When Anastasia Soare first moved to Los Angeles over 20 years ago, she noticed a glaring gap in the market: no one was paying any attention to brows. After applying the Golden Ratio technique she learnt in art school to shaping and sculpting Hollywood’s brows, her business started to take off, leading to the hugely successful Anastasia Beverly Hills beauty empire that exists today. ABH is now a multi-billion dollar brand, incorporating brow kits, make-up and brushes. Here Anastasia talks to us about the brand’s origins and why she believes inclusivity is so important in beauty, while her daughter Norvina, the brand’s President, shares the inspiration behind their latest ABH makeup range.
Where are you from originally and what made you decide to move to Los Angeles?
“I was born in the port city of Constanta, Romania, but in the Seventies and Eighties the Communist regime there became incredibly restrictive. Repression was commonplace, there was no electricity after 7PM, heating was an issue and food was scarce. It was honestly a struggle to live there. There didn’t appear to be many opportunities to get ahead, grow or move past it. I knew that I wanted to create something for myself that would give me purpose each and every day, and I believed the United States would be the place that would give me that opportunity.”
What did you do before you started working in makeup, and what was your life like before?
“I always had an interest in beauty and working as an esthetician was a job I could do without speaking perfect English. While responsible for facial and body waxing, I noticed this glaring gap in the market – no one was paying attention to their eyebrows! I had this stroke of inspiration that maybe the same Golden Ratio I had learnt about in art school could be applied to shaping brows, bringing balance and proportion to my clients’ faces. I developed a three-step technique based on the theory and began to offer brows as a separate service. Soon, demand skyrocketed.”
Tell us about the science of the Golden Ratio and how you apply it to brows?
“The Golden Ratio is a naturally occurring mathematical principle of thirds that has influenced centuries of art and architecture and is believed to bring aesthetic harmony. My Golden Ratio Shaping Technique uses three measurements that tailor brows to each individual’s unique bone structure: 1. Brows should begin directly above the middle of your nostrils; 2. Brows should end where the corner of the nostril connects with the outer corner of the eye; and 3. The highest point of the arch should connect the middle of the tip of the nose with the middle of the iris.”
Why did you decide to expand beyond shaping eyebrows?
“The Golden Ratio Shaping Technique brings balance and proportion to each unique face, and I realized makeup had the capability to do that as well. When my clients would come in, I’d fill in their brows with my own homemade mix of eyeshadow, aloe and Vaseline. There were no products for brows on the market at the time and when I saw there was an interest, I set out to be the first. People could use these products at home to achieve the balance and proportion I was creating in the salon, bringing harmony to their entire face.”
When was the moment you and your daughter, Norvina, chose to come up with your own makeup line?
“We always asked ourselves: what does our client need? Following the same principle of the Golden Ratio, we created the first of its kind Contour Kit. With the dark and light shades, customers could create shadows on areas of their face that they wanted to recede, or highlight areas they wanted to enhance, bringing balance and proportion to their faces. When we thought there could be a better long-lasting lip color, we created our cult-favorite Liquid Lipstick. And we began to release palettes when we believed we could put out an incredible formula. We always want to give our best.”
Norvina, what role do you play in the brand?
“I am the President of Anastasia Beverly Hills, involved in all business and product development and marketing, and I also act as Creative Director for the brand.”
When did you first realize the power of social media, in relation to your brand? And how to you decide which influencers to work with for collaborations?
“Thanks to Norvina, we were very early adopters on Instagram. She saw it as an opportunity for the brand to expand through social media and build a special relationship with users. Knowing that not everyone would use makeup the same way and that it would need to be customized from face to face, we were excited to showcase the diversity of what everyone was creating. It also hit me just how many more people we could reach. When we would travel to the salons at Nordstrom and spend time speaking with clients about the products, we would maybe reach 100 people a day. It was all we could do with the time constraints. But when we posted those first images, we were soon getting thousands of likes. A woman commented about how she wished she had Brow Wiz where she was. I asked, ‘What’s your address, I’ll send you one.’ But she was in Pakistan! We had a fan all the way in Pakistan, and it was then that I realized the kind of reach social media was going to allow us to have.”
Norvina, you just came out with your own brand – tell us about your inspirations, direction and where you want to go with it?
“The Norvina Collection will focus on bright, experimental products based on my colorful aesthetic and the Norvina personal brand. As a makeup collection, Norvina will go beyond the staples ABH offers, without any overlap. The palettes have their own vibes that still exist within the ABH family, but are not typically aligned with ABH’s signature style. For a long time, I had to be very conscious of everything I did because it was always tied to the brand. I tried to toe the line and do my artistic expression — but not too much and to do it with products and colors within the brand. Then I realized I didn’t want to reach for other brands to create these colorful looks. It’s always been my thing, but I didn’t want to alienate or intimidate anyone. Finally, enough time had passed where I found that I could really carve a niche within it. I could have the best of both worlds within the brand.”
How do your personal styles translate into your makeup products and collections?
“We create products for everyone and our primary focus is on quality. Whether selecting from the ABH core collection or underneath the Norvina Collection umbrella, our consumers will find all the tools they need to illustrate their own personal style.”
ABH is all about inclusivity – why do you believe it’s so important to include people of all backgrounds in the brand?
“Beauty is for everyone. It doesn’t know age, gender, race or sexual orientation. Color range and representation have always been paramount goals, which I think you can tell when looking at our launches. I truly believe that makeup has the transformative power to truly affect someone’s life. Customers are essentially inviting us into their homes, their routines, the way they choose to present themselves to the world. It’s a very intimate experience and I’m so proud that ABH gets to be a part of that for so many people.”
Who are your style icons?
“I love and admire the personal style of so many people, but I try to be my own style icon. Growing up, I watched my mother tailor and fit clothes to perfection, so I learned what works best for my own body.”
Tell us something about you no one knows.
“I used to be a gymnast!”