Beauty Boss: Meet the Woman Behind Chantecaille's Multi-Million Dollar Empire
Welcome to Beauty Boss, a reoccurring series in which we spotlight the power players driving the beauty world forward. Consider this your chance to steal their get-ahead secrets, and grow from the real-life lessons they’ve learned on the job.
French born Sylvie Chantecaille has one of the most recognized last names in the beauty biz. Why? She's the founder of Chantecaille, a makeup, cosmetic and skin carel line made from pure botanicals, flowers, essential oils, and vitamins (yes, all the good stuff). We chatted with the beauty about how she built this incredible line from the ground up.
What is your background?
I studied history of art and theater in Paris, where I was raised. It was really the perfect preparation for my career. When I moved to New York City, I created my first cosmetic company with my friend Diane von Furstenberg (the cult perfume Tatiana was part of that line).
In 1979 I was asked by the Lauder family to create a new beauty company, which became Prescriptives. With this new approach to cosmetics, I led some of the most innovative developments in the beauty industry, including offering custom blend shade-matching to help women identify their perfect foundation shade, an unprecedented concept at that time. We also launched Calyx, a best-selling fragrance which is still loved today.
How did you fall into beauty?
By accident! I was “supposed” to be an art dealer, but I loved makeup and I had a lot of friends who loved it, too. The success I saw with the fragrance I created with Diane was the start of it, and then beauty opportunities just kept coming.
How did you come up with the concept for Chantecaille after launching Prescriptives?
I launched Chantecaille in 1997, driven by a desire to create a company that reflected my own spiritual and holistic passion. I wanted to be the first skincare company based on flowers--totally pure and incorporating luxurious quality, scientifically-forward technology and botanical ingredients. Chantecaille first started as a niche French fragrance house with four original scents based on natural essential oils. Within a year and a half, I realized that my passion for high quality skincare, natural products, Chinese medicine, and aromatherapy were begging to be expanded into a line of beauty. This is really how it all began.
What makes it unique?
Chantecaille’s most important distinction is our commitment to quality and purity in our products. We source the most effective botanical ingredients and we work with experts around the world, with different scientists and technical labs chosen for their strengths in particular aspects in our business. For example, we do most of our foundations in Japan, develop our skincare in Switzerland, and produce all of our fragrances in France.
We are also a company that puts a commitment to philanthropy and conservation at the forefront. Since 2006 Chantecaille has launched 22 limited edition "cause-metics" collections to benefit conservation efforts to protect the ocean, the environment, and endangered animal and plant species. Each season we donate a percentage of proceeds from sales of these palettes directly to charitable organizations that support these causes. We are supporting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Elephants and Bees foundation with the release of our spring 2017 Mermaid Matte Eye Trio.
What’s the best compliment you ever received?
Women saying things like, “where have you been all my life? Now that I have your products, I’ll never change!” Another beautiful client told me that she felt safe using our products during chemotherapy treatments and that our Gold Cream got her skin through it.
What was your “aha moment” when you realized Chantecaille had really become a success?
When Angelina Jolie applied our Brilliant Gloss on the air at the Golden Globes—that was huge. She also chose to use all of our products a few years ago on the cover of Vanity Fair, and then continued to order tons of colors for the movie she was shooting in Venice. I was also incredibly proud this year to learn that Chantecaille is the number two brand at Bergdorf Goodman, a trendsetting beauty mecca for women in New York and all around the world.
What makeup products do you never leave home without?
I never leave home without Future Skin In Nude in winter and Just Skin in Tan in the summer. Future Skin is a gel-based formula that is water packed with soothing ingredients like chamomile and aloe vera. It gives a gorgeous dewy finish rather than flat and matte, and the coverage is buildable.
I can’t live without our Pure Rosewater – I won’t fly without the travel size bottle. It’s the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I treat my face with at bedtime. Ours is the only rosewater that is made from 100% of the very rare Rose de Mai— the extract from 1,000 petals is in every bottle.
What one product from the line is your absolute favorite right now?
I am obsessed with our Faux Cils Longest Lash Mascara. It actually increases lash length in two weeks by 25 percent!
What’s one mistake most women make when it comes to skincare or makeup that they could easily fix?
Women often tend to use the wrong foundation for their skin type or tone. Too much of the wrong formula can make skin look dry – which can age them. Women with oily skin are often afraid of using moisturizers, when actually oils and creams are great for regulating and protecting oil-prone skin. Serums are great for this type of skin, and our Bio Lifting Oil Free Fluid is mattifying, which is perfect for them. Most importantly, after the age of 35 everyone should be using anti-aging skincare to repair and prevent future damage to their skin.
Who do you think has the most beautiful skin in Hollywood?
I think a lot of women have beautiful skin. My personal favorites are Emma Roberts, she is positively luminous. The gorgeous Emma Stone has stunning pale skin, and Cate Blanchett is a timeless beauty with a radiant complexion.