As Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Julie Bell is as the heart of product innovation at the fun-loving yet highly effective beauty favourite, Benefit Cosmetics.
Julie Bell, EVP Global Marketing for Benefit Cosmetics, chats to A&E about new launched and old school favourites
Having spent 20 years at the San Fransico born beauty brand, Julie Bell not only knows it inside out but understands who exactly the Benefit woman is – what she needs, what she wants and what she won’t settle for when it comes to her makeup routine.
But way before she was conceptualising groundbreaking products such as the industry-changing Benefit Brow Collection to innovative, high-performing mascaras and the iconic POREfessional primer, she had an intricate relationship with the world of beauty, as she sits down to tell us.
From exactly why the new Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer is set to become a brand icon to which products she can’t live without, Bell bares all about her beauty past, present and future with A&E.
A&E Interviews Julie Bell, EVP Global Marketing Benefit Cosmetics
You’ve worked with Benefit for almost 20 years – what is it about the brand that first enticed you?
When I think about what first inspired me about Benefit, I always go back to the roots of our co-founders, Jean and Jane Ford. When they founded Benefit over 40 years ago, they developed a rich DNA and I was fortunate enough to work side-by-side with them for 10 years. I try to take everything that I learned from Jean and Jane and live it every day at work!
And what is it about Benefit that you love/that’s led you to continue working there for nearly two decades?
What I love most about Benefit is that I get the opportunity to learn about our global customers and create products they will love. It’s fascinating because Benefit girls all over the world are really the same. It doesn’t matter what country they live in – they all share the same spirit, the same attitude toward beauty and are looking to solve the same problems. I love being part of a global brand.
Talk us through the new Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer – what makes it different from others out there?
A top customer complaint about other high-coverage concealers is that they are cakey, heavy and obvious. We tested Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer side-by-side against the competition and the results were amazing! Testers loved that it delivered instant full coverage and a natural look that is truly cakeless – meaning it feels lightweight yet won’t cake or crack on skin. Plus it’s waterproof and lasts 24 hours. The multitasking formula can be used for a targeted or full-face application. It helps hide it all, from dark undereye circles to blemishes and discolouration. It also blends easily so one layer is all you need.
How do you recommend people best work it into their makeup routines?
The beauty of Cakeless is that it’s extremely versatile and the multitasking formula blends seamlessly on skin, so it can be used before or after foundation. We encourage our customers to mix and match our complexion products and have fun with it! Here’s my go-to complexion routine to get you started. Begin by priming skin with The Porefessional to prep skin for foundation and minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines. Then, apply Hello Happy Flawless Brightening Foundation for a brighter, hydrated, flawless-looking complexion. Then, dab Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer on under eyes and imperfections for seamless, waterproof coverage that lasts all day and won’t cake. Complete your look with our bestselling rose-tinted lip and cheek stain, Benetint.
Can you tell us how more about the design of the packaging? How did the concept come about?
With each new Benefit product, we create the perfect storm of unique innovation that is expressed through creative names and packaging. That’s what sets Benefit apart from other brands! For our new Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer, we wanted to keep packaging consistent with the rest of the Boi-ing family, which are inspired by pencil erasers to “erase” all skin imperfections instantly! The vial shape lent itself perfectly to the look of a pencil, which ties to our collection, but also allows it to stand apart as a new product and concealer format. We also featured a “no caking” infographic on the front of the box so our customer knows right away that this concealer will give them coverage..without the CAKE!
How would you describe the Benefit ethos? What is it about the brand that you think women identify with?
At Benefit, we believe that laughter is the best cosmetic. We’re not only in the makeup business, we’re in the feelgood business. Because when we are laughing and having fun, that’s when we are at our most beautiful! This inspired us to create instant beauty solutions that are the perfect storm of innovation, storytelling, creative names and packaging that will put a smile on any woman’s face and make her feel her most beautiful.
How did your career in beauty begin?
I first became inspired by the beauty industry when I was helping a friend apply for a job and came across a role at Benefit. As I helped her prepare for her interview, I couldn’t stop thinking about the opportunity…how cool would it be to be in an industry that created products for women?! So we pulled a “bait and switch” and I went on the interview instead of my friend…and here I am, nearly 20 years later!
Do you remember when you fell in love with beauty?
I fell in love with the beauty industry when I started selling cosmetics behind the counter! I was terrified but it was an exhilarating experience. Back then there weren’t any YouTube tutorials to teach us about makeup application techniques and new looks. We had to really get creative to excited customers.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about the industry?
The biggest misconception about working in the beauty industry is that it’s easy! Of course, getting to experiment and play with makeup is so fun and gratifying. But in today’s world, there’s so much competition and new innovation out there that beauty professionals and customers often have information overload. Not only is it increasingly difficult to cut through the noise, but it’s also hard to keep customers excited while staying true to our brand values. But at Benefit, we are problem solvers – It’s in our DNA. We harness these challenges as motivation to continue innovating and doing what we do better and better.
How can cosmetics empower women?
Beauty comes from within. It doesn’t matter how much makeup you put on, if you’re not feeling good about yourself, that will show through. When you feel good about yourself, your true beauty shines. At Benefit, we exist to make our customers feel good! We believe that when you’re happy and confident, you feel beautiful and strong enough to take on the world!
What’s been your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement is when I began giving back to people with disabilities. This is a very personal mission and supporting this incredible community is extremely gratifying.
Who are some of your other female role models in the industry?
Benefit founders, Jean and Jane Ford, are my greatest role models in the industry. They developed a rich brand DNA at Benefit and I was fortunate enough to work side-by-side with them for 10 years. My other female role models outside of beauty include Madonna, Lady Gaga, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Michelle Obama.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My father was a great mentor of mine and always gave me great advice. From the moment I started working, he told me that as long as I believed in what I did and had true passion, that I could succeed at anything.
Do you have a motto in life?
My motto in life is what I like to call, “GSD”…Get Stuff Done!
What’s your favourite ever Benefit product?
My favourite Benefit product is Precisely, My Brow Pencil. It’s our bestselling product for a reason: because it works so well and doesn’t break! I also have to add our Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer because these days, I never leave home without it.
What are the top three products you recommend to every woman?
The three Benefit products that I would recommend to every woman are a brow product, a primer and a mascara. My go-to product for brows is our bestselling Precisely, My Brow Pencil. Then I would recommend The POREfessional, a smoothing face primer that minimizes the look of pores and fine lines. It’s my secret weapon! Finally, I would recommend any Benefit mascara to customers. Whether you need volume, length or curl, there is a Benefit mascara to complete your look. Of course, Boi-ing Cakeless Concealer is also something women should wear every day. It’s the new must-have for every beauty routine.
What’s been the best initiative you’ve ever worked on with the brand?
I’m most proud of our Benefit brow collection, which launched in 2016. It was a massive project that our Benefit teams worked on tirelessly! It’s been so exciting to see our collection continue to evolve, to keep making progress in innovation and to see the brow category grow around the world…because every girl needs a brow product!
See more at benefitcosmetics.com/ae.