Laurie McCartney Exits Stila

NEW YORK — Cosmetics brand Stila has experienced a shift in top management following the departure of Laurie McCartney, who shared chief executive officer responsibilities with Ken Ude.

Ude was officially named president and ceo of Stila in July, upon the departure of then ceo Jane McKellar. Shortly thereafter, McCartney was promoted from the chief marketing officer post to join Ude at the head of the company.

While McCartney spearheaded efforts from a marketing standpoint, Ude worked largely behind the scenes finishing up a separation of Stila from the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. Private equity firm Sun Capital Partners Inc. bought Stila from Lauder in April of 2006.

McCartney, who joined Stila in February, left the company several weeks ago.

"She was brilliant in what she did," Ude said in an interview Friday. "She brought an awful lot to the company.

"The separation from Estée Lauder was a huge effort for the company," Ude continued. "The new Stila can now really stand up and take a breath of fresh air." He added that the brand is looking to fill the chief marketing officer post.

Ude originally joined Stila as president in August 2006 after having worked as president and ceo of California-based Jim Russell Racing Schools. "The passion I saw in that business is exactly the same in this industry," said Ude, acknowledging the "different product and customer base.

"The people here are very passionate about the products," he added, and the brand has a "spectacular" following. "My three daughters love it," he said. "I didn't know much about beauty but when I was approached by Stila, I sent the e-mail out to my daughters and I have never heard such a response."

Ude, who called Stila a "fun" brand with individuality, said his goal is to "stay true to the original heritage" of Stila. One avenue to doing this, he said, is a redesigned Web site, stilacosmetics.com, which went live on Thursday. The new site, which was dark while Stila's distribution center was moved from its former location in North Hollywood, Calif., to a new location in Ontario, Calif., features links to YouTube video clips on makeup techniques, is "easier to shop" and provides a "more fun consumer experience," said Ude.

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