic? Was there lots of Bollywood influences in your mental mood board?
Ruby: Well, as a child, in Africa, we didn’t have any TV. So, we used to go and watch Bollywood movies every night. I learnt to speak Hindi, which is not my mother tongue, just from watching those films. You were transported into this vision of beauty and music and right and wrong and there’s a lot of mythology in the Indian culture and it’s all incorporated and it gives you a lesson, good overcomes evil, always.
Jess: Which eras for beauty are your favorite?
Ruby: Oh my god. I’d have to say, because I blossomed or came to age in the ‘70s, I love that ‘70s era. With the glossy lip and the sort of Diana Ross and that sort of Bianca Jagger…
Jess: What like Halston, Studio 54, that kind of…?
Ruby: Spot on, spot on. That is what I really, I love. I love the music; I love the glamour. But there was something sexy and it still free. No one was caked in foundation…
Jess: What is the biggest waste of money that you shouldn’t even bother going down the aisle? What should people just not bother with?
Ruby: Ok, ok. Let’s clarify that with everybody should have some sort of routine. So, to fit in with that, I think there are certain things. You must cleanse, you must hydrate, you must exfoliate, you must protect from the sun. To be honest, what you cleanse with, you don’t have to spend a fortune on, as long as you do that religiously, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Your moisturizer on the other hand, or your serum or the treatment as you get older or younger if you’ve got acne or some special need, that’s what you should spend your money on. Other thing, same as it doesn’t matter what you wash your hair with, but that conditioner or mask needs to be good.
Jess: So, what you wash off is kind of irrelevant but what stays on is important?
Ruby: Exactly! And then what’s gonna stay on is going to be cumulative, so there’s not just, oh, it feels great once. I’m of that age now where I have to wear an eye cream. Whether that’s Crème de la Mer, whether that’s from Kiehl's, whether that’s from Murad, whether that’s from Cerave which is a cheap and cheerful range; whatever happens, I religiously put that on.
Jess: So, everyone wants to know what you think about everything but we must talk about the key issue at hand which is your amazing new brand.
Ruby: Yes! It’s just called my name because I thought, well, you know what, I’ve done something with Ruby & Millie and I’ve done things with other people, for other people, now’s the time. It’s a very small, capsule collection, it’s called Ruby Hammer, it’s in signature red. Anyone who knows me knows I love a bit of red.
Jess: So, it’s essentially a very, very curated survival kit that you need. Ruby, Can I just ask you, what is your desert island beauty?
Ruby: I am a multi-tasker. So, one of the things I take would be some sort of multi balm, like Egyptian Magic or something like that. And I feel I would take a concealer, and I feel no woman cannot have a mascara.
Jess: Ruby, thank you so much, it’s been amazing to talk to you. It’s just gone like that, maybe we could have part two another time because it’s been brilliant to talk to you.
Ruby: I’ll be back, I’ll be back, I’ll be back. Thank you so much and have a lovely evening.