Meet Our Director of Product Development, Jessica Blanco
by Abby McIntosh
photographed by Riley Carithers
You can tell a lot about a person by what’s in their bag, so what better way to get to know the people at Milk Makeup than to snoop through their most personal belongings? In the Bag will satisfy your nosy side and give you insight into the careers and lives of the people behind the products.
Meet Jess Blanco, our Director of Product Development, #1 Lip + Cheek fan, and career advice extraordinaire.
Can you describe your job as Product Development Director?
I work on formulas, product concepts, and packaging, so I think about what we want in our line, what makes sense for the brand, and what’s going to be beneficial for us as people in our everyday routines. Every time we’re thinking of a new product, we want to make sure it’s easy to use, has good ingredients, has great payoff, and can be used on the go. I also look to see what products already exist and don’t exist. I take all of those things into consideration and think of concepts for each season — spring, summer, fall, and holiday. I also price everything; I have a cost sheet, so I know what my target is for the formula and packaging cost. I coordinate a lot of little moving parts. I also work with our design team, so [Mazdack] Rassi (Milk Makeup Co-Founder) and Kali (Director of Product Design) will look at the packaging and formula and we’ll think about what the final product should look like.
So what is a day in the life like for you?
It’s a very, very busy day! I’ll walk in in the morning and say hi to everyone, I’ll look at my calendar to see what meetings I have, I’ll check some emails to see if I have any that morning, which I usually do. Then, we have at least 2 to 3 meetings a day with vendors, marketing, creative, and production. Production is a big part of it; that’s executing the actual product and getting it to the stores. We’re also always testing new formulas. Something new comes up every day and it makes the day go by really quickly.
What’s the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Definitely our quick timelines. You have to make sure you’re getting everything done at a very fast pace.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Seeing the product in the store! Seeing people loving it, trying it, buying it, and talking about it online — that’s the most amazing part.
What’s one piece of career advice that you would give to someone who’s just starting to build their career?
I would say to always be confident in your ideas. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say what you’re thinking. Go for what you’re passionate about and work really hard. That’s the most important thing. Work hard for what you want.
What’s the most glamorous part of your job?
Getting to go to all of the parties and all of the events that we have — getting to have fun and dance with our team!
What’s one of your unexpected or cool sources of inspiration for products?
I find inspiration in a lot of different places. Some ideas I get from my co-workers because they’re very interesting. In the beginning, when I first came here, I was inspired by the environment and by Milk Studios in general — the fashion, the young, interesting people here, and our creative director Georgie! I’m always thinking about how to make things different and easy to apply. We always want to be innovative.
What’s the product that you’re most proud of?
There’s one that’s coming out that I love, but I can’t talk about it yet! I’m very proud of Blur Liquid Matte Foundation and I use Lip + Cheek every day.
In three words, what do the contents of your bag say about you?
Oh my god, this is so hard. Pretty, messy, and… busy.
What’s your best memory with this bag? Has it been anywhere cool with you?
It really just comes to work with me, but I’ve taken it on some work trips recently, like to Canada and San Francisco for market meetings. It’s really my business and work bag.
Oh yeah, what’s your sign?
Virgo, even though virgos are supposed to be really neat!!