Not So Plain Jane

By Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor | February 7, 2014

Mineral cosmetic company Jane Iredale celebrates 20 years of carving a niche for itself in the beauty industry.

In 1994, entertainment industry veteran Jane Iredale left show business for the beauty business and today, her privately-held eponymous brand is beloved by Hollywood celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Emma Watson. Distribution has also increased, as the products are now sold at skin care specialists and beauty apothecaries in 43 countries, as well as online. The firm is also celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014 with a variety of promotions and rollouts.

According to the Great Barrington, MA resident, starting a business on her own was a challenge in many ways. Iredale told Happi, “I used to fill orders from my kitchen table one by one, using a large mixing bowl. I lived at the top of a hill, and my driveway was so treacherous that delivery trucks couldn’t make the trip to my doorstep; I’d often have to travel a half mile to meet them and carry the supplies back on foot.”

Her initial line was limited…very limited.

“When I started the company, I had one product—Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder—and was considered to be a niche brand; I was creating a whole new category of mineral makeup, and it was a challenge to help consumers understand what true mineral makeup really was,” she explained. “And even today, although mineral makeup is more mainstream, it can still be challenging to help people understand the difference between a true mineral makeup and one using it as a marketing term.”

In the beginning, Iredale traveled door-to-door visiting offices of plastic surgeons and dermatologists, explaining the benefits of her new makeup and convincing the doctors to recommend it (and even sell it) to clients.

“It was a challenge, but I knew I had a high-quality product that was different than anything else on the market, and that it could really help women by improving their health and spirit. And that was worth fighting for!  I built the company one customer at a time,” she said.

Over the years, beauty offerings expanded to include guys (H/E brand) and brides (bridal collection). Distribution has also increased, as Iredale’s products are now sold at Nordstrom, Dermstore.com and Beauty.com, to name just a few outposts.

“Women of all ages and nationalities use Jane Iredale, and I attribute this success to my belief that true makeup artistry focuses not on conforming her face to the latest trends, but rather, enhancing her natural beauty and allowing her personality to shine,” she told Happi.

The company launched a new starter kit last month, which, according to Iredale, “embodies the foundation of our line and is an excellent representation of how we’ve evolved the mineral makeup category.”

Each kit includes Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener, PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation, Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder, Pommist Hydration Spray and a Powder Brush.

Hot launches at this mineral makeup brand include (left to right): Moonglow, a Starter Kit and Amazing Base Loose Powder.
For Spring 2014, the company is introducing the Magic Hour Collection, full of “golden light and warm, shimmering color,” said its founder. The entire collection is inspired by the cornerstone Moonglow Quad Bronzer, a golden bronzer made with 24-karat gold flakes.

“From the moment we released it, Moonglow became one of our hottest products. When we were looking for something special to do to celebrate our 20th anniversary, we couldn’t think of anything better than letting Moonglow be our inspiration,” said Iredale.

“The collection bathes skin in that special light we see just at sunset.”

Magic Hour also contains new long-lasting Lip Fixations in Craze, a coral, and Compulsion, a mauve; for the face, it has a softly gilded In Touch Cream Blush in Comfort; and for eyes, a PurePressed Eye Shadow Trio in Golden Girl and brand new Jelly Jar Gel Eyeliners, which can be used to create both smudged and precise lines.

For Iredale, keeping the brand’s origins consistent in past, present and future products is paramount.

“In the entertainment industry, working first as a casting director and then as a writer and producer in New York and Los Angeles, I worked alongside men and women whose success often depended on having a clear complexion, and witnessed how skin disorders and sensitivities could not only threaten their careers, but could also destroy self-confidence.” 

Makeup, she noted, while used to enhance the wearer’s appearance, was many times the underlying cause of the skin conditions these men and women sought to hide.

“So it suddenly occurred to me that there was a place for makeup that was good for the skin. I started thinking about a solution —a makeup with true skin care benefits.”

Looking ahead, Iredale hopes to maintain momentum.

“I am hoping we can keep innovating and bringing new products to market, and do it our way. The next 20 years will be even more incredible than the last!  We’ll continue to grow our international presence in spite of the regulatory challenges that get more and more complicated. The US remains our biggest market and we certainly intend to make sure we’re servicing that to the best of our ability. We’ve made customer service one of our strongest attributes and that will continue.”

Expansion aside, Iredale has faith that earnest intentions will make or break a brand.

“When you are an entrepreneur at heart, you don’t need motivation to start your own business, it just happens naturally.”
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