The supermodels-turned-beauty moguls get candid about building their businesses.
Having successful careers in front of the camera wasn’t enough for these supermodels, so they capitalized on their fashionable wisdom by starting their own brands. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, founder and editor in chief of the beauty website Rose Inc., talks with Cindy Crawford, co-creator of the skin-care line Meaningful Beauty, about blazing the trail...
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: The first time I saw you was at Nobu in Malibu. I’d gone in a T-shirt and sweatpants. Then you walked in, one of my all-time icons, so elegant in great jeans and a beautiful blouse, with classic hair and makeup. Heads turned, and I thought, “That is a supermodel.” Then I thought, “I can never again go to a restaurant in sweatpants” — and I never have. [laughs]
Cindy Crawford: I saw you in Heathrow Airport, and I thought I’d discovered the next great model. [Fashion photographer] Mario Testino was on our flight; when he greeted you I thought, “I guess I’m not the only person to realize this woman is gorgeous.”
RHW: Thank you. I’ve had 16 years in the hair and makeup chair! And I’ve learned so much from the artists [I’ve worked with]. Over the years I would get asked about my beauty and wellness regimen, and when I shared information on social media, I saw the response it was getting. I wanted to take what I was doing and build the website along with an engaged community of avid beauty lovers. It was about democratizing beauty and sharing my access, which is so similar to your point of view [with Meaningful Beauty].
CC: I’ve always loved modeling, but when I was 35, I had been with Revlon for 17 years. My contract was up for renewal, and I thought, “Maybe this is the time to do my own thing.” I’d been working with [cosmetic doctor] Jean-Louis Sebagh, who taught me a lot about taking care of my skin. If I did something with him, it would be a way to share the access I’d had. Especially at 35, you start realizing, “I’m not going to be able to avoid this aging thing.” So Meaningful Beauty was born out of that relationship.
RHW: I’m an ambitious person, and I love to learn, so for me it was the natural next step to do my own thing. Now I call the shots, which is the best but also a lot of work. When something is successful, that’s on me; and when something fails, that also comes down to me. [laughs] Being the founder of a company is 24/7, and you get out what you put in.
CC: I totally agree. I started in 2001, and it’s like going to business school. We have board meetings four times a year with all the financial guys. I had a chemical-engineering scholarship and studied math but never business math. It took me a while to find my voice in those meetings, but, eventually, I realized that I am the world expert on Cindy Crawford. No one knows more about my brand than I do, and Meaningful Beauty is a part of that. It was empowering, for me as a woman, to find my voice at a boardroom table.
RHW: That’s definitely something I’m in the process of [figuring out]. Right now it’s about hiring a great team.
CC: You have to be a mentor for them, then let them fly and not micromanage. For example, I hate just saying no — I don’t think that’s helpful. I explain why it’s a no. Then, hopefully, I’ll see what I explained reflected in the next thing that comes to me.
RHW: You can probably speak more to this, but isn’t it most rewarding to see somebody wearing a product you’ve designed or promoting something you’ve endorsed? I’ve had a lingerie and beauty brand in the U.K. [Rosie for Autograph at Marks & Spencer] for the past seven years, and when I’m in London, without fail, a woman on the street will flash me her bra.
CC: It’s true. One of my most memorable Meaningful Beauties — that’s what I call people who use my products — was a woman working at TSA at the airport. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, and she was like, “Look at my skin! Do you know how old I am?” It makes you feel so good. Only when you take the time to reflect back do you think, “You know what? We started this from nothing. That’s pretty cool.”
RHW: Yeah, as a working mum, having many plates spinning at once … there are days that can be really challenging. Then there are days when you truly feel like a badass.
CC: The real badass thing, Rosie, is getting up the next morning after you’ve had that bad day. I think that’s when all women are badasses.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O
$10/250 ml; dermstore.com
Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation
Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer Hydrate
Meaningful Beauty Revive & Brighten Eye Masque
$52/30 pairs; ulta.com
For more stories like this, pick up the August issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download July 19.