Julie Macklowe’s Big Makeover

Giorgio Niro

Vbeauté’s founder and CEO reveals what makes her brand, now one year old, unlike any other.

Q: The line really took off in your first year.

A: It sells because it’s a simple three-step system. It’s easy. It doesn’t require a headache to use...and because I’m really picky. I keep it tight and curated. I just felt like everything was getting so complicated. As my grandfather used to say, “KISS—Keep It Simple Stupid.”

Q: Did it exceed your expectations?

A: It’s been exciting, but I’m going to be very frank, it’s been trial and error, like any start-up. When I started, I thought my customers were 22 to 30. Turns out, my core is 38 to 65. I’m 35, so it makes sense. You start buying an anti-aging product at my age.

Q: You’re also reasonably priced.

A: Right, I created the line because I was really sick of getting ripped off. I was spending thousands of dollars on products that just didn’t work. I come from a background of research in stocks. So I started researching this like a stock, what goes into a product.

Q: Do you go to the lab?

A: All the time! I sat with them while they were mixing the colors for the lip glosses...they’re sick of me there!

Q: But you don’t have a chemistry background, so what are you looking for?

A: For texture. I tried all the lip glosses on my own face; I went through almost 60 iterations because I’m so sensitive and I kept breaking out.

Q: Is that why you made the line fragrance- and paraben-free?

A: And gluten- and nut-free. I went around to my friends and asked, “What don’t you want in your products?” Everyone said no nuts, because all the kids these days have nut allergies.

Q: Sounds like your focus groups are your friends?

A: They are, and they’re picky friends. I get a lot of feedback!

Q: Are they honest with you?

A: Yeah, because they know I can take it. I don’t need you to tell me you like it if you don’t; I’m not a sugar-coated sort of gal. [Laughs] I did run a hedge fund, you know, for Steve Cohen. There was not a lot of sugar-coating in my life before this. I can take it with the best of them.

Q: Can the products be used by men as well?

A: My husband (real estate mogul Billy Macklowe) tends to steal my cleanser, eye cream and exfoliator. Any man can cleanse with Rub Off ($25), our facial exfoliator, which helps with in-grown hairs. And Evidence Eraser ($25), our foaming cleanser, lathers like crazy, so it can be used as a shave cream. The packaging is also very unisex; I wanted something gender neutral. And purple is my five-year-old daughter’s favorite color.

Q: Your It Kit ($100) with five travel-sized essentials is great, but why the gunmetal case and not a clear plastic one to get through security easily?

A: People don’t realize it’s actually lightweight metalized plastic that scans right through. It’s funny, customers were taking the products out and putting them in Ziploc bags. You don’t have to; you just put the case in your bag and go. I created it because I once got my toiletries taken away. My husband stuck something in my bag and I had to buy all new products when we got to Paris. It cost me a fortune! And I broke out in hives because they were heavily perfumed!

Q: What are you working on next?

A: Two concealers, because I personally use concealer when I go out, so I’m doing high and low versions to blend together. I put on mascara, a little eye shadow, some lip gloss and I’m done. I don’t have time to put on foundation, and if you have good skincare, you’ll find in a couple of months, you don’t need it.

Q: How do you not wear foundation? Your skin looks so smooth.

A: Use Vbeauté for two months and it will make your pores smaller...combined maybe with a laser treatment or two. [Laughs] Look, there is no be-all and end-all, but we do hear so often from customers that say, “My skin tone and complexion have changed!” For me, nothing’s better.

To learn more about the Vbeauté system, go to vbeaute.com.