Ready to learn about the beauty industry from the characters that make it so special? Last January, we launched a four-part series exploring the wide range of professions in the industry (aptly titled So You Want a Career in Beauty?). Turns out, our community is even hungrier for opportunities to join and flourish in the beauty business. And though we love 'em, it's not just the artists and stylists that keep this field afloat. We're interested in the creative thinkers, business leaders, social media mavens, and scientific minds that make up this colorful world, and you should be too.
To start, we're introducing you to one of San Francisco's brightest beauty minds in the design field. She's responsible for some of the cutest, most coveted cosmetics packaging lining store shelves, and we're thrilled to share her wise words on designing for a beauty brand. Meet Hannah Malott, Benefit Cosmetics' creative director.
Creative Director, Benefit Cosmetics
I am responsible for all of our product package design, which includes the primary and secondary package design as well as artwork decoration for our products. I am also responsible for our product imagery which visually communicates the story behind them, and brings our products to life. My team is also in charge of our product catalog design.
I graduated from the University of Oregon where I studied advertising in the school of journalism. After college, I worked briefly at a boutique San Francisco ad agency before finding my true love of package design and makeup. I have been at Benefit for 15 years.
Besides designing and leading our team of exceptionally talented designers on packaging design projects and creating our visual ad campaigns, I get to go on photo shoots with amazingly gifted photographers, makeup artists, and set designers. I have had the opportunity to work on so many great things at Benefit! Having been [here] for 15 years, I’ve pretty much done and seen it all! I remember the first week I started at Benefit—I was mixing sticks of different lipstick shades with one of our co-founders to create that spring’s color collection. Another early memory was of staying in the office until all hours of the night, writing catalog copy with our co-founders and howling with laughter. They were willing to take risks and that was a big lesson I learned from them when I was starting out. I’m a makeup junkie and I get to design super fun packaging for makeup. What else can I say?
I remember one of the first projects I worked on at Benefit was “Dr. Feelgood.” Before we could start the package design, we needed a name. There were about five of us sitting around a table looking at this amazing translucent white balm that left your skin feeling like absolute silk, and we were baffled as to what name we could give that would really capture its essence. We started talking about the product and I said that it leaves your skin feeling like you had just visited a great skin doctor—then I said “Dr. Feelgood,” and that became the name! We high-fived.
There are a couple of upcoming product launches that I am ecstatically proud of but can’t tell you about since they are not launching for some time… Having said that, I would say seeing the enormously huge success of one of our latest product launch—They’re Real mascara. We work so hard on all of our launches, working on every detail of art, design and execution, but at the end of the day if it does not do well in the markets then we obviously did not hit the right cord with our customer. Our number one priority is to please our customers—to surprise, to delight and to make them smile.
Our brand is a bit eclectic to say the least, so the greatest challenge is keeping each new product design unique and exciting and different than anything we’ve done in the past while maintaining a consistency and respect for our brand DNA. Which, by the way, is also what keeps us challenged and excited. Each of our product launches needs to have a new personality and story.
Advice for designers:
A design background, of course, but also a passion for really good design and an obsession for details. A willingness to take risks. For Benefit in particular, an appreciation for nostalgic times—a sense of fun and understanding of smart humor that women want to relate to—and of course a love for makeup and beauty.
Having a really strong portfolio doesn’t hurt. No matter if you are a student or working as a designer looking into getting into packaging and design. If you have great work that shows a range of skills and aesthetic sensibilities, that will certainly help your chances. Also, never stop studying trends in packaging and design. There are many great packaging-specific design blogs which are really great resources. I’m always looking at, shopping for, and studying packaging that I think exemplify great design.
How to succeed:
Make yourself invaluable. Be someone who wants from their very core to be the best at whatever it is they do. Someone who is not afraid to take risks. Someone who never stops learning. Someone with a passion and attitude that others want to be around.
Beauty Calling is a new bi-monthly column profiling experts from all across the beauty industry. From art to science to business, no territory is going uncharted, and we’re exploring what it takes to succeed—from the source. Have a particular profession you're interested in? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Art and photos courtesy of Benefit Cosmetics.