Bee Shapiro is not your typical editor. Lawyer turned top beauty columnist; Shapiro is a perfect example of the modern day woman - mom and wife, hustling non-stop, whether it be a New York Times article, a piece for Vanity Fair, or in the lab constructing a unique scent with the chemists for Ellis Brooklyn. To say Shapiro's repertoire is anything but admirable would be an understatement.
Her arsenal of accomplishments don't just consist of her coveted beauty column on the Styles section of the New York Times profiling the hottest products and people in the industry. Always tackling a new project, Shapiro just launched her new book Skin Deep, featuring her noteworthy columns and new exclusive interviews with the innovators in the beauty world. As a chunk of Bee's job is testing and trying the latest and greatest luxury products, Bee felt a sense of emptiness in the fragrance aspect of the beauty product realm and created Ellis Brooklyn to fill that void.
We turn the tables, and Bee is the one who is now the interviewee. Read along to find out Bee's inspiration for her brand, the story behind its exponential growth, and much more in our Q & A!
1. What is the story behind the name "Ellis Brooklyn"?
"I was pregnant with my first daughter Ellis when I came up with the idea for the line and we live in Brooklyn. I was keeping it simple!"
2. How has having your own beauty column for the New York Times inspire you to create your own brand?
"Being a beauty editor, you're constantly swabbing, testing, trying, experimenting. You get to know products and ingredient lists really well. I think there's a point were you've seen it all in a sense, but then you get the light bulb moment to make something specific and unique and special. That's how Ellis Brooklyn came about. There was this amazing green or conscious beauty movement happening in skincare and makeup, but nada in fragrance."
3. I remember you telling me that creating a brand is a very personal thing, can you elaborate on that?
"When you put it out there, it's truly your baby. You've put your heart, soul and creative energy into each product. It's a culmination of months-long, sometimes years-long creative journey, so it becomes very personal in a magical sort of way."
4. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about having your own brand?
"Favorite thing is all the amazing people I get to collaborate with from my perfumer to package designer to chemist. The downside is all the no-fun homework stuff like making sure I get all my invoices and POs to my bookkeeper-- bleh."
5. What is the afflatus behind each fragrance scent?
"Because I wanted to keep it very personal, each scent is about taking an ingredient and really doing it in a way that hasn't been addressed well before. For example, SCI FI, our latest scent is taking vanilla, which is very well known, and keeping all its warm beauty but doing it in an elegant, almost clean way as opposed to your typical gourmand, cupcake-y vanillas of old."
6. If you had to describe your own personal scent, what would your top three adjectives be?
"I specifically created Ellis Brooklyn Myth for myself. To me, it's pretty yet urbane, modern yet warm."
7. What do you look for in a fragrance, and how have you applied that to each scent you have produced?
"I think finding the right fragrance is like dating. When you know, you know. It's the pathway there, which can be full of doubts and outside influences and opinions that is tough to navigate through. For me, because I've smelled SO many fragrances at this point, my starting off point is: does it smell good. I think so many brands I've reviewed miss this point. I want people to wear my scents. I want the fragrances to be part of their lives— to create memories where the scents play a role. Then, my next thought is: have I smelled this before? Is this unique? Is this special enough to warrant yet another fragrance out there in the marketplace? I am also a stickler for making sure the fragrances smells incredible from start to finish."
8. Can we expect any other beauty products, such as skincare and makeup, from Ellis Brooklyn in the future?
Right now, I think there are enough amazing skincare options out there right now. I feel like I could have a few things to say about natural or green makeup but it's not really something I'm planning on. I'm truly focused on fragrance.
9. How does beauty resonate with you in terms of current-politics and issues in the world? Is it an outlet of expression, a symbol for feminism, a distraction from the real world, or all of the above?
"For me, it's all of the above. Scent, above all else, says something about you in a very subtle yet primal way. When you breathe in a scent, it goes right to your frontal lobe where your instincts are. You're going to be remembered that way. You're going to be identified by a scent. That's very powerful and exciting from an expression point of view. Because of that scent can be playful and transformative too."
10. What does being a powerful creative woman in the beauty industry mean to you?
"One of the beautiful things I've discovered since starting my life is how there are these wonderful female entrepreneurs out there who have been incredibly generous. I've gotten advice from Bobbi Brown. Laura Slatkin, founder of Nest, introduced me to Sephora. Mona Kattan, the business brains behind HudaBeauty, has shared with me countless resources and info. Jen Atkin of Ouai has connected me with her Middle East contacts when I was doing research on the region. The list of amazing women to thank goes on! That to me, is the definition of being a power woman: being secure enough about your success that you're down for lifting other women up."
11. If you had to name someone(s) as your muse for your fragrance line, who would it be and why?
"I don't have a muse. I actually would like to get away from the idea of a muse for fragrance. I feel like I see a lot of muses being created that are not at all like what real, modern women or men are like. I want each scent to stand on its own."
12. Where do you see yourself, and Ellis Brooklyn in 5 years from now?