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WWD Beauty Inc Honors Urban Decay’s Wende Zomnir With Impact Award

The 16th annual WWD Beauty Inc awards ceremony recognized other achievements across the beauty industry.

Wende Zomnir knows how to make her presence felt.

The winner of WWD Beauty Inc’s first Impact Award, Urban Decay’s cofounder looked to the brand’s initial mission statement from 1996 when accepting her award Thursday morning during the publication’s annual awards ceremony held in Manhattan’s Rainbow Room.

“When we started Urban Decay, my goal wasn’t to knock on the door of the cosmetics department, my mission was to knock it down,” Zomnir said. “Back in 1996 I wrote a brand statement that said, ‘Urban Decay is makeup for self-expression. It’s for girls and boys who want to rattle the notion of what beauty is.’”

With that unshakable vision and an assortment of unconventional products, like edible sparkly body powder and punk-inspired nail polish, Zomnir transformed the brand, now owned by L’Oréal, from an indie darling into the second-largest makeup brand in the U.S., all the while maintaining an ethos of inclusivity and self-expression.

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“The standard notions of beauty aren’t so strict anymore and that’s one of the cool things that Urban Decay and a lot of other indie brands have done for this industry and our customers,” she said. “It’s opened up a world of beauty customers who didn’t feel included before. They feel included now.”

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During the presentation, Conor Begley, cofounder of Tribe Dynamics, presented four key social media trends in beauty during 2017 and their expected impact for the year ahead: increased investment in influencers, customers buying products based on other customer reviews; increased growth in social media for skin and hair-care categories, and more diversity among products and brands.

“This will lead to a redefinition of the way demographics have historically been used,” he said of the last point. “We’re moving toward more inclusivity and diversity with whom we work with and a more one-to-one conversation between the brand and the influencer.”

An emotional moment during the event came when WWD’s longtime executive beauty editor Pete Born, who assumed the role of editor at large in October, was presented with the Visionary Award. Phasing out the Visionary Award in his honor, starting next year the main award will be the Peter Born Impact Award.

“I’ve been here for 27 years because I’ve had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth accompanied by the greatest crew,” he said. “I love this industry and the people in it because it has both a mind and a heart. It is a business with a strong pulse and as someone who came out of college with the idea to be a science writer, I was attracted to a business that combines chemistry, art and psychology.”

Here, a full list of this year’s winners:

Product of the Year, Prestige: It Cosmetics Bye Bye Lines Foundation (color cosmetics), Nannette de Gaspé (skin care), Floraïku (fragrance)

Product of the Year, Mass: Burt’s Bees Beauty (color cosmetics), St. Ives Mixing Bar (skin care), Maui Moisture (hair care)

Brand of the Year: Too Faced Cosmetics (prestige), Maybelline New York (mass)

Retailer of the Year: Bloomingdale’s (prestige), Wal-Mart (mass), Coty Inc. and Story (specialty)

Newsmaker of the Year: Brandon Truaxe, founder of Deciem, The Abnormal Beauty Company, and Kylie Jenner, chief executive officer of Kylie Cosmetics

Digital Innovator of the Year: Shiseido and MatchCo (prestige), Morphe (mass), Wunder2 (specialty)

Indie of the Year: Drunk Elephant

Influencer of the Year: Marianna Hewitt

Disrupter of the Year: Julep

Founder’s Award: Jo Horgan, founder, Mecca Brands

Brand Builder of the Year: Tevya Finger and Daniel Kaner, cofounders and copresidents of Oribe Hair Care, Tarang Amin, chief executive officer of E.l.f. Beauty

Launch of the Year: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna (prestige), Beauty Pie (mass)

Corporate Social Responsibility: The Estée Lauder Cos. Breast Cancer Campaign

The Impact Award: Wende Zomnir, cofounder, Urban Decay

The Visionary Award: Pete Born, editor at large, WWD