Jennifer Walsh’s resume reads like something that’s almost too good to be true: makeup artist, television personality, beauty entrepreneur, consultant, philanthropist and more. How can one person possibly handle all of these responsibilities? As you read our interview with the The Beauty Bar and Pride & Glory founder you’ll see that she inherently has this can-do personality. She’s a true beauty pioneer (credited with creating the first multi-channel beauty brand, that was sold in retail stores, online and on television) who won’t settle for anything less than making a difference. Jennifer says, “unless it’s a completely new concept in beauty, I wouldn’t be creating it.” For more from this inspirational beauty persona, read on…
Did you always have a strong interest in beauty?
Actually, I was considered a tomboy growing up. I wanted to be like my Dad, an FBI agent, even though my mom was the makeup artist. I didn’t get really interested in makeup until college and that’s when it all began.
How did you go about turning your passion into your profession?
I had a full time job (not in beauty, in the mid 90’s) and began to “work for free” every chance I got on the side to learn the business of makeup artistry. I would help out on TV and movie productions just so I could learn the craft hands on. After I “learned my craft” I became a makeup artist for celebs, athletes and singers. From there, I was asked to go on TV to talk about makeup trends in February 1998 and I have been on TV every single month since that date (except for 2 months). At that time there was no one on TV talking about new niche brands like Bobbi Brown, Fresh, Stila, Kiehl’s. People would call my office frustrated that I was showcasing brands that people couldn’t buy since stores didn’t carry them yet and websites were not yet selling products. THIS was my “AHA!” moment to create a new concept in beauty, to open a store that could sell these unknown unique brands and this was the birth of The Beauty Bar. I had an amazing platform (weekly TV) to showcase brands so I called all of the companies that I already had relationships with like Philosophy, Kiehl’s, etc. and told them I was going to open a store to sell their products. A year later we had an online store. The Beauty Bar became the very first omni-channel beauty brand in the US with brick and mortar, a website, and a weekly TV segment. This was before Sephora/Ulta. It was also before Saks, Neimans and Bloomingdale’s were selling these brands on shelf or online. I sold The Beauty Bar in 2010, and then I was called overseas to work for a beauty brand out of Amsterdam to help them create their US infrastructure.
Tell us about your new exciting venture, Pride & Glory.
Pride & Glory took a year and a half to create and build out the brand DNA. I knew that I wanted to create something that at its core was about giving back and how could I do that in the beauty space. Memories of my old customers from a decade ago came back to me ~ they would come into my stores looking for beauty products/gifts that had college logos on them and at that time I had to tell them that nothing like that existed in the beauty space. I wanted to tap into a market that had the greatest propensity/voice to give back, and that would be the collegiate market. There are so many great colleges and incredibly active students, alumni and fans of those schools that want to give and help others, so with that Pride & Glory, the first ever cohesive collegiate beauty brand was born. (Actually the concept came from what I experienced in helping others after Hurricane Sandy – which can be seen on our brand video.)
Did you know from the start of this endeavor that you wanted the brand to give back? (2% of the profits from each sale go back to the charity of that school.)
Yes, the entire concept of the brand is based on giving back. I have been asked for over a decade why I didn’t create my own line and I always said that unless it was a completely new concept in beauty, I wouldn’t be creating it. Fast forward to now and here I am with the new category in beauty, creating the first cohesive collegiate beauty brand.
How do you customize your product for each school?
Every school truly has its own vibe: its colors, sayings, songs, mascots, etc. Many sports/college logo’ed products just stick a logo on a item and sell it. I knew that since this concept was unique, the packaging had to be specifically made/created for each and every university. I have an incredible creative team, so many many months were spent making the design capture the look and feel of each school.
Do you see yourself expanding the brand into color cosmetics?
Yes, we have a pretty expansive roll-out plan with many more products and schools over the next 5-10 years. Just hold on to your hats to see everything! We are so excited and we will have Pride & Glory specific products (not with college logos) available later this fall. We have also been in talks with some fashion and sport brands to do some really exciting collaborations and partnerships by spring 2015.
How has your beauty routine changed since college?
It has totally changed. The product selections have changed and so have my needs/wants for skincare and cosmetics. I am using a lot more skincare items than I did when I was in college. We didn’t have serums and many of the preventative items that are now available. I’m making up for lost time 😉
You showcased some of today’s biggest brands – like Stila, Kiehl’s and Bobbi Brown – before they were household names. What new brands are you intrigued by right now?
Actually there are some brands that are just infusing incredible ingredients that I’m really drawn to. I LOVE everything that Nest is doing in the fragrance and home fragrance category. I am also addicted to Natura Bisse skincare. I love so many of the new items from L’Oreal in their BLUR collection from foundations to blush. I keep adding to my Caudalie collection as well, especially all of their body products.
If we were to take a look into your makeup bag right now, what would we find?
Any particular trends you’re loving at the moment?
I love my cosmetics to also be double/triple duty. I love a great multi-tasking products that works well and looks great on the skin.
What advice could you give to young girls who want to make their mark in the beauty world?
I always tell everyone, stop trying to be the next whomever and start being you! I meet with many young women who always tell me that they want to be just like (insert anyone famous for doing anything) and it shakes me. If you want to be them, you’ll never have the opportunity to be you! The only way to stand out in business is to always continue to learn and bring something unique to the table. Don’t try and be an expert in everything. Learn what you love and become the expert in your field of expertise and DON’T claim to be an expert until you truly work in the field and can become an educator in that arena.
Keep an eye on the blog for Jennifer’s unforgettable Beauty Adventure!