Hello Waffle returns! Shiro Cosmetics founder discusses brand's acquisition and future as site reopens

Photo credit: Hello Waffle Cosmetics

Photo credit: Hello Waffle Cosmetics

Hello Waffle Cosmetics was founded in 2014 as an indie cosmetics company that celebrated a love of fairy tales and cats. With a range of products and a monthly subscription box, Hello Waffle earned a loyal customer base that has followed its colorful journey over the last few years. Today marks a new step in Hello Waffle’s indie adventure as its site reopens after the brand was acquired by Shiro Cosmetics’ Caitlin Johnstone.

The acquisition of Hello Waffle by Shiro was announced on July 30 when both companies shared the news on their Facebook pages. Shiro Cosmetics launched in 2010 and offers a range of geek-inspired products from Miyazaki tints to a Hobbit eye shadow collection. In her Facebook post sharing the news, Hello Waffle’s founder Christine wrote that she has long admired Johnstone and knew she could trust Johnstone to run the brand.

So, what can consumers expect now that Johnstone is reopening the site? I found out more about the brand’s future and the acquisition in an email interview with the Shiro Cosmetics founder.

When did you first discover Hello Waffle Cosmetics as a brand? How long have you been familiar with their products?

Caitlin Johnstone: I've been vaguely aware of Hello Waffle Cosmetics ever since they launched on Etsy. I remember checking out their lip products back when the product pictures were still in mason jars! I wasn't really actively involved with them until Christine asked me to be a guest in the Visage program in December 2015 for her The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe themed box. Since shipping was expensive from Canada, I hadn't tried her products prior to the acquisition, but to be fair it's very rare for me to purchase indie cosmetic products at all since it's so easy for me to create whatever I want for myself!

Photo credit: Hello Waffle Cosmetics

Photo credit: Hello Waffle Cosmetics

How did the opportunity to acquire Hello Waffle come about and why did you want to acquire it?

Johnstone: The opportunity to acquire Hello Waffle came about because Christine directly contacted me with an offer to sell. She's moving into a new career path and decided that she couldn't effectively continue to run the business while pursuing her career goals. I decided to move forward with the acquisition because I really respect Christine as a business owner and I knew that the transition would be smooth, and her offer was more than fair. She keeps really clean records and her products fill a lot of gaps in our catalog. We now have formulas for glitter adhesive, semi-loose eye shadows, lipsticks (including Howl Cosmetics' bullet lipsticks, which were included in the sale), liquid highlighters, and more! I also couldn't resist the chance to carry on the Visage program; I've been wanting to launch a subscription box for a long time but never got around to starting one.

What can people expect to change and stay the same at Hello Waffle? Will there be any crossover with formulas, colors, or themes with the Shiro brand or products sold on each other's sites?

Johnstone: A lot of Hello Waffle will remain the same! I'm continuing to use Christine's formulas and I intend to stay consistent with her themes for all future collections and Visage boxes, as well as carry on the beloved Kitty Kingdom tradition (limited-edition shades inspired by customers' pets, launched for Black Friday, with a portion of proceeds being donated to animal shelters). There are just a couple of changes: pricing has largely dropped and all Visage boxes from now onward are vegan. We may carry a small selection of Hello Waffle products on the Shiro website, but in general we're looking to keep them quite separate—although the Shiro September Color of the Month is a sort of collaboration!

What are you most excited about people seeing with this relaunch of Hello Waffle, whether they're return customers or maybe discovering the brand for the first time because they follow your work with Shiro?

Johnstone: I'm really excited to bring Hello Waffle's products to the U.S. market—I think the opportunity to buy from the U.S. will entice a lot of people who were in the same boat as I was, where they wanted to try the products but shipping was prohibitive. I'm excited to carry forward her branding and get the chance to create collections that aren't geeky in nature and that may appeal to a wider audience—Christine's collections are generally either fairy tale/literature inspired or they have lots of cat puns, or both, so those are all totally up my alley!

Photo Credit: Hello Waffle Cosmetics

Photo Credit: Hello Waffle Cosmetics

With the acquisition of Hello Waffle, and with it Howl Cosmetics, you own those as well as Shiro and Detrivore now. You also carry items from other brands like Femme Fatale on your website. What do you see as the connecting factor between these brands that makes them something you want to own or carry at Shiro? For the brands you own, is there a challenge at all in keeping them distinct from each other?

Johnstone: I think there is a bit of challenge in keeping the brands distinct—it's just a lot to keep track of all the time! I do like that with the four brands, we now cover a lot of distinct aesthetics, all of which I like: Shiro is shimmery pop-culture-y brights; Detrivore is gothic and has a lot of mattes; Hello Waffle has a lot of shades that are very subdued and feminine as well as lots of interesting different formulas; and Howl's branding is more grown-up but not out of place. Femme Fatale is a great combination of incredible duochromes with themes that tend toward "geeky" but simple and elegant branding so that they appeal to a wide audience. I do think that every company covers its own niche, so it hasn't been too much challenge keeping them distinct, although we'll see how it goes after the actual launch. I can say it's definitely going to be to our benefit having the two primary websites being separate!

Is there anything else you'd like to tell customers about the launch?

Johnstone: The initial launch is going to be mainly general catalogue items. Within the next couple of weeks, leftover Kitty Kingdom and Visage shades will be inventoried and added to the site. We're also going to prioritize stocking Howl lipsticks. Orders placed on the Hello Waffle site will always ship promptly since all items on the site are in-stock and ready to go. As a courtesy to Christine's Canadian customer base, we will be offering $5 USD flat rate shipping to Canada for the first year after launch. Also, Visage sign-ups are open, and the October box is going to be an amazing Halloween extravaganza!

Don't forget to sign up for GeekFold so you can receive the week's essential geek fashion news every Friday!