As much as we love sharing with you the latest and greatest products and trends, sometimes we want to take it a step further and introduce you to the powerhouse women behind some of your favorite beauty brands. Recently, we got to speak to beauty expert and founder of the eponymous brand, Jane Iredale, at a launch for her brand new supplement line that just dropped this month.
Read on to learn how this leader in the mineral makeup movement got her start in the beauty game, what wellness really means, and the best beauty advice she's ever received (trust us, it's good).
What was your first job in the beauty business?
"My first job was starting my company! I didn't know anything about the beauty business. I had a career in the entertainment business—I was a casting director and a producer and writer—and along the way, I worked with a lot of makeup artists and celebrities and so on, but I never thought of myself as being in the beauty business. I suppose in a sense I was, but it was really the entertainment industry.
So it wasn't until I developed Amazing Base, which again I didn't think I was being 'in the beauty business,' I thought of it as being a product that I thought could help women feel good about themselves. And then gradually as the brand developed, we realized 'Oh we're in the beauty business.'"
"We started out with Amazing Base, and then we were able to find a way to press it without using a lot of junk. And honestly, we started with the doctors and then a few spas and then people started saying, "Well do you have a blush, do you have an eyeshadow, do you have a lipstick?' and so that's how the line gradually grew."
What was your biggest challenge starting out?
"The biggest challenge I think for everybody, at least for most entrepreneurs, when you start out is the financial side of things. And for me it wasn't the normal problem. For me it was we were growing so fast. So trying to finance the growth was hard."
So where did you see yourself at 20?
"I honestly never looked that far ahead. At 20, I was working in London just kind of surviving, trying to figure out what I want to do. I talk to kids now in college and they say, 'Oh my gosh what do I want to do? People keep asking me what my major is!' I say don't go there with yourself. Just go through life! Get experiences. Gather experiences. See I think what happened with me was that I amassed a lot of different experiences that equipped me for this job: traveling, writing, understanding there's a connection with what you put in your body and the way your skin looks. All those things at some point kind of add up and you say, 'Oh I think I'd like to do this!' I mean it was just me. I was doing all the writing, all the selling, I didn't even know I could sell! I just found I could do it."
Amazing! So looking 20 years in the future, what do you see for both you and the company?
"Well, I hope it continues to grow in the wellness area. The one thing I'd like to get away from is feeling that makeup is used to cover things up. I'd like to think of it as something that enhances people's beauty because they feel good about themselves. Feeling good about yourself has a huge effect on the way you look, and for people who have glowing skin, putting makeup on top of that only enhances that. I would like to feel that our company is making a real contribution is changing people's lives."
Wellness seems like a huge trend right now—
"It is now, but it wasn't when we started!"
Exactly. It's the new "it" thing. What do you think sparked this movement?
"Well. I think it's been a coming together of a lot of things. The whole exercise movement for one. When I first came to New York, nobody went to the gym. Now everybody's going to the gym. It's become almost a badge of honor. People always want to tell you when they've gone to the gym or they ran a mile—sort of an 'I did it, you didn't.'
People are getting more conscious about what they're putting into their bodies and people are getting conscious about the effects of drugs, too. So I think it's just a coming together of a lot of things and companies like ours using that word, wellness. Wellness is all tied around anti-aging, and maybe the impetus is being the Baby Boomers and the generation below that who are pushing that movement because they feel great and they want to stay feeling that way! There's been a huge increase in Alzheimer's but I think that's because people have cut fat out of their diet and the brain needs fat, at least that's the latest studies. So I just think we know so much more than we ever did, and that's contributed a lot to the whole wellness trend."
What empower and fulfills you the most about being a female entrepreneur in the beauty world?
"I love to solve problems. I've always been a problem solver. I can always see at least potential solutions to problems quickly and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. Done and dusted, on to the next thing! So that and also creating products is very satisfying."
I bet that's rewarding to see women using them.
"Yes, and part of that whole thing is the feedback. When we first started, we were strictly business to business and all of the feedback came from our partners or their clients. But now we get that direct feedback all the time—sometimes we don't want it—the good and bad! But when we hear from people what a difference we've made in their lives, it just makes the whole thing worthwhile. We send it around to everybody and they all get to read it!"
What's the best business advice you've ever received?
"Oh, it came from an agent I was working with when I was in the entertainment business. I was just setting up my own casting company and he said, 'Best piece of advice I can give you is: always do what you say you're going to do.' And I've stuck to that. I think it's a bedrock for everything because if you always do what you say you're going to do, it means you're careful about what you say you're going to do. No rash promises. It requires you to think things through and then follow up. That builds credibility and trust. And today, with product, that trust is absolutely key all the way down the line."
So true! Conversely, what's the best beauty advice you've ever received?
"Well, I think the number one is protection from the sun. Number one. And I think the second piece, way, way, way down the list, would be eyebrows and how important they are to the face. they're very, very important! I think people are beginning to understand about the importance of them now, but a long time ago, a makeup artist said to me they focus the eye, they balance the face. They're really key."
Quick, what are your top three Jane Iredale products?
"For me, the things I wear everyday are the Pure Pressed Base in warm sienna, my go-to lip product is Forever Peach because it stays on all day long and it just make my lips feel great, and frankly, my Lash Conditioner. If I try to wear mascara now without that lash conditioner underneath, it's like, 'What happened to my lashes!'"
Which Jane Iredale products have you tried? Share your favorites below!