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How to make it in the beauty industry

Coco Chanel famously posed that women have two weapons – cosmetics and tears. Years later, the beauty industry is booming and one many makeup aficionados want to get into.

Jane McGuire
12th February 2016
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Yet as many of you browse for beauty courses each day, it’s important to look beyond our own makeup bags and at the extremely competitive industry before us. Getting into the beauty industry can be tough, so to reassure you we have taken a look back at the stories behind some of the industry’s biggest names...and before you make assumptions, they’re not all women!


Jo Malone 

Growing up in a council house in Kent, Jo Malone left school at the age of 14 with no qualifications to her name after struggling with her severe dyslexia. Starting out doing facials, Jo would send her nutmeg and ginger bath oils to send her favourite clients as a thank you. These little thank yous became so popular her husband quit his job as a surveyor to help her set up her first shop at 154 Walton Street in Chelsea. Fast forward almost 20 years and Jo Malone is a household name, her simple scents synonymous with luxury, wrapped up in a cream box with a black bow. In 1999 Malone sold the brand for ‘undisclosed millions’ to the Estée Lauder brand, remaining as creative director until she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2003. After making a full recovery, she has gone on to prove her power in the Great British beauty industry with her new brand, Jo Loves. 

Jo Malone
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Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder started her beauty company in 1946, selling a simple skin cream developed by her uncle who worked as a chemist. Seven years later her Youth Dew beauty oil put the company on the beauty industry map, as her and her husband sold a handful of handmade products, created in the kitchen of a former restaurant. No one would have suspected Lauder would go on to become the richest self-made woman in the world. Following her death in 2004, Estée left behind an outstanding legacy; her company valued at $26.43 billion dollars, with 40,200 employees. Not bad for some homemade face cream. 

Estee lauder
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Bobbi Brown

After gaining a degree in theatrical makeup, Bobbi Brown moved to New York to try and find work as a makeup artist. With a great deal of competition, it quickly became clear that Brown was far more than an editorial makeup girl, building up a rapport with some of the industry’s most respected photographers. Ten years later, Brown knew the makeup work well enough to realise that the products she spent her days applying were too artificial; there was nothing out there to create a ‘natural’ look. In 1991 Brown took the plunge and developed her ten debut lipsticks, in natural, neutral colours and Bobbi Brown cosmetics was born. 

Bobbi brown
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Laura Mercier

Born in the South of France, Laura Mercier left art school to try her hand at makeup, studying at the prestigious Carita beauty school. Moving from Paris to New York in 1985, as part of the team launching American Elle, Mercier quickly built a reputation for creating the ‘flawless face’. With celebrity fans such as Madonna, Mercier’s makeup line was turned down twice before her lucky break in 1985. True to her word, the first product she released was called camouflage – a concealer that hides all flaws.  

Laura Mercier
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Frank Toskan

Although his name might not be as well known as the others, his products are respected as some of the best in the beauty industry. Makeup artist and photographer Frank Toskan teamed up with salon owner Frank Angelo, after becoming frustrated with the lack of colours that would translate well on camera. They aimed to develop a studio line for industry professionals and cooked up their products in their kitchen. In 1984, M.A.C cosmetics was born. Launched on a counter in a department store in Toronto, they changed the game by employing only professional makeup artists. Who would have thought eleven years later Estée Lauder Cosmetics would purchase a percentage of the company, before buying the remaining shares in 1998. 

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Do you have what it takes to turn your dream products into a worldwide brand? Why not take a beauty course and learn the industry secrets from an experienced expert? Who knows where you might end up. 

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