Gucci Westman used to hate being pigeonholed as the skin-centric makeup artist — but when she started her beauty brand, she decided to lean in to that ethos.
“I saw that there was an opportunity to bridge this gap between natural and luxury,” said Westman, of the white space she saw before launching her company, Westman Atelier.
“And I also brought the artistry component, which is a nice proposition there,” she continued, alongside her husband and cofounder, David Neville (formerly of Rag & Bone), in conversation with Marita Burke, chief Mecca-maginations officer of Mecca Beauty. “It’s different.”
The duo has had a product-first approach from the start, they said, focused on ingredients, performance and wellness. They began working on it in 2014.
“It took us four years to formulate and develop the packaging and product,” Neville said. “We eventually went to market in 2018. We launched with Barneys [New York].”
While developing, Westman used her artistry, years of experience working as a makeup artist — with Hollywood stars like Drew Barrymore, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz — while tapping into her childhood, too. From the age of 10 until her 20s, she lived in Sweden, immersed in the natural world.
“My parents grew all of their vegetables,” she said. “We went to get milk from the farmer. My parents made their own cheese….We were really connected to how we were living. There was a lot of focus on mindfulness. We meditated.”
That family history, combined with years of work, has influenced the creation of Westman Atelier; ultimately, it offers modern luxury that is also nourishing to the skin, setting the brand apart, Neville said.
“What was apparent to me — I looked at the landscape in cosmetics, and there were no brands that spoke to luxury and performance, clean ingredients and artistry,” he added.
The approach has been working. Westman Atelier is profitable, he noted, with a captive audience: “What’s really a wonderful progression of our brand is Gucci’s engagement with the consumer. It’s so earnest and authentic.”
Westman has built a loyal following, with more than a quarter million followers on Instagram.
“I have to say, the best thing about social media is that conversation you can have with your community,” said Westman, who takes note of their feedback, needs and wants.
Involved in every aspect of the brand, it takes her years to develop products. Modern luxury to her, she said, is the time taken to ensure the final results live up to her expectations. Westman Atelier utilizes active ingredients and always include efficacy levels, she said.
“I have rosacea, and that has actually been quite a big catalyst…I didn’t want to just correct,” she went on. “I wanted to have this wellness component, repair the skin.”
Next month, she’ll introduce the brand’s first face powder. Housed in a refillable compact, it’s formulated with vitamin C and probiotics to brighten and reduce pores. There’s also another product in the works for fall, as the brand continues to enter new categories in cosmetics — and ultimately expand beyond beauty. But everything has to make sense in the context of the brand.
“It’s all about credibility,” Neville said. “As we grow, we’ll be given license to play in some of these areas [in lifestyle].…The brand really lives at the intersection of beauty, wellness, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, family. That feels very modern to me.”
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