Meet the co-founder of cool girl make-up brand Smith & Cult

Meet the co-founder of cool girl make-up brand Smith & Cult

Ultimate beauty junkie

Site: Lucie Clark

Image: Smith & Cult images: @smithandcult

Jeanne Chavez, co-founder of two seriously cool make-up brands – Hard Candy and Smith & Cult – is the original beauty junkie and here she talks all things make-up and why beauty is not about perfection

The day we meet at a café in Sydney Jeanne has just flown in from LA - where she's based - following a hectic few weeks of travel that included Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival (where she attended a very special event alongside Jane Fonda and Scooter Braun, the gent who discovered Justin Bieber) and then Florida directly after that. Despite all the travel, Jeanne looks fresh as a daisy with glowing, luminous jet-lag-defying skin - the sign of a beauty addict from way back.

Smith & Cult. Images @smithandcult

In fact, Jeanne has been using advanced skincare since she was a tween (she had her first skincare consultation at 11 years old at a Dr Erno Laszlo counter) and has been just as dedicated to make-up, saying, "I did everyone's make-up when I was really little.... In college, same thing. I was in a dorm. I was like, "Come to my dorm, I'm gonna get everyone ready." I just loved it. I'm still the girl if you're in a bathroom anywhere and someone needs a little help, I'll do some blush."

And like any true beauty lover, Jeanne was always hunting for the next lipgloss, lipstick or beauty product to add to her kit and when she couldn't find it she started her own brand, co-founding revolutionary indie nail polish brand Hard Candy with Dineh Mohajer in 1994.

In a classic founder story, Dineh was making nail lacquers in her dorm room at the University of Southern California and people were taking notice. A mutual friend introduced Dineh to Jeanne (who was working in the beauty industry in sales and marketing) and the result was Hard Candy.

Jeanne Chavez and Dineh Mohajer. Image: Getty

Hard Candy became a massive success virtually overnight with LVMH offering to buy the indie make-up brand after just a few years (LVMH bought Hard Candy in 1999). Dineh says the buy-out was, "Good and bad, because LVMH acquiring a small brand like that is huge, and it gave us a platform to move on and do other things. The bad thing is, we regretted it the moment it happened because... it was too soon. It was only three years. From that point on, we dreamed of what that next brand would be."

Which turned out to be edgy cosmetics brand Smith & Cult. Jeanne says, "Smith & Cult is that Hard Candy girl and what she would be seeking out today. It's something that is not traditional. And that was a whole idea with Hard Candy, because of our little rings on the cap, and the little heart, people said, "Oh my God this is a brand that's so unique, I've never seen anything like it. I can pull off the rings, I can wear the rings." We wanted Smith & Cult to be that same girl... 20 years later."

Smith & Cult nail lacquer 1972

The Smith & Cult packaging is hip and unique and celebrates beauty that isn't perfect, Jeanne says, "What Dineh is so genius with is, even though the packaging is beautiful... she's like, "It's too perfect. I want it to be beat up a little bit." What we want to communicate is, beauty is not about perfection, and the beauty industry is not about achieving this perfect look. It's really the dings and dents in our lives that are so beautiful. So we have this little underlying theme with every single product. There's either a little ding or a dent."

Which is why Jeanne's number one beauty icon is Kate Moss, "She's that cool girl yet she's not overly perfect... I love that she's not tall and she did everything. She did runway, she did editorial, I mean she did it all."

As for the products themselves, they come in all the hues and textures any make-up lover could possibly dream of. Both Jeanne and Dineh work on the formulas which Jeanne says first and foremost, "have to perform." 

Their best sellers include a rose gold nail lacquer called 1972, a matte nude neutral lip stain with a touch of pink lip stain called Kissing Tiny Flowers that, "...goes well with all skin tones," and a lip lacquer called Flesh Riot - also a, "...nude neutral with a touch of pink."

Smith & Cult Flesh Riot lip lacquer

They've got 12 new shades coming out in Australia in 2019 (if you're in the US you can pick one up later this year) which are a, "...heavier pigment... but still with the benefits of moisture. They're called a lip butter." They're also launching a foundation range with a whopping 26 shades - one for every possible skin tone. I'm clearing room in my make-up kit now.

Smith & Cult is available in Australia from Sephora: 
Follow Smith & Cult on Instagram: @smithandcult

Meet the co-founder of cool girl make-up brand Smith & Cult (фото 1)

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