Martina Arfwidson, the president of Face Stockholm, has a smile as bright as the Great White Way, and no wonder. She’s been dancing since the age of four, hosted a national TV series in her native Sweden when she was 15 and moved to New York at 18 to attend the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. She switched gears at 21, opening Face Stockholm’s first American store on West 79th Street. Founded by Arfwidson’s mother, Gun, in the early Eighties, Face has since blossomed into 27 freestanding stores worldwide and an additional 90 doors that carry the line. Most recently, the brand collaborated with J. Crew on a line of bright nail polishes and cheery lip colors, a partnership that is expected to expand further come fall. For Arfwidson, an education in the performing arts provided the perfect platform for her role presiding over a cosmetics company. “When you’re on stage, you have to be extremely focused, and you have to make sure your message comes across, whether it’s your own or someone else’s,” she says. “When you’re running a company, it’s also about conveying your message at all times.” One of her most valuable business lessons came from her theater teacher, Karen Gustafson, the first female music director on Broadway. “She used to tell us, ‘Good enough is not good enough,’” Arfwidson remembers, “and that has stayed very strongly with me. When you have a cosmetics counter or store, you always have to be better.” Today, Arfwidson lives in Hudson, N.Y., with her husband and two young children, and while she professes no desire to go on stage, she is still passionate about dancing. “When you dance, you can’t think of anything else. It is the quintessential meditation for me,” she says. “You are in the moment, and not contemplating anything except for what you are doing at that very second.”
This story first appeared in the June 15, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.