Q&A dunkle authentic
15 May 2020
Founder and maker of dunkle authentic, Molly Dunkle, has been exploring cosmetic design & artistry for over a decade. At 12 years old, with the help of her environmental chemist father she curiously started making lip balm, and has since developed the Dunkle Authentic signature natural makeup line you see today. Molly has a passion for raw materials and ethical manufacturing that comes to life through her range of handmade products.
This week we caught up with Molly to talk all things natural beauty.
When did you first decide to pursue dunkle authentic? What inspired you?
Growing up with my environmental chemist father, I had a strong curiosity for how things are made. This soon translated into natural beauty when I made lip balm for the first time as a 12 year old. The idea of simplicity has always inspired me, the quality, confidence, & transparency of simple products led me to start dunkle authentic in 2013.
You must have an incredible collection of lipstick by now! What’s your go-to colour?
Right now my go-to shades are Montserrat, a russet orange, and the new Los Angeles, a sienna brown. For simplicity’s sake, I keep two lipsticks on my vanity at a time and actually use up the whole tubes before rotating in a new shade. I love to also use them on my cheeks as blush and create a ‘monochrome’ look.
Organic and natural ingredients are integral to dunkle authentic. Why is this important to you, and how do you go about sourcing ingredients in Australia?
The idea behind using organic and natural ingredients goes back to when I first started making products as a 12 year old, I would spend hours at the library researching natural formulations. To this day I still continue researching plant oils and butters, I love the way they feel and how they nourish the skin. Lately I have been connecting with local farmers here in Australia, I am in the process of reformulating from a rose absolute harvested in Bulgaria to a beautiful rose oil distilled here in Australia. It’s incredible to hear the harvest stories and build those agricultural connections.
dunkle authentic is handcrafted in small batches in your Brisbane studio. Tell us about the process you go through to bring each product to life?
The process of crafting each product is both creative and analytical. I start by exploring the inspiration behind the shades, the lipsticks for example are named after beloved places around the world. I then draft the formula, which involves a lot of math to work out different percentages of raw materials, and then I start trialling new blends. While the products have evolved over the years with adjustments to raw materials, the set formulas are measured to the hundredth of a gram for each new batch. The process then involves heating, pouring, and cooling phases, then finally the finished product is labelled and batch recorded.
Can you share with us how you integrate sustainability into your practice? Why is this important to you?
The idea of simplicity naturally lends itself into sustainability. The focus on quality raw materials, connections with farmers, and transparent manufacturing inherently drives a considered approach. I strive to continually improve the sustainability of dunkle authentic, switching to recyclable aluminium foundation tins, partnering with TerraCycle to effectively recycle remaining packaging, using paper tape and recyclable cardboard for posting orders, sourcing beautiful second-hand furniture for the studio fit-out, serving local wine and vegan nibbles at brand events. It’s an ongoing process that I love to explore.
You’re originally from Colorado but have been living in Brisbane for a number of years. How do these places influence your creative practice?
There is a rawness about Colorado that has influenced my style, the raw beauty of the mountains, the snowfall in winter, the lush summers. The appreciation of nature has definitely strengthened my desire for natural beauty. Since living in Brisbane, my style has been influenced further from the sub-tropical sense of ease. The dewy skin, the pop of lip colour, the linen kaftans. The act of travelling between both places, pausing right now of course, is a continual source of inspiration, creating long-haul-friendly products that serve as a token of connection to places around the world.
How has dunkle authentic evolved over time and what has influenced its development?
The brand style has definitely evolved over time, including the colours and packaging. A couple of years ago I made the decision to phase out red dye in favour of pure mineral pigments, which led to reformulating the lipstick colours. The foundations were originally a powder base and in 2019 I reformulated to a botanical balm style with recyclable aluminium packaging. I enjoy curating the product offering and constantly exploring options to make the products more sustainable and simpler.
Career highlight to date?
Opening the studio was incredible. Seeing dunkle authentic on the glass window for the first time made everything feel very real. Although challenging at times, I loved the process of setting it up, considering the space, and sourcing the fit out. Then to invite clients in for the first time to smell the Australian harvested olive oil, learn how the products are made, sip rose water, and try on a lipstick was a special experience to share.
How has your practice been affected by the current state of the world?
Well after that career highlight, sadly I had to close the new studio to the public after only four weeks of opening. In a way though, it has given me the time and space to reflect on the business and make some changes. I have been able to connect more with the local Australian farmers and source new harvest samples. I have been working on new formulas and developing the website, which has been lovely. Reopening the studio will look different, I am exploring options for ‘en plein air’ style pop ups outside the studio with recyclable single-use testers.
What are the things you’re trying to do to stay creative on a daily basis?
I absolutely love walks, living in New Farm my partner and I walk along the river almost daily, a nice way to reset and recharge. My mom and I have started an art club where we regularly check out online exhibitions from selected art galleries around the world (Museum of Brisbane is on the list of course), then schedule a FaceTime call to discuss our favourite pieces. We both love the impressionist styles, it’s been a fun way to connect from afar.
Who are your favourite Brisbane makers?
Oh there are many to love, I am constantly inspired by the Brisbane community of makers and business owners. Kat from Practice Studio beautifully altered a vintage Easton Pearson dress for me, Molten Store’s reclaimed diamonds, Isabella Longginou’s floaty linens, Harriette Harrington’s florals, Penelope Bell’s illustrations, Alice Nightingale’s vintage fabrics, Pip Spiro’s water colours, Paula Dunlop’s beaded bangles.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
I do, I am working on a new multi-purpose face balm, nodding to that original lip balm formula 18 years later. I am working on a vanilla oil infusion featuring Australian grown and harvested vanilla beans, olive oil, and jojoba oil. It’s incredibly soothing on the skin and can be used as a deep facial cleanser, makeup remover, lip balm, and brow balm. I am in the final stages of development, to be released in June. Very excited to share!