There was a time when supermodels rose to fame by becoming the “faces” for everything from fine fragrances to fizzy sodas. Fast-forward to now, and the goal is not a billboard but a seat on the board. Witness the rise of the new beauty moguls: smart, connected women in film, fashion, and the world of Instagram who
It’s a radical move that’s redefining the industry by ushering in fresh thinking about the types of products put in the pipeline—and frank discussions about our beauty ideals.
Aubrey Plaza with Peet Rivko.
“I think this is a major turning point,” says Jessica Richards, an industry expert
Karlie Kloss with Kopari and Moon Juice products.
If these women are not creating the brands themselves (see Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cindy Crawford, and Christie Brinkley, as well as such influencers as Huda Kattan, Jaclyn Hill, and Marianna Hewitt), “many of them are backing brands they personally use,” Richards says.
Leandra Medine Cohen, of Man Repeller fame, invested in the clean skincare brand Drunk Elephant last spring for the simple reason that she kept running out of her stash. “My husband started using the products, and then I turned my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, and my mom on to them. Everyone started using them.”
Leandra Medine Cohen with Drunk Elephant.
Similarly, actress Olivia Wilde recently aligned with True Botanicals as
Actress Aubrey Plaza, meanwhile, invested in Peet Rivko, a chemical-free line for sensitive skin, after suffering numerous flare-ups from using other brands. “I was impressed by the idea that absolutely nothing in it would irritate my skin,” she says. “I liked getting behind something I really believed in.”
That’s the kind of put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is endorsement that resonates in a crowded space. “I think consumers are very savvy today,” says Richards, adding that they can pick up on the slightest whiff of #SPONSOREDCONTENT. Having previously done spokesperson stints for cosmetics giants, Wilde says of True Botanicals, “It’s really nice to come from an authentic, personal standpoint and say, ‘This is something I’m using, and I believe in it.’” (Among the items she’s obsessed with: the Renew Pure Radiance Oil and Antioxidant Booster.)
Olivia Wilde with True Botanicals.
Having a celebrity backer can obviously boost a fledgling brand, helping it stand out in a saturated market. Karlie Kloss generated buzz in the business trades when she teamed up with a private equity firm to invest in Kopari in 2017. The skin-and body-care line built a $5 million brand out of its sustainable coconut oil–based formulas in less than 24 months. The model/entrepreneur also invested early in Moon Juice, the California apothecary that went from selling beauty
And then there’s Jennifer Aniston, who joined the executive ranks of Living Proof six years ago, helping to catapult the brand to success (she has since left; now she has her own fragrance brand), and Linda Evangelista, who is a VP at Erasa, a science-driven skin line that delivers the anti-aging results of cosmetic procedures, minus the needle.
Moguls who have built their personal brands from scratch had often spotted a gap in the market. Such insights, Richards says, “change the types of products we see.” She expects more travel-friendly and wellness-oriented items to hit shelves (e.g., modern cure-alls for titans busy running their empires—and the entire millennial generation). Plaza is a vocal tester for all of Peet
Wilde, meanwhile, is throwing herself into product development (“I’m really into fragrance and aromatherapy,” she hints) and using her platform to campaign for safer beauty regulations. “That might lead to testifying in Congress or helping to pass certain legislation.” Her intent, she says, is to “change the way the industry works.”
Shonda Rhimes with Dove.
Cohen wants to go one step further and change the relationship women have with their beauty products, making it more personal, less transactional. “It’s the story that you’re telling around the product,” she says. “And I love narrating and developing that story.”
Other Hollywood powerhouses who have gotten into the mix: Shonda Rhimes recently teamed up with Dove to film a series of videos that highlight the diversity of experiences real women have when it comes to their appearance, Reese Witherspoon is Elizabeth Arden’s storyteller-in-chief, and Angelina Jolie worked both sides of the camera for the debut of Guerlain’s latest Mon Guerlain fragrance.
Angelina Jolie with Guerlain fragrance.
All this comes at a moment when the narrative around beauty itself is quickly changing. “I think now more than ever people want to feel they’re part of something,” Richards says. Larger-than-life campaigns, with untouchable stars, hold little appeal to a generation brought up on YouTube influencers and crowd-sourced makeup lines, after all. Instead, moguls are the kind of women we can relate to— #GIRLBOSSES who have busy work lives and, hey, bouncy hair, too.
Reese Witherspoon with Elizabeth Arden.
“When you buy Drunk Elephant or Kopari, you’re getting a piece of Leandra and Karlie,” says Richards. Wilde, for one, is ready for the industry to embrace a different sort of muse. “My role is much more proactive,” she says of giving up one-note campaigns for something decidedly more grassroots—and perhaps more inspiring. Now, she says, “my voice is as useful as my face.”
This story appears in the March 2018 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE TODAY
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.