From art and architecture to eyebrows? It’s not the most common of career switches by any stretch of the imagination, but it works for Anastasia Soare.
“Studying technical design and art gave me the ability to see things in 3-D,” said the Los Angeles-based brow expert. “Back then, we didn’t have computers — we figured things with pencils. Once I became an aesthetician, I took that knowledge and studied the bone structure of every ethnic group. It has helped me to find the perfect shape for anyone’s bone structure.”
Born and raised in Romania, Soare earned a degree from the Romania College of Architecture. But after taking time off to be with her husband and newborn daughter, she found it challenging to find work in that field. Switching gears, she enrolled in cosmetology school, earning an aesthetician’s license — which fueled her passion for brows and products.
“Keep in mind that this was Romania in the Communist era,” said Soare. “We would go to the pharmacy and buy ingredients so we could mix up products for our aesthetics clients. To do that well, I studied a little cosmetic chemistry, and that was the genesis of my first brow products.”
In 1989, Soare and her family emigrated to the U.S., where she began working as an aesthetician at a small salon on Melrose in L.A. “I didn’t speak the language and I didn’t know how to drive on the freeways,” Soare said with a laugh. “I drove everywhere with a Thomas Brothers [the pre-GPS bible of Southern Californians] map on my lap!”
In 1992, Soare struck out on her own, first renting a small space at the Juan Juan Beauty Center in Beverly Hills and in 1997 signing a lease for her own space on Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. “There were not salon boutiques at that time, to speak of,” said Soare, whose salon has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. “So after two years, we had to have our own product line, at least for makeup — none of the big prestige companies wanted to sell to small boutiques at that time. And there were no brow products commercially available.”
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Today, Soare produces 42 brow-related stockkeeping units, as well as a makeup line she sells in her Beverly Hills location. A treatment gel called NuBrow — a serum said to help eyebrow hair regrowth — and implements and concealers are also part of the mix. Soare plans to eventually take the NuBrow franchise into a full treatment line.
In 2000, Soare’s products entered Nordstrom, followed by Sephora. Her distribution now includes 400 doors in the U.S., such as Ulta, Sephora and Nordstrom; 80 Nordstrom stores include Anastasia Brow Studios, where clients can go in for a shaping performed by a licensed aesthetician. “We are 62 percent ahead of last year’s revenues at our Nordstrom Brow Studios,” said Soare.
Two of Soare’s Brow Studios operate at Sephora, one in Times Square and a second on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. She is planning to open a freestanding Brow Studio in Manhattan next year — one is already operating in Beverly Hills — and has her eye on a slew of additional freestanding Brow Studio locations domestically and internationally. “We are very bullish about expanding for next year,” she said.
Globally, Soare’s products can be found in Canada, Japan — where 10 Brow Studios are in operation — Finland, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Greece, Slovenia and France. She’s in talks to enter China, Croatia, Dubai, the U.K., New Zealand and Australia, among other markets, and hopes to tap the South American market as well. A beauty school is also on Soare’s to-do list.
She will also launch several new brow-related products in January. Brow Wiz, an $18 mechanical brow pencil that will be available in three shades; Brow Filler, a new brow color applicator that contains brunette and blonde powders to give the user custom-blending opportunities, $20, and Tweezers Anonymous, a compilation of Soare’s products — Brow Stix, a stencil kit; Brown Filler, a mini duo brush, and NuBrow, a gel intended to condition, repair and restore overplucked brows, $55. While Soare declined to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that the new sku’s could add $2 million at retail in their first year on counter.
All of Soare’s products are being repackaged — and several products that were not previously boxed will be packaged that way. “We want to make it easier for customers to reach for us,” she said, adding that the new packaging “shows what’s in the box.”
“I still do eyebrows every day,” said Soare. “Doing that gives me an advantage — it helps me to refine my products, and to realize from a customer perspective what is still needed.”