The Business of Beauty panel discussion
Wed., April 10, 11:30 a.m.
SCAD Museum of Art Theater, 601 Turner Blvd.
Free and open to the public
SCADstyle is a favorite event every year. The university brings big names in design to its Savannah, Atlanta and Hong Kong campuses April 9-11.
“Famed art critic John Ruskin once wrote, ‘Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.’ We celebrate this triple convergence on a grand scale at SCADstyle 2019,” said SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace in a statement.
“This year’s array of tastemakers includes designers of fashion, jewelry, user experience, furniture, interiors, and even transportation. SCADstyle’s revolutionary interplay of all these disciplines simply does not happen anywhere else in the world!”
Savannah’s festivities this year include appearances by mogul Steve Madden and Levi’s Tracy Panek, as well as appearances by architect Goil Amornvivat, experiences designer Nelly Ben Hayoun, and marketing whiz Stacie Brockman of Métier Creative.
This year, SCAD turns an eye towards the beauty industry with a special panel discussion. Nick Axelrod of Nécessaire, Georgie Greville of Milk Makeup, Michael Marcano of Estée Lauder, Rose-Marie Swift of RMS Beauty and Linda Wells of Flesh Beauty will discuss the state of the beauty market.
We spoke with Rose-Marie Swift ahead of her appearance at SCADstyle next week.
Tell me about RMS Beauty and how you got started with that business.
I was born in Vancouver, Canada, and fate directed me to becoming a makeup artist. I worked in Canada for years and made my way to Europe and then finally to New York City in 1990.
I became a prominent makeup artist working with some of the world’s most prestigious models, actresses, photographers and magazines. During that time, I began to experience severe health problems. Having spent so many years in the fashion and make-up industry, I’ve learned a lot about the impact of daily exposure to chemicals in beauty care products. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t live up to its promises. I have seen the results of taking a quick-fix approach to looking good. I have seen first-hand the price our health can pay in the pursuit of beauty. I realized that what women need is a cosmetics line that is as pure as possible, one that creates a solid foundation for well-being, anti-aging and long-term beauty.
In my healing process and intense research, I discovered that some of the toxic and questionable chemicals in my body were also found in beauty products we use daily. I created beautytruth.com in 2004 to educate women on this self-regulated industry and the misconceptions surrounding the beauty world. I honestly believe that chemicals are redefining what beauty is in today’s cosmetic industry, and that is not acceptable. Hence, RMS Beauty was created so that women are able to enjoy luxurious, high quality products without compromising their health.
In a booming industry such as beauty, how do you keep up? What are some specific strategies you use to keep RMS Beauty at the top of the game?
If I’m being honest, I am not as concerned about being at the top of the game because the race to the top can easily turn into something that puts more emphasis on quantity over quality. I will always be concerned with quality and quality only. It’s great to be at the top and to push the limits of the industry, but what’s important to me is ensuring that the people who use our make-up are confident that they are using quality product that will not harm them in the short-term or the long-term.
I will say, however, that one strategy that can help maintain the loyalty between us and our customers is that I take great care in every aspect of our products. From the first inklings of an idea to formulas to packaging to advertising, I am always intensely involved. Sometimes when something becomes too big, it becomes over-managed. I think it’s important to keep a DIY attitude. That’s crucial for me. I like to keep a direct line of communication open between myself and our users across social media. It allows me to keep an ear to the ground and to keep the dialogue open with as many people as possible. It keeps me busy, but it helps me understand what and how our products are seen and used around the world.
How have beauty bloggers and celebrities with their own lines changed the beauty industry, if at all?
I think it has opened up a Pandora’s Box. On one hand, it has created enormous amounts of creative content and has helped to broaden diversity and inclusion. On the other hand, there are many who are creating a frenzy but are ignoring the quality and the safety of ingredients. Why? Because a lot of these newer brand “want-to-be’s” are seeking out cheap ingredients for mass production. There are plenty of “fast-food” beauty-laboratories that can process cosmetic formulas quick without much regard as to what chemicals are healthy and safe. Remember, the beauty industry is self-regulated. It reminds me a little bit like the fox guarding the chicken coop.
What has the body positivity movement done for the makeup industry? Has it influenced the way people buy/sell/think about makeup?
If you are asking in terms of wellness, then it has done wonders for the makeup industry--so long as brands are creating a more conscious and cleaner cosmetic brand.
The body positivity movement has really helped to push this idea that we should no longer take certain things for granted. What it means to be beautiful, what it means to be healthy, what it means to be educated—these are all important questions that the movement has promoted and made more and more mainstream.
“You are what you eat” is as true as ever. I believe the phrase also correlates with “you are what you put on your skin.” I can attest from my own experience. It all comes down to how we can spread and disseminate information. It’s so important to do your research, read ingredients and educate ourselves. Your skin is the largest organ, so using synthetic chemical-laden products is counter intuitive to say the least. So much information is out there that it can no longer be ignored. The change is under way for sure and any movement that works to promote happiness through healthiness is not only liberating, but necessary.
Why is it so important to market yourself well?
As a brand owner, you are the brand, and to be a successful brand, you need to have a story. Something that can connect with an audience. You must have something to say that moves the public, that is relatable, and has integrity. With today’s proper obsession with health and the environment, the brand needs to have a reason for creating a product in the first place, besides pure greed, that has a strong impact for our future well-being. You can have a lot of power as a brand owner to make real changes. I truly believe that a brand shouldn’t just become a big, corporate entity. A brand should be as human and relatable as its creator.
How did you get involved with SCADstyle?
The first time I came here was on a shoot with Louis Vuitton and I absolutely fell in love with the haunting beauty of this city. Little did I know that I would buy a home here, but I suppose a part of me, if even subconsciously, knew that I belonged here.
To be asked to take part in SCADStyle 2019 is an absolute honor. I feel as if SCAD, and Savannah in general, has created an atmosphere that consistently inspires and nurtures creativity. It’s exciting for me to see how the style industries are working to evolve and grow new voices.