Beauty Boss: How Trish McEvoy Built a Business by Chasing “Beauty Endorphins”
Trish McEvoy is one of just a handful of beauty brands that transcend generations. The same can be said of Trish McEvoy the woman—she’s been in the biz for more than four decades, but the feel-good philosophy on which she built her line of uncomplicated products is just as relevant today, if not more so. Here, in celebration of her new book, "The Makeup of a Confident Woman" ($27; amazon.com), McEvoy reflects on her highs, lows, and the power of “beauty endorphins.”
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Dublin, Ireland. But I spent my first 12 years in Germany. My grandmother owned a perfumery in Berlin, so I was around beauty at a very young age. And I always loved coloring—and what is makeup other than coloring your face? I really don't view it as painting a face, I view it more as coloring a face. In my first book, there's a picture of me when I was less than five years old, totally made-up.
How did you parlay that interest into a career?
I knew from a young age that I really wanted to emulate my grandmother. So when we moved to the States, my first my first official job was at Thalheimers department store in Richmond, Virginia. It was a very lovely store. I worked for Estée Lauder, behind the cosmetics counter.
How long were you there?
I was there for a year-ish and then I moved to New York. And in New York, I became an educator with Lauder. I was one of their representatives that did a lot of local television. So that taught me at a very young age, how to do makeup on live TV—that’s been a skill set that I've used for decades. After that, I moved into product development, before starting my own business at 25.
Wow! What made you take the leap?
Well, in any field if you're going to compete against big companies, you have to look for where the opportunity is. And what I did—as many makeup artists did at that time—was cut my own makeup brushes. I went to an art store, then altered them as I saw fit. People would ask me how they could my brushes. I first gave them away, but then I went to a paintbrush manufacturer and had them produce my designs. And that's how I started my business—fulfilling a need; women being able to apply their makeup effortlessly and quickly. Our makeup brushes are still one of the most important parts of our company today.
Between then and now, you built a booming line and established yourself as a beauty authority. How did you differentiate yourself?
I was the beauty spokesperson for Good Morning America for a while, and I was a regular on many of the morning shows. It gave me the platform to empower women. You know, to me, it's never been the celebrity piece of my job. It's always been teaching and speaking about the power of how your makeup, your hair—how knowing how to dress makes you feel different, and that it's so easy.
Just giving yourself the time that you deserve…
Exactly. That's why I called my book "The Makeup of a Confident Woman"—because it really is about her taking the time to not only put makeup on but recognize how it makes her feel. A lipstick or an eyeliner may be able to make you feel more empowered, but the makeup of who you are is really giving yourself the time to cascade into this very special zone. The beauty endorphins kick in—I mean, we’ve all been there.
The beauty endorphins, they make a difference. When you have the time to do your hair properly—but not when you have the time, but when you make the time. Because we all have 24 hours. What you do with it, that's the question. And what I like to speak about is the beauty cascade.
How do you describe that?
It doesn't take much time, but you have to give yourself that. If you're a student and you got a lot of studies, give yourself that. If you're a young person that's starting their first job, give yourself that. If you're a young mother, give yourself that. If you're a more mature woman, the kids are out of the house, give yourself that. People don't give themselves something as simple as five or ten minutes. Close the door, put a song on that you like, and give it to yourself, right?
That said, what do you say to someone intimidated by makeup because of the looks we see on YouTube and Instagram?
If you look at a YouTube video, or you look at Instagram, it all looks beautiful. We all love the transformation. But are we really going to do it? It's like looking at a cooking channel. I love looking at cooking channels! I love it; it's one of my favorite things. But you would not want me to cook for you, you wouldn't. It’s just entertainment. And I’m not about entertainment, I’m really about ‘edutainment.' My book is like a reference guide— if you're in a hurry, you want to look your best, pick up my book. If you want the long version, go on YouTube.
What’s been your proudest moment so far?
I think my proudest moment in my career would be at 25 starting my business. To have the guts, will, and determination to try it. Because if I can say something to all women, is go for it. I had a great support system. I always surrounded myself with supportive friends, I didn't have frenemies. They—and my boyfriend, who then became my husband—just said go for it! You’re 25—what's the worst that could happen?