At 63 years old, beauty executive Don Loftus is ready to get his Millennial on.
He left his post as president at fragrance company Parlux in mid-January and is taking inspiration from his younger peers as he looks for his next venture.
“Millennials, I just find them…much more respectful than we were of our elders, they seem really curious and it’s a generation that I think really has its head on straight,” Loftus said. “This generation really does seem like they want to be happy, they want to be with people they like to work with and they want to make a difference.
“There’s a whole slew of us [in the beauty industry]…at this end of our career, and we’re just realizing that now,” Loftus continued. “Most of us when we’ve decided to do the next step or the final act, it was like, ‘alright, enough of this, I just want to be happy.'”
For now, Loftus’ LinkedIn page lists him as a consultant — “LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to say, ‘I’m just taking a break, you have to put something in,” he said — but after a career that’s spanned P&G, YSL, the May Co. and more, a break while he entertains conversations about potential next steps is exactly what he’s doing.
Loftus started his career at the May Co., where he eventually became the cosmetics buyer. “Back then, they thought only males could be cosmetic buyers because the industry didn’t know how strong women were yet,” Loftus said. “It was between me and the garden shop guy — I got the job.”
He stayed with the business for 12 years before jumping to Estée Lauder, where as he tells it, his job was to make sure Clinique didn’t overtake the namesake brand. “They didn’t want the core brand to become second,” Loftus said. “So they hired me in the New England area to fix that.”
Eventually, he followed Lynne Greene from Lauder to Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, staying with the brand through different ownership periods. “I grew up in Cleveland,” Loftus said. “I’d never dreamed I would be going to couture shows for Saint Laurent in Paris when he was still alive.”
Loftus wound up at Wella, which was sold to P&G (and was recently sold again, to Coty Inc.), and then Parlux, where he’s been for four years. Now, he’s trying to take his time and keep an open mind to all sorts of potential opportunities, including consulting, but also joining a corporation again, or running an organization that supports the arts — one of his passions.
“I”m really wide open,” Loftus said. “I don’t want to close my mind….I’m not in a big rush.”