Keilidh Cashell is a force to be reckoned with.
The makeup artist and entrepreneur is Goss.ie’s latest Spotlight On cover star and in this exclusive interview, she opens up about life online, chasing her dreams, and creating one of the biggest beauty brands in the country.
The 27-year-old also speaks about her plans to break the UK market, the next step in her relationship with her longtime love Darren Kavanagh, and much more…
Keilidh has made serious waves in the makeup industry.
After completing her Leaving Certificate in 2014, the Monaghan native did a year-long course in makeup college, and started working at a department store cosmetics counter.
She then started sharing photos and videos of her makeup looks on Instagram, and her account began to blow up.
Known by her social media handle @keilidhmua, the content creator now has over 540k Instagram followers, 184K YouTube subscribers and an incredible 2.7million TikTok followers.
After exploding onto the beauty scene, Keilidh landed exciting deals with some huge global brands.
She appeared as the face of a global campaign for makeup giant Morphe Cosmetics for its ‘Hit the Lights Artistry Palette’, which saw her appear on billboards across the US.
The social media star has also worked with world-renowned makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, featured as a judge on RTÉ’s Glow Up Ireland, and even walked the red carpet at the BRIT Awards 2022.
And in 2020, Keilidh’s career took off even more when she launched her very own brand: KASH Beauty.
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The vegan and cruelty-free brand is known for its luxury yet affordable cosmetics – including the bestselling Sculpt Sticks, Liquid Silk, and Skin Glaze.
The award-winning beauty brand is now one of the most popular in the country, and it is available to purchase online or in Boots stores across the country.
Keilidh, who picked up the award for Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2022 Gossies, has big plans for KASH Beauty.
In this exclusive interview, she reveals she wants her brand to “take over the world” – starting with the UK and the US.
Check out our full exclusive interview with Keilidh below:
Let’s take it back to the beginning – when did you first discover your love of makeup?
“I think it was pretty similar to most girls, right? You just start going out, you’ve an interest in boys so you want to look pretty I suppose, and you’re getting ready with your friends for nights out. And I was always interested in art. For instance, I was always drawing all over the walls when I was younger, and my mother was always giving out to me! But the thing that was interesting about it was that I was always drawing faces. What’s interesting about that it now I’m painting actual faces. So yeah I always had an artistic flair, and that’s translated into my makeup now.”
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue makeup artistry as a career, rather than just for fun?
“It was probably before the Leaving Cert, you know when you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life? What actually attracted me to makeup first was more so doing makeup for movies, like Pirates of the Caribbean. Prosthetics and stuff – that’s what I originally wanted to do. And I worked all through sixth year on a portfolio, and I actually didn’t get into the course that I wanted to. That was a blessing in disguise because if I had of got into it, I never would have started working on counters so early or started posting things my own things online. So everything happens for a reason, big time.”
Have you closed the door completely on doing makeup for film, or is that something you’d like to revisit later in life?
“I think that’s obviously a massive commitment, but never say never. You never know where this life might take you. I think I’m definitely fulfilled when it comes to makeup, and my hands are definitely full at the moment. But even if I don’t work in it, I’d love to learn more about it. Like I’d love to work alongside someone who works in that industry, just to see what they do.”
What is your favourite thing about painting someone’s face?
“I just think it’s so transformative and fun. I feel like I have a different perspective of makeup then a lot of people, like I don’t just see it as a mask or something you put on to look pretty, or to cover insecurities. For me, it’s literally an art form. I get such a kick out of coming up with a idea, and then it translating on my face, and it coming out the way I wanted it to. When it comes to working on other people, I think it’s such a joy to see them feel beautiful and confident, just getting that reaction off them. It’s a really nice, luxury thing to get your makeup done, so I’m only delighted to be able to do that for people.”
And it’s so cool that you’re now able to use products you’ve created on your clients faces. It’s like they’re a blank canvas and your KASH Beauty products are your paint…
“That’s literally the fire behind it all – creating products that make other people feel inspired, and make them feel beautiful. And creating products that people can’t live without, and knowing that they trust the brand too. That’s the reason why I do it, it’s to make people feel confident and beautiful.”
“I want to make people to feel confident and beautiful…”
If a career in makeup didn’t work out for you, what career path do you think you would’ve gone down?
“I definitely still would’ve done something artistic. At first I actually wanted to be a tattoo artist, so anything that’s kind of creative or that gets me inspired creatively is what I’m interested in. Even in this job, it’s not just the makeup that I’m interested in – it’s the video editing, coming up with different concepts and products. So anything to do with creativity I’m obsessed with.”
Was starting your own brand something you always wanted to do? Did you always have that entrepreneurial side to you?
“I am not entrepreneurial, but I’ve definitely learned so much since starting my brand. I think every makeup artist dreams about having their own brand, we always have so many ideas for products and stuff. But I wouldn’t say I always wanted to be a businesswoman as such. I always wanted to create, and that’s what I feel like I was put on this earth to do. And I’m able to do that with my brand.
“I have amazing partners that handle most of the business stuff because that’s not my forte. What I like to focus on, and what I know I’m good at, is creating kick-ass makeup products. I did always want my own brand, I just didn’t think I’d be able to get it so early on in my career. But when you’ve got the best people around you, you can work together to make magic and it’s incredible.”
How did KASH Beauty come about?
“My management turned around to me and were like, ‘Why would you not have your own makeup brand?’ And I couldn’t give them an answer, and that’s an answer in itself! So I was like ok, let’s do this then. Because it was something I had such a passion and flair for.
“And I think I was able to create a brand so early on because of all the people that follow me, support me and have given me this platform to be able to connect with them and figure out what they do and don’t like, and what they think is missing from the market. I’ve got such a unique access to our customers and the people who support and follow me, so it just made sense to be honest.”
The makeup industry is very saturated, and it’s an extremely competitive industry. What would you say is KASH Beauty’s selling point?
“Well I would say me, first of all, because I was a working makeup artist. So it’s basically taken all the knowledge that I learned from college and working on counters, working on different skin tones and types, and with all types of people. But then also the fact that I’ve that access to such a wide pool of people online. So I think that’s what makes it a little bit different to other brands.
“We’re kind of moving away from this super perfect, super structured world. People want to feel like they are a part of something, so we’re bringing our customers along with us on our journey. They help us come up with shade names and colours, and they get involved when we tease new products. It’s so important to get your customers involved, because you can get some really good feedback and ideas from people.”
Social media has played a major role in your career. Were you ever worried about putting yourself out there online and sharing your talent with the world?
“No, to be honest I was never worried because social media wasn’t really a thing back when I started. Instagram was only really kicking off then, so I didn’t even know it could be a job. It wasn’t what it is today, so the level of trolling was not there back then. I know a lot more people want to get into content creation now, so it’s a lot more competitive and harder to climb up the ladder. So I definitely got in at a really good time, and nothing ever deterred me from it.
“The only person who can stop you is you…”
“I’m very determined and I won’t let anyone tell me no. If someone tells me not to do something, I’m going to do it twice – that’s just the way I’ve always been. I’m always a big believer in ‘the only person who can stop you is you’, and this is what I wanted to do so that was it, I was going for it.”
You have a massive online following now, and a lot of supporters. Have you had to deal with many online trolls?
“I feel like everyone online does, it comes with the job unfortunately. But to be honest, I’ve always had the attitude of if it’s nothing my friends or close family have ever said to me, or no one has ever had the balls to say it to my face, then I don’t care. You can say anything you want online, so I’m not going to take it to heart. I also get so many positive messages in a day, like I’ve got the loveliest group of people following me and supporting me, so if I use my time focusing on one negative person instead of the hundreds of good messages, then I’m doing these people sending me positive messages a disservice.”
What is your favourite and least favourite thing about social media?
“It’s funny because the favourite and least favourite things are kind of contradicting. My favourite thing is having the access, getting to share my talent and my love, but then the negative side that comes with that is some people might not like your talent or want to see your stuff. So there are positives and negatives, but I feel like the positives outweigh the negatives so much so that’s why I’m still doing what I do.”
Social media can be quite overwhelming and draining at times, especially when you have to use it every day for work. How do you protect your mental health and wellbeing at times like that? How do you switch off from the online world?
“That’s definitely something I’m trying to work on, because the world never sleeps and the internet never sleeps. Things are always changing and you have to keep up with it to stay relevant. For me, I like to take time out with my friends. I also try to switch off by putting my phone away at 8pm every evening – which I’m not very good at doing, but I’m trying. And then sometimes I’ll have a Sunday where I won’t post anything, I’ll just have a chill day. But that can be hard too because there’s so much going on right now.
“There’s KASH, there’s Keilidh MUA, and then there’s Keilidh – who is involved in both KASH and Keilidh MUA. So looking after Keilidh has to be the most important thing, because the other two don’t run without her. I’m just trying to find the balance right now.”
Keilidh’s boyfriend Darren Kavanagh has been by her side through the highs and lows of her career.
The pair met when they were in school, when Keilidh was just 14. Thirteen years later, and the couple are stronger than ever.
Keilidh and Darren are now living together in Co. Westmeath, where KASH Beauty’s headquarters are.
As I ask Keilidh to tell us a little bit about her relationship, she reveals she and Darren are hoping to take a huge step in their relationship soon…
You seem to have a really great support system, including your longterm boyfriend Darren. Can you tell us a bit about your love story?
“Yeah, so we’re celebrating 13 years together this year. I’ve been with Darren since I was 14, so a really long time. We met in school. I was in the year above Darren, so I’m a bit of a cougar apparently. I feel like we’ve been through every stage of multiple relationships.
“Like we went through the awkward just texting, barely able to look at each other in the school corridors because we were so embarrassed phase. And then that developed, and now we’re living together. We’ve been through so many types of relationships in the one relationship if that makes sense. We’ve grown up together.
“I always say Darren isn’t just my boyfriend or partner, he’s my person. We’ve been through so much together, and have helped each other grow. He’s the best.”
“Darren isn’t just my boyfriend or partner, he’s my person…”
Keilidh tells me that she also works with Darren, as he helps to create content for KASH Beauty.
Although they work and live together, the couple still enjoy doing their own thing and living independent lives…
“I know people say you shouldn’t work and live together, because it can be too much. But me and Darren are actually alright. We have our separate time, he has his football and stuff that keeps him busy. I think that’s very important to have those moments apart too.”
Do you think that’s one of the secrets to a happy relationship? Having your own lives too?
“Oh absolutely. I think having time to yourselves is so important, because being away from your partner makes you realise you miss them still. And missing someone is important because sometimes, you can take people for granted if you’re around them all the time. So it’s good to spend some time apart and to miss them.
“And then communication is the probably the biggest thing. Myself and Darren speak about absolutely everything. If there’s ever an issue, it’s never swept under the rug, it’s dealt with immediately. So I think communication is definitely the most important thing in a relationship.”
Do you think you guys will settle down in Ireland, or have you any plans to move abroad?
“So we’re living in Mullingar at the moment, which is where the KASH offices are. We’re renting at the moment, but we’re hoping to buy soon. It’s funny because feel like I’m doing the opposite of what everyone else my age is doing. Everyone seems to be going off travelling, but I started a business young so I’m focusing on that. And then hopefully when I’ve made all my money I’ll be able to go off and travel. But at the moment, I’m so focused on growing KASH so I’m happy to stay in Ireland and would love to buy a house here.
“We’re renting at the moment, but we’re hoping to buy soon…”
“I’ve been so lucky to get to travel the world with my job, and every time I visit somewhere new I think: ‘Is this the place I want to live?’ But I don’t get that feeling ever, I actually only get that feeling when I come home. So I definitely think I’ll stay in Ireland.”
KASH has obviously been a huge success in Ireland. Have you plans to break into the UK market?
“Yes so we recently launched in Boots Ireland and we’re now hoping to launch in Boots in the UK. The US is also on our list. We do ship worldwide, and we have customers all over the world, but we do definitely want to break into the UK first and then America. We only really started going into retail in Ireland recently, so that was our first thing – to establish ourselves properly here, which we have.”
Your recent collaboration with Charleen Murphy was a huge success. Have you plans to collaborate with any other influencers/stars in the future?
“Yeah I’d definitely be open to it. I think what made it so organic with Charleen is that she genuinely loves KASH. Working with her was a no-brainer for us. So for a future collaboration, we’d have to be working with somebody who is on that same level. Who genuinely loves KASH and has their own ideas, persona and makeup style. And someone that I’m inspired by. But yeah I’d definitely be open to it, 100%.”
If you could only wear one of your products for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
“It changes every day, but at the moment I’d say our Skin Glaze Blusher. If I’ve no makeup on, that’s genuinely the only thing I’ll put on my face. It gives you a gorgeous colour and glow. It’s just one of those products that works so well without any other makeup. I love how it looks by itself. And we’ve actually just released some new colours for summer.
What’s next for KASH Beauty?
“I can’t tell you! There’s a lot of exciting things coming… But the main focus is to keep growing, to break into the UK market, and then hopefully the US. And then to take over the world! I want to help KASH become the biggest brand it can be, and also for people to recognise it without me. I’d love for people to hear the name KASH and not have a clue who I am, but just really trust the brand and know that they come out with amazing products. That’s the dream.”
What’s been the most surreal moment in your career to date?
“There’s two things I would say. So for Keilidh MUA, it was when Morphe reached out to me and wanted me to be the face of their palette. That was huge because I’m just a girl from the backarse of nowhere and they wanted me to be on their palette – that was insane. I never thought that would happen in my wildest dreams.
“And then for KASH, honestly just having the brand in general. The fact that this is my life and I get to do this everyday, I’m extremely grateful. Getting to create products that make people feel good, and getting amazing reviews and messages every day – that’s the biggest thing in the world for me. It just means so much to have so many people supporting and believing in the brand. It’s the best thing ever. So every day is surreal to be honest. I feel very, very lucky.”
At just 27-years-old, Keilidh has already achieved so much in her life.
She is ambitious, determined and driven and from the beginning of her career to present day, she has stayed true to herself.
As we wrap our interview, I ask Keilidh what advice she wishes she could give her younger self, who was just starting out in the industry.
She also reveals what’s next for her and her brand…
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
“I’d say just keep doing it, trust your gut, and don’t let anyone tell you no. And just make sure you’re taking in everything. There’s a lot of amazing things that are going to happen, and you’re so lucky with the life that you have, but just make sure you’re really taking it all in.”
Where do see yourself five years from now? What’s left on your bucket list, professionally and personally?
“Well personally, I definitely want to buy a house. That’s the one thing I really want, to be able to build a home and do it up the way I want. Just to have that safe space. And then brand wise, I just want to keep building KASH to be the biggest brand it can be. I also hope to find the balance between KASH, Keilidh MUA, and Keilidh. It’s funny because you ask what do I want to be doing in five years time, and the answer is this. I want to keep doing exactly what I’m doing.”
With Keilidh’s incredible work ethic and passion, I have no doubt she will achieve everything she sets her mind on.