Here is where the end began, according to blogger ZadiDoll who uncovered a stash of legal documents. It turns out that OCC attempted to sue Sephora for breach of contract in 2015 — revealing a tangled web of alleged broken promises and debt.
According to the filing — which I am SERIOUSLY paraphrasing — Sephora ordered $590,000 in new product from OCC (likely the RTW Lip Tar). Due to the fact that it took a long time for OCC to deliver the new product, Sephora terminated its vendor relationship with OCC in April 2015.
Sephora canceled the $590K order and allegedly refused to pay for half the cost of "permanently branded in-store fixtures." This caused OCC to file the suit claiming breach of contract.
In the legal documents, another fight over a sale emerges. In addition to the cancelled order, Sephora requested $832,700 from OCC to be put in escrow for all unsold product that needed to get returned to Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. If OCC could not do that, Sephora would "immediately liquidate such product at whatever price."
The claim was that this was deliberate and calculated. Per the legal documents, "According to OCC, Sephora is purposefully seeking to mark down its products before they are sold in order to drive OCC out of business."
Additionally, "OCC argues [...] it will suffer irreparable harm because an immediate mark down of the outstanding inventory would have financially devastating effects."
OCC attempted to get an injunction that would stop Sephora from "liquidating" the existing Obsessive Compulsive products at a loss to the indie brand, seeking the retailer to simply "sell down" the existing OCC stock until it was gone.
But the judge sided with Sephora, lifting a temporary restraining order that kept the beauty retailer from deeply discounting OCC products. Lip Tars went on clearance at Sephora (for around $9 each, according to Reddit), and by the end of 2015, Sephora no longer carried ANY Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' products.
As for what happened next? It's hard to say exactly. But there are a few things that we know for sure.
First, the RTW Lip Tars were sold on Beautylish and Nordstrom starting in 2015. Unfortunately, by this time there was more competition in the market — brands like Kat Von D Beauty, ColourPop, Kylie Cosmetics, and Lime Crime had also emerged with "wild" colored liquid lipsticks that were arguably easier to apply and wear. Additionally, high-quality vegan beauty products, once the exception pioneered by OCC, had become the norm.
By 2017, the brand seemed to be having a LOT of sales on its website, and had increased its Pro discount (a courtesy often offered to makeup artists and students) to 60%. Overseas customers also noted that UK-based retailers had also suddenly slashed prices.
Which brings us to April 2, 2018 — the day that keen-eyed Redditors noticed the OCC storefront had shuttered, and all the OCC social pages had gone dark.
There was literally NO official information about what had happened to Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, and people were starting to panic. Then legendary makeup artist (and longtime OCC fan) Kevin James Bennett posted an image and a statement that seemed to explain a lot.
The caption reads "I've been hounded all day to comment, but I have no info to offer. It appears that Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics has closed, and to say I'm sad would be a gross understatement. David, I'm sending waves of love and light for whatever the future brings. #OCCRIP. (Sephora, the blood is on your hands)."
Based on this comment, and allllllll the other evidence I've looked into, it would appear that Bennett is claiming the Sephora lawsuit effectively sunk OCC. I have reached out to Bennett for additional comment and confirmation on this claim.
Bennett — who again, is an absolute LEGEND in the makeup community, posted this additional message of support for the brand.
"A HUGE thank you to [brand founder David] for your amazing support of the pro community... You gave us innovation (THE liquid lipstick). You fearlessly celebrated diversity and inclusion in all of your advertising. You did this all with authenticity, generosity and true friendship."
So at the end of the day, what really happened to OCC? Why did the brand ghost the entire makeup industry, which its innovation largely helped to create?
Honestly, I don't know. I don't know why a brand so rooted in the beauty world would up and leave without a word. I imagine that if this was not a voluntary exit, it may have been too difficult or painful to say goodbye — but this abrupt departure has left many fans, myself included, with more questions than answers.
I haven't been able to find any public records of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Inc legally filing to dissolve the company. Likewise, OCC Inc seems to still own the trademark to Lip Tar, and all the associated branding. It's entirely possible that this is a temporary hiatus, which seems to be what most fans are hoping for.
But as the New York Times would say, based on the portrait that emerges from the documents and the timeline above, it seems unlikely to be the case.
I've reached out to OCC's PR, Nordstrom, Riley Rose, Urban Outfitters, David Klasfeld, and Sephora to try to REALLY nail down what happened to this beloved brand. In the meantime, hoard your Black Dahlia Lip Tar like a dragon... because there's no telling when you'll be able to get another.