March 1st, 2016
She was one of the first artists to embrace a different retail avenue when creating her own product line. After launching with huge success onto QVC in the US back in the ’90s, Laura Geller Make-Up was launched in stores here late last year. Having already tried some of her hero products through QVC, we were thrilled that Laura’s products would be more widely available, because we can’t get enough of the textures and colours in her expansive range. We chatted with Laura Geller herself about how things have changed since her first foray on QVC.
WP: What first sparked your interest in make-up?
LG: It would have to be when I was twelve or 13 years old, growing up in the suburbs of New York City. I had a neighbour whom I was fascinated by. She worked in the cosmetics business, and I was fascinated by how make-up could transform her. I would spend as much time as possible hanging out with her and asking questions about make-up. I would even spend time with her at the local department store where she worked and that was it – my natural curiosity was piqued! Make-up excited me. From that point on, instead of going out with friends I wanted to spend time behind the cosmetics counter!
WP: Did you attend a school or a course? If so, where? What are your thoughts on traditional training vs. skills you pick up on the job?
LG: I went to beauty school and have a license in cosmetology, but also studied theatre and film make-up at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. One of my favourite classes was anatomy of the face where we learned about contour and highlight – more specifically, this gave me the foundation for how to apply make-up depending on one’s bone structure.
It is important to improve your skill set throughout your career with additional make-up courses. And of course, once you have learned the technique, practice makes perfect.
WP: Making the jump from an assistant to a stand-alone artist can be difficult – do you remember your first solo job? How did you make that leap?
LG: My first solo job was as a make-up artist at The Make-up Center in NYC. I was a little ‘green’ and somewhat intimidated, but I acted confidently and made sure the client felt comfortable.
WP: What makes a good assistant?
LG: Someone who is eager to learn, and willing to roll up their sleeves to get the job done. Someone who will do any and everything to help you do your job efficiently and will not try to steal the spotlight, rather will work behind the scenes to make you look better.
WP: How did your make-up line come about?
LG: After years of selling other brands, I was finally able to sell my own product on QVC US in 1997. I was able to take my own learnings from stage and theatre make-up and offer a contour and highlight kit to teach others – which is one of my favourite things to do! Taking make-up artist theory and teaching others tips and tricks for at home wear was the best part… but the sales didn’t hurt either!
WP: Your baked cream-to-powder formulations are one of the key elements of your range – what makes this process so special? How long did it take you to settle on this technique?
LG: Swirls of liquid pigments are baked for 24 hours on terracotta tiles, then hand-finished in Italy into silky domes of powder. As Baked products are made without additional fillers or binders, the colors are more vibrant, leaving your skin with the most radiant, most color-true finish possible. It has taken us years to perfect this technique and we are constantly making adjustments to ensure the consumer takes home the highest quality product.
WP: What are your favourite 3 products in your range?
LG: Choose a favourite? They’re like my children – I can’t be asked to choose just one! Though if I had to….
Spackle! Always start with Spackle® Under Make-up Primer (and there are plenty to choose from in the line-up, depending on your skin care concern). We will prime the canvas with Spackle and one of my other favourites, Balance-N-Brighten Color Correcting Foundation. Another favourite is probably Blush-n-Brighten. The breadth of shades available ensures there is a shade for everyone and every season!
WP: MUAs are increasingly becoming more well-known to public consumers, often through social media, while tutorials by untrained artists fill YouTube etc. Having launched your brand with QVC, you achieved a similar awareness ahead of the curve. What are your thoughts on the changes in social media and consumer awareness for make-up and artists since you launched your brand?
LG: We’ve seen first-hand the impact social media can have on a brand. In the past year, our social media following has more than quadrupled. We are especially excited with the success we’ve seen with social media darling Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator in Gilded Honey – perhaps you’ve had time to #getgilded?! My team and I talk to bloggers and vloggers every day and it’s one of the most exciting parts of my job!
WP: What advice do you have for MUAs who are looking to branch out – perhaps start their own freelance business, or even get into product development as you have?
LG: Be persistent. Be persuasive. Be sure to sell an authentic product. Above all else, be sure to know what differentiates your brand from the others – why is your brand unique?
WP: What does 2016 hold for Laura Geller?
LG: Currently, the brand is growing in all channels in the US and we felt there was no better time to continue building the brand’s momentum than with a UK retail launch at Debenhams and House of Fraser! As a brand, we’ve had a presence for some time on QVC in the UK (as the #1 color cosmetics brand). We will continue to open retail stores in the US and UK throughout 2016 and into 2017. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Laura Geller New York brand!
You can also follow @lauragellerbeauty on Instagram and #beauty2share for the latest and greatest news and information from the brand!