Recently, we were lucky enough to catch up with the very Sassy Ms. Julie Bell, Executive Vice-President of one of our favourite beauty brands – Benefit Cosmetics! Julie is the brains behind some of Benefit’s most fabulous and innovative products and is a seasoned pro that’s been working at Benefit for 13 years. We couldn’t wait to sit down and chat to her about her inspiration, make-up tips and the amazing ‘Roller Lash’ mascara that has taken Asia by storm.
Tell us about your background and how you got into the cosmetic industry?
Good question! So, this is a true story that I haven’t shared with many people… I was actually helping a friend who applied for a job at a well known cosmetics brand. As I was looking over the job description for her, I started thinking to myself – this sounds like something I could do! So I applied for it too, and turns out I got it! I worked my way through the ranks and ended up as a senior executive at Estée Lauder Companies, before moving on to the fabulous Benefit!
Benefit is a fun-loving and quirky company that’s always inventing new must-have items. What are your favourite things about working for the brand?
What I love most about Benefit is our DNA. Our DNA for me is about instant beauty solutions, fun and laugher – and San Francisco is a great place to be creative and innovative! I just think our DNA is spot on… I feel our DNA, it’s in my blood!
What exactly does a beauty solution inventor do on a daily basis?
I pray! No really, I meet with teams, different teams and work on different projects. I’ll meet with the copy team that comes up with crazy names we use, I’ll meet with loads of different people in just one day. I love it! I do try to bring a lot of laughter and fun to work though… for example, every day I noticed that in the afternoon, people started to snack in the office. Everyone gets to that time when they just want to snack on junk food, and instead of that, I decided to start a dance party every day at 4pm! Getting people active and having fun it so much better for inspiration.
Benefit places a lot of emphasis on new and innovative products, how do you stay ahead of trends?
To be honest, we don’t really study trends – all I know is customer needs and beauty dilemmas. I focus on the needs and problems that girls and myself have. I’m not trend based at all! I just focus on Benefit and what we need to do to make our products high performing.
How did you come up with this particular product?
Actually, we started it before we launched the ‘They’re Real’ mascara – we knew there was another mascara need that we weren’t focusing on. I used actual hair rollers as the inspiration, and thought why not apply the same technique to eyelashes to give them more of a curl?!
What inspires you?
So many things! Just living life provides me with endless inspiration. For example, I went with my hairdresser to a lake cottage for a few days and we went jet skiing – when I was on that jet ski, my hair being blown about and my face was getting drenched and I thought OMG! I wish I had this one product. I went on a trip to Asia which really inspired a great product that we have coming up… I won’t say too much, but the environment in Asia can be really harsh on your skin so we came up with this REALLY innovative product that I think you guys will love.
Honestly, for inspiration I just look at girls and I think about what dilemmas they have and what they struggle with. At Benefit, we’re all about making things easy, not hard – it should be fun! There’s enough drama in the world already, so when it comes to makeup it should be just be really fun. I love how my ideas can really come to life too. I’ll be in a meeting and raise my hand, and I know people are thinking, “Oh no, here she comes!”. And then I have really smart people who work with me, and we brainstorm together to see what we can do with this idea, and then we just go!
I’ll let you in on the secret ingredient to taking a creative idea and making it happening… having fun!
What were your biggest make-up mistakes growing up and what is your fail-safe regime now?
My biggest make-up mistake was lining my eyes – that’s why I wanted to make the liner so bad. I couldn’t line my eyes and people would make fun of me sometimes! I would even wear sunglasses to work as I just couldn’t put my liner on properly… that’s why we came up with the ‘They’re Real’ Push-up Liner. Anyone can use it! It’s like a liner for dummies.
If you had to bring only four beauty products to a desert island, what would they be?
– A brow product
– Pore-fessional. This is a big deal to me – pores are so important and can really make a difference!
What are your top make-up tips for girls living in a hot and humid climate like Hong Kong?
On a daily basis, it’s all about pores – keep them clean as it will minimise the appearance of them. Your pores can go insane in the heat, so make sure you have them fixed. Flawless skin is all about your pores.