Self-proclaimed geeks sell video game-themed cosmetics

27 Jul

The Mushroom Kingdom set uses colors inspired by the Super Mario Bros. games.

Two video game enthusiasts started a business that designs and sells video game-themed cosmetics.

Chantel Eldredge, co-owner of Geek Chic, said the business was conceived as a combination of her two favorite hobbies.

“It was something that I thought would be a lot of fun and was a marriage of two of my greatest loves: makeup and all things geeky,” Eldredge said. “I lost my job at a large craft store chain and with the local job market being thin I asked my best friend (Geek Chic co-owner Deborah Magarella) if she wanted to go into business with me, and Geek Chic was born.”

Eldredge said one of the first steps in creating the business was to make sure no one else had come up with the same idea.

“There are a ton of products out there that are inspired by video games,” Eldredge said. “As a female gamer, I can tell you that there isn’t a whole lot in the way of gaming swag geared toward women.  That was a big part of the inspiration for combining the two.”

Geek Chic’s eye shadows, foundations, and blushes draw inspiration from distinct video game characters and concepts. Eldredge said the shades are sometimes created first then matched to a suitable video game icon.

Solid Snake, for example, started out as a color that we thought, ‘Who does this color remind me of?,'” Eldredge said. “It’s very much like baking:  Once you’ve got the base for your cookie dough down, it’s easy to think of things to add.”

Eldredge said other colors were directly inspired by hues found within certain games.

“The color Desert Chic, for example, is based on the color of Sheik’s eyes from Zelda,” Eldredge said. “So sometimes the inspiration is obvious, and other times it’s more subtle.”

Eldredge said the visual design of video games, as well as the memories of games she and Magarella played as children offer great inspiration for their products.

“The textures, artistry, and colors are vivid and inspire me to think outside of the box,” Eldredge said. “It’s been great fun looking back to our childhoods and remembering our favorite games and using those fond memories to create colors that pay homage to them.”

An example of Geek Chic's Solid Snake and Twilight Princess cosmetics.

Since Geek Chic bases its products on existing video game characters and concepts, Eldredge said it can be difficult to make sure the business’ products capture the theme they want without crossing legal boundaries.

“In the initial days after we launched there was a lot of rabble rousing on web forums about copyright infringement and brand dilution,” Eldredge said. “The negativity and reflexive backlash in regards to packaging and the naming of products could get really nasty.”

Early criticisms motivated Eldredge and Magarella to make sure Geek Chic’s products were legal.

“Those sparse negative comments were a blessing in disguise though, because they prompted us to really do our homework,” Eldredge said. “Our webmaster and PR guy, Phil, as well as Deborah have done a lot of research into trademark and copyright, more so I’m guessing than the hundreds of stores out there actually using licensed designs and trademarks.”

Eldredge said she can see both sides of the issue and would respect the wishes of a company concerned about its properties because she respects the games that inspire her. She said the challenge of staying within legal bounds can also be fun.

“It can be a bit of a challenge when coming up with names and artwork for the colors and collections, but it’s been a fun exercise in gaming trivia to do so,” Eldredge said. “Plus, it allows us to offer up a little fan service at the same time. It is a challenge but worth it in my opinion.”

Eldredge said Geek Chic is doing well having shipped its first international order last weekend and that she and Magarella are looking to expand the business’ product line to include cosmetics based on books, TV series, tabletop games, and card games and will start offering more cosplay products as well. Battlestar Galactica-inspired products will be among the first to be offered.

“We are only limited by our imaginations, and between Deborah and I, that means our possibilities are endless,” Eldredge said. “We also are starting to take custom orders as well, so that means our customers get to use theirs too!”

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