General Manager, Beauty and Merchandising Strategy at HSN
Years in the industry: 35
Her two cents: “I think I was born with a lipstick in my hand. I started out at the makeup counter as a stock girl and makeup artist , but realized I wasn’t very good at it so I decided to pursue the business side of beauty instead. I went through the Bloomingdale’s executive training program and became a cosmetic buyer—it was such a tremendous experience. I ended up back in school for a masters in finance. I worked at some amazing brands—YSL, Erno Lazlo, Escada Beauté, and Sephora. Working at HSN has been a huge learning curve. It’s truly a 24-7 job, and retail is so fast-paced. As GM of merchandising, I curate the best of beauty and make sure we have the right mix of products to make our customers happy in a compelling, entertaining way. The industry is so rapid and you really have to work to keep up. Everything is a resource—get yourself outside of beauty and start looking at macro trends. Go to stores, read magazines, and open your eyes! Do you need a master’s degree in business or finance? Not necessarily. Keep an open mind, stay flexible, and learn how to multi-task. I just believe you have to love beauty. Some people suggested I try another industry, but I can’t help it. I keep coming back.”
Beauty Role Model
President, Bliss World
Years in the industry: 20
His two cents: “In college, my career counselor told me that I had business written all over me, so I got a degree in marketing, then eventually an MBA. After graduating, I started working at Pond’s—admittedly, I didn’t get the appeal of the industry at first. But after three months, it hit me! Beauty is fast, creative, and trend-driven—it’s sexy! It’s about making women feel better about themselves. We quadrupled the business at Pond’s in six years. After roles at Unilever, L’Oréal, Garnier, and Burt’s Bees, I eventually ended up at Bliss. What can I say? It’s a wonderful company. We’re fast-paced and entrepreneurial, just the way I like it. The best thinking and ideas win. My advice? Be careful what you ask for. Many people want the president’s role without understanding the workload it entails. The ego drives them to the title, even though they may not be suited for the position. Get a deep understanding of who you are, what you’re best at, and what you love doing. If you’re really creative, ask yourself if you want to spend 90% of your time on administration, supply chain, and HR issues or 90% on creative? If it’s the latter, the role might not be right. As sexy as it sounds, working in a small, fast-moving entrepreneurial environment isn’t for everyone.”
Beauty Role Model
Beauty Futurologist and Owner, Mirror Mirror Imagination Group
Years in the industry: 20+
Her two cents: “I’m a beauty futurist—meaning, I predict what’s going to be popular in beauty tomorrow or in 20 or 40 years. Out of 900 futurists in the world, I’m the only one that specializes in beauty. I remember watching Revlon commercials as a little girl living in the Midwest—I fell in love with the glamour of it all! I moved to New York, graduated from FIT, and immediately began working for Revlon. I became their youngest VP. Before I started my own business, I built up a lot of experience working at Revlon and Estée Lauder. I developed Revlon ColorStay lipstick—it was originally called Lip Sexxy! People would always come into my office and ask me for the next big trends—they’d say ‘mirror mirror on the wall’ as a joke, but the concept stuck. Forecasting beauty is different than fashion. You need a wide scope of talents including taste, R&D knowledge, intuition, and creativity. Sometimes I just know what works and what doesn’t, but you also must also think critically and analytically—remember, every trend has a contradiction. If you’re interested, take courses that focus on fashion and beauty, get an internship at a global trend forecasting agency, and immerse yourself in culture. Keep on the pulse of every industry out there.”
Beauty Role Model
Founder, Borba Inc. and Co-Founder, E.L.F. Cosmetics
Years in the industry: 15+
His two cents: “You really have to explore and understand what’s around you. I invent and market my products around common behavior. It’s called ethnographic research. I would always drive by the 99 cent store on my way to work, and I saw tons of expensive cars in the parking lot. So one day, I went inside and asked women what they were doing there. They were buying cosmetics! It was for kids’ parties, but they wished they could purchase high quality makeup at an affordable price. That was my Aha! moment for E.L.F. The same thing with Borba—nutraceuticals was a brand new endeavor in the marketplace. You successfully launch products from a concrete need in the industry. When you’re starting out with a brand, you must wear all hats. It’s going to be hard and you’re going to be scared. I’ve had my share of failures with my successes. Take a chance and jump in—you don’t need to own the world tomorrow. Have confidence and build yourself a strong support system. And most important? Stay humble and show gratitude.”
Beauty Role Model
Three-time Academy Award-Winning Special Effects Makeup Artist and Judge on SyFy's Face Off
Years in the industry: 30+
Her two cents: “When I was little, my neighbor used to make me up for Halloween. My friend always wanted to be a fairy—I preferred a monster. I was always interested in the concept of changing your physical being. And a three-dimensional change is such a fantastic way for an actor to realize their character. When I started, there weren’t any schools that taught makeup let alone special makeup effects. The industry was in its infancy at the time—it was hard for women to go into makeup because we typically did hair while the men did makeup. So it was a turning point in my career when I was one of the first five women to be let in the union. On Face Off, half the contestants are incredibly talented women! I didn’t have special training, but I think it’s important to go to school. It’s expensive, but there’s so much to learn. You can read all the books you want but there’s nothing like hands-on training. And if you want to be a successful makeup artist in the movie industry, you have to know everything—not just beauty. A good artist can work with any product to achieve the desired effect—whether it’s trauma, prosthetics, or beauty makeup—and should understand how to care for the skin. This is such a personalized business—we literally touch people every day. You have to know how to work with your actors, and everything is a team effort. A lot of people think they’re bigger than the job and their egos get in the way—I don’t hire gossipers. I hire people with great communication skills and a solid artistic background, and punctuality, proper dress, and good hygiene matter. There’s plenty of work for everyone if you know what you’re doing.”
What's your ideal work environment?
Fast-paced and entrepreneurial.
Flexible and inspiring.
Collaborative and artistic.
How would you best describe yourself?
What other industries inspire you?
Business and finance.
Film and art.
Television and digital.
Health and wellness.
What club were you a part of in grade school?
In your circle of friends, what kind of Beauty are you?
The expert—you've got the product know-how.
The fashionista—always a trend ahead of the game.
The risk-taker—you'll try any look at least once.
The perfectionist—no raccoon eyes for you.
The mother—everyone comes to you for DIY advice.
What is beauty to you?
A fun and passionate expression.
A way to make women feel better about themselves.
An indicator of the times.
An opportunity to solve my problems.
A creative transformation.
Which type of literature do you enjoy reading most?
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Missed the first three parts of "So You Want a Career in Beauty?" Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our series and explore more careers in the beauty biz!