L’Oréal Blackett sips champagne with billionaire beauty mogul Anastasia Soare
Anastasia Soare presents me with the option of water or champagne. As if I’m being tested, I do the very polite and very British thing and opt for water. She proceeds to pour me champagne anyway.
“It’s a celebration,” she smirks, at the pop of the bottle, “cheers to empowering women with makeup. Cheers to that.”
For one of America’s most successful beauty entrepreneurs, a glass of champagne at noon is more than appropriate; there’s much to celebrate.
Soare is the founder of Anastasia Beverly Hills, a global beauty empire now estimated to be worth $1 billion dollars by Forbes magazine. As of July this year, the Romanian-born CEO is listed as one of the richest self-made businesswomen in the USA.
So yes, cheers to that.
“My story inspires women. I encourage women to do what I did because if I could do it everybody could do it. So lets celebrate,” she smiles.
While her fellow Forbes ‘beauty billionaire’ list-mate Kylie Jenner ‘self-made’ title is questioned, Anastasia’s own journey to a billion lacks the benefit of a silver spoon.
“I went to art school in Romania but because it was a communist country my husband and I wanted to escape the communist regime,” she tells me.
“We decided to go to the United States. My husband defected in 1987 and I had to wait three years to get a passport. In those years I waited, my husband suggested I to go to beauty school because I didn’t speak English and he thought it’d be difficult for me to get a job.”
Anastasia is in Manchester for a meet-and-greet at her store counter at Intu Trafford Centre, one of the first UK based counters. The makeup lovers have piled in. I’ve been to many a meet-and-greet and seldom see CEOs command such attention – the adoration is usually reserved for the cover models and IT girl ambassadors.
Maybe all the love is gratitude. After all, if it weren’t for Anastasia, Hollywood’s undisputed and reigning queen of eyebrows, our brows would still be the over-tweezed slivers they were back in the nineties. Without doubt, she changed the way we shape our eyebrows for the better.
...if you want to change an expression on a face, just change the eyebrow shape.
“I started working as an aesthetician when I came to the United States and I couldn’t understand why all of the supermodels – this was back in the nineties – didn’t pay attention to eyebrows,” she laughs with disbelief. “In Romania it was normal to have your eyebrows tweezed. I look back at pictures of myself in high school and I looked so surprised as they were pencilled on and round…"
Over-tweezed brows aside, it was also in Romania where Anastasia, a budding artist, would learn the formula to perfect brows that would later propel her cosmetic business.
“It was an aha! moment. Everything my art teacher taught us in art class when we would draw portraits made sense. He’d say ‘if you want to change an expression on a face, just change the eyebrow shape.’”
“So I went to the library to re-learn everything about ‘the golden ratio’. I started to develop a technique to shape eyebrows according to individual bone structure and natural shape.”
This technique would then see her tend to the brows of Los Angeles most famous faces. A few days before we meet, Kim Kardashian shares a snap of Anastasia on her Insta Stories. It was a personal brow emergency call. This is not uncommon…
I was invited by Oprah Winfrey to go on her show to do her eyebrows
“I just saw Naomi two days ago before I came to UK. She said ‘I never let anyone touch my eyebrows’. She has been my client for 28 years,” she says with the nonchalance of someone who is more than accustom to celebrity.
Anastasia’s celebrity clientele and global fan base has been built one pluck at a time since the early nineties.
“When I started doing eyebrows it was a walking advertisement,” she adds. “It got more popular and became the best kept secret for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, Michelle Pfeiffer…”
“In 1998 I was invited by Oprah Winfrey to go on her show to do her eyebrows – and you know how she is – everything Oprah recommends is like a seal of approval. It was so great to see her joy.”
A combination of Oprah Winfrey approval, expert products and a commitment to inclusivity has ensured Anastasia Beverly Hills worldwide success.
“…I couldn’t understand how I could have a client in my chair and not have a colour for her. Twenty years ago there were only four colours. I told my daughter, ‘I have to cater for everybody I don’t care who you are – Hispanic, African American, Asian if you have blue eyes – whatever!’ I want every woman on planet earth would be able to have product.”
Just look at Instagram in 2010 to now – the way women are doing their eyebrows has completely changed.
Anastasia’s global dreams seem to have already actualised. She has 17.8 million followers on Instagram alone and a few hundred of those followers were waiting for her outside the room as we spoke.
“Just look at Instagram in 2010 to now – the way women are doing their eyebrows has completely changed.”
She’s right. The popularised ‘Insta Brow’ is all her doing. Even my own brows have been influenced by Anastasia Beverly Hills.
What about her own routine? Does a CEO (currently dressed in a Chanel blazer with a perfect Hollywood blowout) have time to always be immaculate?
“I get dressed up every day. It makes me feel good and it is the best therapy ever. I feel powerful. Once you’re all put together your whole aura changes. The way I look is important to me.”
Not everyone is comfortable admitting that looks are important to them. Yet brows became her big business for a reason. It seems Anastasia’s long game is continuing to empower women through makeup.
“The joy is when I see a woman happy with how she looks – it’s considered a little thing but it is a big for women.”
It was probably an obvious question to end on (maybe it was the bubbles) but I had to know, in her opinion, what continues to help her stand apart in a business now so oversaturated.
"People always ask me ‘why are you different from the other makeup artists?’ I say well, there are many painters but there’s only one Picasso...'