Interview with JANE IREDALE Founder of jane iredale: the skincare makeup
September 13th, 2021
At Nino Beauty, we care about skincare. Our Japanese skincare products are made from natural ingredients that nourish and rehydrate the skin, like LOQZIN Z BIOME GEL and EDOBIO’s Saketernal skincare line. We don’t carry makeup, but we know that the right makeup can be equally healthy for the skin.
That’s why I brought jane iredale cosmetics to Japan in 2003 and am the proud, exclusive Japanese distributor for her skincare makeup line. Over twenty-five years ago, Jane Iredale asked the question, “Why can’t makeup be good for the skin?” And that was the start of jane iredale’s brilliant line of makeup.
The other day, I hosted a live webinar with Jane for a Japanese audience, and I thought our Nino Beauty clientele would be interested in hearing her story. I think we could all use some inspiration and guidance from a woman who literally followed her dream and built a cosmetics empire.
Rikki Ninomiya, CEO of Nino Beauty
Jane Iredale: I grew up in the north part of London. I had no real ambitions to leave the country except I realized that, after I left school, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for women at that time. I had met and made friends with some Americans who encouraged me to come and visit them. I arrived in New York with very little in my pocket, so I had to get a job.
My first job was in advertising. Then, out of the blue, as the way life goes, I got offered a job as a casting director finding actors and models for television commercials. This turned out to be a big opportunity because it led to my opening my own production company making films for TV and working in the theatre – all along the way working with actors and models, many who are super stars today.
These actors and models all had one thing in common. They had to keep their skin healthy. This was really difficult for some of them, especially if they had sensitive skin, or if they had to put on makeup in the morning on a film day and then for the stage again at night. Maintaining healthy skin was a real problem. I would watch actors coming off the set and saying to the makeup artist, “Get this makeup off me.”
That gave me the idea “Why does makeup have to be damaging for the skin? Why can’t it be good for the skin and be an extension of skin care?”
That’s how it all started.
Rikki Ninomiya: What an amazing career working with so many famous people and projects. Can you tell us about it?
Jane: I started out in television commercials, working for J. Walter Thompson, the largest advertising agency at the time. Then I worked in film. I did two films with Steven Spielberg and with Frances Ford Coppola. I worked with many actors, actresses, like Meryl Streep, and models, some unknown at the time and now very famous, and others famous at the time and not so famous now. The entertainment world is a very fluid business and can be quite stressful and difficult to work in, unlike the world I’m in now which is about nurturing women and really dominated by women in a happier environment.
Rikki: Some people would die to make their whole career in that glamorous industry, but it’s not worth the stress if you’re not really into it.
Jane: I feel when I talk to young women, I try to impress on them to find their passion because they have to work twice as hard to be successful, so they have to really love what they’re doing.
Rikki: You once told me that working with and developing makeup came to you in a dream.
Jane: I knew I had to make a change, but I didn’t know what to change to. I went to bed one night and said to myself over and over again, “What is wanted and needed? What is wanted and needed?” It became sort of a mantra. I woke up at 3 in the morning with the answer. ‘What about creating make up that’s good for the skin?’ That’s absolutely what happened.
Rikki: It’s amazing that we get these inspirations and that for you it was that specific.
Jane: Then I had to wrestle with myself whether I really wanted to work that hard. I knew what it was like to start a company and try to make it successful. I’d done it once before, and I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through it again.
Rikki: But it was a great idea!
Jane: Ideas are easy, Rikki. Implementing the ideas is not so easy. It requires hard work, dedication, working seven days a week and never giving up. It means having really bad days and getting through them and trying to solve problems and making sure you have the right people around you.
Rikki: I really understand what you are talking about.
Jane: I know you do.
Rikki: So, after this revelation at 3 am what did you do? How long did it take to implement your idea? What was next?
Jane: Actually, when I had the idea, I was in England. I asked Bob, my now husband, “Do you think I’m crazy for thinking about this? I expected him to say, “Yes, stick with what you’re doing.” But, instead, he said, “No, I think you should try it.”
Rikki: Yeah, Bob!
Jane: I knew nothing about cosmetics. I knew it practically speaking, because I wore it, and because I worked with a lot of makeup artists, models, actresses, and because I worked in a lot of makeup rooms. But, I didn’t know about the chemistry and that was the challenge.
I had to find people who understood what my vision was and that was a challenge.
I was lucky enough to find a woman chemist, who I still work with today, and together we developed the first product.
Rikki: That was Amazing Base. How did you come up with Amazing Base?
Jane: I wanted to develop a foundation that was good for the skin and that looked beautiful, of course. Nothing is more important than how it looks, but I also wanted it to feel comfortable on. I wanted it to be able to let the skin breathe and function normally and protect the skin. I wanted people with sensitive skin to be able to wear it.
We took traditional makeup and took out all the ingredients that we thought were a problem or didn’t have a function. We ended up with minerals, which were the pigment of the powders — the basic pigments. We were left with a very simple formula with 4 minerals. We added antioxidants to help the health of the skin. We found that the formula not only did everything I wanted it to do, but also provided very good sun protection.
The first people to understand the benefits were the doctors — the dermatologists and plastic surgeons. It was the credibility they gave to Amazing Base that encouraged their patients to wear it. Word began to spread, and that’s how the line grew.
Rikki: From one Amazing Base foundation to a full line of products. Amazing! How did it happen?
Jane: The line has always been inspired by women. We started with Amazing Base. Women would say to their dermatologists, “Does she have a lipstick? Does she have an eye pencil? Does she have a mascara?” The doctors would say to me, “My patients are asking for this and that . . . can you do it?” We had to find a way to do it, and I was learning as we were going along.
Rikki: Before jane iredale, I thought makeup was just to make you look pretty, but since learning about and working with jane iredale products, I realized that makeup is much more — that each of the products has a special purpose.
Jane: I had a lot more than makeup on my mind. I wanted to make sure that it was obviously beneficial to the skin, that it didn’t harm animals in any way, and that it didn’t harm the environment in any way. I wanted to make sure it also contributed to well-being because I think it’s important to understand that makeup is not trivial. It isn’t about vanity. Makeup is about instilling, or helping to instill, confidence in the wearer. When we feel confident in ourselves and in how we look, we do everything better. Everyone around us benefits as our confidence increases, and makeup is a part of that.
There have been studies, including some from Japan, that show that the better we feel about how we look, the stronger our immune system is. It is possible to measure a boost in the immune system when we feel that we are presenting our best face to the world.
Doctors have told me this. One doctor, a breast cancer surgeon said that when he does his rounds in the morning, he’s looking for that sign that a woman has moved into healing. He told me that sign is often when she puts on her lipstick.
Rikki: Jane, you not only empower women with makeup that makes them look their best, but you have also empowered so many women by giving them opportunities to work for you. It’s given me so much more confidence. It’s changed my life.
Jane: I don’t think that people are working for me, but with me. It’s us working together as a team. I don’t want to get too philosophical about this, but it’s much harder for women in the business world. In almost every area we need to form a sisterhood to support each other and work together and encourage each other to be the best we can possibly be.
Rikki: Giving women confidence by making them feel more beautiful about themselves is a wonderful experience. Do you have any parting words of wisdom?
Jane: There are lots of things I could say, but the number one thing is to find your dream and work towards it. Also, make sure you have people in your life who support you and encourage you to be the best you can be. Don’t allow people in your life who take your energy. You want givers in your life, not takers. That’s so important.
Rikki: Jane, thank you for this time with you.