Bare Escentuals CEO Leslie Blodgett on redefining beauty

(Joseph Schell/Special to The Examiner)

As executive chairwoman and former CEO of mineral makeup company Bare Escentuals, the 49-year-old is on a larger mission than producing makeup. With about 200 boutiques worldwide and launching the new solid eye shadow product READY, Blodgett is trying to change lives.


You say you are a rule breaker and think outside of the box. How has that helped you become a titan in the makeup industry?

When people look at us, they say we break the rules. But when we were starting out, and even today, that’s just our philosophy. It’s just how we do business. And now, going into our “Be a Force of Beauty” campaign and hiring models based on interview questions versus looking at them, it’s not that we’re breaking the rules — we just felt that we needed people to represent our company who were more than just a pretty face.

You are constantly receiving suggestions and fan letters, and you reply personally to each one. How do you find the time do this?

First of all, you prioritize what you want to do and what needs to be done in your life. Everyone has time if you make time. For me, being in touch with the heart and soul of this company means being out in the field and conversing every day. The only way we can know what’s right for women in general is to know what they’re thinking. So I find the time and I do it. That becomes part of our mission. It’s not about numbers; it’s about meeting these people.

What’s the most touching fan letter you ever received?

This one I just got just a couple of weeks ago. It’s so great because it’s a woman who’s 19 who is a student at LSU. She said, “I want to personally thank you for changing my life.” She and her twin sister were born with a rare skin condition. So she can now take pictures, walk into class and meet new people with more confidence because of our product. When you know that you are making that impact on a teenager … I’m getting chills just thinking about this.

Can you tell us a little bit about your history and your path to running Bare Escentuals?

It’s the only industry that I’ve ever been in. It was something that I’ve always been passionate about since I was a little girl. I never thought I would actually be CEO. This industry was natural for me. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. He offered me the opportunity to work day and night. I had a mom who always pushed me. She was a single mom … and she always had my back, like we do for our customers.

In addition to being Bare Escentuals’ leader, you are also a family woman. Any tips on how to balance work and family life?

My son is away for school now. But there has always been guilt for me. It was never 100 percent easy for me; I missed a lot of stuff from his childhood. But my son tells me now to just move on. “Mom, you’ve been complaining about this for years. I’m sick of you telling me how guilty you are. … I’m fine.” But I think there was a period where I made sure I was home for breakfast every day. I might not be home for dinner, but every morning we would have breakfast.

What is your new PR campaign about?

It’s all about being a force of beauty, and what we love about that is that it isn’t just about how you look. We sell beauty products, but what we’re trying to say is that “Pretty is, but beauty does.” Anyone can be pretty, but not everyone can be beautiful. To be beautiful, you have to take action, be a good person and make change in life

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