Career Diaries: Temptu Chief Creative Officer Samantha Mandor on How the Brand Went From Creating Temporary Tattoos to Pioneering Airbrush Makeup

June 15, 2020
Genesis Rivas
By: Genesis Rivas | by L'Oréal
Before Temptu became the user-friendly airbrush makeup tool many know today, founder Michael Benjamin was using the technology to create temporary tattoos for actors in Hollywood movies. The brand later moved into the professional makeup artist space, which is when his wife, Samantha Mandor, discovered her love for the flawless and natural-looking airbrush makeup. The only issue was that she couldn’t figure out how to use the intricate tool on her own. Together, they decided to make this technology accessible and easy to use for makeup lovers of all levels. Ahead, we chatted with Samantha Mandor to discuss the evolution of the brand, what’s next for the company and what inspires her.

Tell us about your background pre-Temptu. 

I was a book editor working at a publishing house in New York. I was surrounded by bookworms and I definitely had a less-is-more approach to beauty. I never in a million years thought I would be working at – let alone running – a makeup company.

What inspired you to start Temptu?

I grew really obsessed with how my skin was looking from getting professionally airbrushed with Temptu. My husband, Michael Benjamin, was running Temptu. He had always been drawn to artists and had started the pro artistry division. HDTV was on the rise and airbrush makeup became a must-have for artists because it was so seamless and natural-looking. Michael and I had a vision for simplifying airbrush technology to make it more accessible while delivering the same results. We grew laser focused on it and I eventually left my job as an editor to go realize our vision and make it a reality. 

You started as a tattoo design brand. Can you tell us a little bit about the evolution of Temptu?

Temptu was born from the film industry with a singular product: the invention of our temporary tattoo transfer for the cult classic movie Tattoo. Makeup artists flipped over it and Temptutattoos have become iconic products in the industry. Body art led to airbrush application and helped us to understand the intricacies of the equipment and what it can deliver. 

We eventually patented our technology that simplified the mechanics of the airbrush, and then launched the Temptu Air, the first portable, handheld airbrush beauty tool that delivers flawless skin in seconds.This is our hero product now.

What has been the biggest challenge for you? 

The biggest challenge for us has been educating people on how to use the technology. Even though we’ve simplified everything to make it fast and easy, it is still a new way of applying makeup for many and we’ve had to really work hard at showing people how this is going to simplify their beauty routines and make their lives easier.

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

Seeing people have their ‘aha moment’ with our products and getting giddy and excited to put them to work. Whether it’s a celebrity makeup artist or a barber or a bridal artist or just a woman who wants to look her best to go to work every day, I never lose the excitement and feeling of gratification in knowing that our innovations are making a positive difference in their lives.

What was one moment in your career that you’re most proud of?

Our greatest success as a brand has been responding to the needs of our pro community. We’re proud of being able to grow our business while maintaining our ability to have real dialogue with the people who inspire us. But I’m most proud of being able to run a company and raise my children. I’m constantly struggling to balance it, and one always suffers, but I’m proud of being able to keep it all going.

If you weren't in beauty, what would you be doing? 

If I weren’t in beauty, I’d probably still be editing books somewhere. I’m an introvert and I like the quiet moments.

What’s next for Temptu? 

We’re always innovating and have a lot of exciting products in the pipeline.  We will continue to expand our airbrush makeup business, while working on innovations in skin care, tanning and tattoo cover. Our next big project is a Limited Edition Rainbow Temptu Air in celebration of Pride month. This project is so special to us because we are doing it in partnership with The Trevor Project and are donating proceeds from every sale to the life-saving work they do as the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth.

Makeup is…? 

The ultimate pick-me-up. 

Photo Courtesy of: Samantha Mandar