Los Angeles-based Korean American Minna Ha has made a name for herself in the makeup industry by founding UNII Cosmetics. Taking a hands-on approach in the development of her line, she has created an “innovative, re-usable and chic” makeup palette that has been featured in publications such as Marie Claire and Real Simple. Read our Q&A with Minna to find out more about her and to read our review of the UNII palette!
Q&A with Minna Ha
How did you first get involved in the make-up/beauty industry?
I’m an architect by training, so when I first came up with the idea of the UNII palette I had no previous experience in the make-up industry. Everything I knew was from the consumer’s perspective — I’d been using beauty products since I was a teen, and since I went to college out of state I started traveling a lot during those years. I realized what a hassle it was to travel with all my favorite beauty products — my make-up bag invariably got messy during plane trips, and I was always digging around in my purse for the color I wanted. This gave me the idea for a simple, streamlined product that would help keep all my blushes and eyeshadows in one place.
How did you bridge the gap between your architecture background and beauty/makeup?
I’ve always been interested in product design, and architecture is kind of like a large-scale form of that. Architectural design can be highly customized and one-of-a-kind. Product design involves manufacturing and mass production which appealed to me because it has the potential to be used (and hopefully enjoyed) by a greater number of people. While studying architecture and design in college and grad school, I took courses on product design, manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and business. This helped build the foundation that eventually led to UNII Cosmetics. Transitioning from architecture to product design was natural, but I had a lot to learn (and still do) about the beauty industry.
What’s the story behind the name, UNII?
I chose the name UNII because it concisely describes the product. It’s ‘one palette’, ‘unique’ and ‘universal’ – being one of the first resuable make-up palettes on the market and the first of its design. It’s universal — the flat magnetic bottom allows for the storage of make-up pots from almost any brand.
What makes the UNII compact a must-have for makeup users?
There are many aspects that we designed into the palette to make life simpler for its users — from the large mirror in the cover to the magnetic bottom and thumb grip, the UNII Palette is all about the needs of busy make-up users everywhere. The plastic clasp ensures that palette stays closed during travel, and the size is perfect for tucking into a purse or overnight bag. Personally, my favorite thing about the palette is how much time it saves me — no more digging around looking for the right shade of eyeliner or eyeshadow. Now I know exactly where all my make-up is!
What are your go-to beauty products, and what products do you have in your UNII compact?
My go-to beauty products are the brands that offer refills, which make it easy for me to purchase and pop straight into my palette without any wasteful excess packaging. Lately I’ve found myself using MAC, Stila, Bobbi Brown, and Aveda. My latest eyeliner discovery is Powerstyle super waterproof liquid eyeliner.
Any beauty tips for Audrey readers?
Have fun with your makeup! It’s a great way for you to express your individuality and to temporarily change up your look. Don’t be afraid to try something new as it can always be wiped right off if you’re not happy with the end result I created UNII for the true makeup lover and encourage everyone to experiment with and enjoy the art of cosmetics.
Product review: UNII Palette
Looking at photos and videos of the UNII palette online, I was very excited to receive my palette in the mail. Opening up the package, I was pleased to find a generously-sized, empty make-up palette, ready for me to fill with shadows, blushes and the like.
The UNII palette is made of a strong plastic/thick acrylic casing, so it is strong and durable. It has a large mirror on the inside lid and comes with a sheet you can use to place on the back of any depotted pans in order for them to properly adhere to the palette. It also has a clasp that ensures that all of the makeup inside the palette will stay firmly inside.
Initially, I wanted to put some of my eyeliners inside, but unfortunately they were a bit too big to fit inside the palette. With that, I decided to depot some of my makeup, or removing makeup from the container it comes in (the UNII website has tutorial videos on how to do so). Initially a little difficult (though I did manage to get the hang of it), I placed four L’Oreal eyeshadows and a Neutrogena blush inside my UNII, along with some travel-sized brushes.
From my use of the product, the genius of the palette is with its convenience because most of the powder makeup that I use daily is now in one convenient, compact place that is easy to travel with. I also like having the option of switching out the makeup I have in the palette; being able to customize the palette adds to the fun of being creative with your makeup!
However, I do wish the palette was a bit deeper, so that larger products or brushes can fit. Although the product is “easier” to use with makeup that comes in refills, the process of depotting is relatively simple and shouldn’t deter people from buying the product.
Overall, I was very impressed with the product. It is a clean, sturdy, space-saving and convenient way to store makeup that makeup lovers should consider purchasing.
To find out more information about the UNII palette, log on to http://uniicosmetics.com.