JENI LEE: CRUSADING TO TIDY UP COSMETICS

Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — Jeni Lee Dinkel wants every woman in America to throw her makeup straight into the trash.
“You don’t even want to know how much bacteria there is in a three-year-old lipstick,” the veteran makeup artist said, admonishing a small group of women as she pitched an older lip color toward a nearby trash can.
“Makeup has a shelf life,” she points out. “It has preservatives, but it doesn’t stay good indefinitely. You can buy the perfect lipstick, but a few years later, you’re going to have to break down and throw it away, even if half of it is still in the tube.”
She admits that makeup hoarding is a fairly universal situation. “Show me any woman around, and she probably has a drawerful of makeup that’s cracked and old,” she said. “We need to take the cosmetics industry to a new level while protecting the consumer.” Of course, in the midst of this cosmetics evangelism, Dinkel isn’t advocating makeup-free faces. Instead, she’s hoping they’ll reach for her new cosmetics line, Jeni Lee. The color collection is launching exclusively in Henri Bendel in August, and each item is marked with a small sticker — marked, appropriately enough, Trash It — that indicates when the consumer should toss the product.
While Dinkel said she had been approached by larger cosmetics companies to do partnership collections, in the end, she opted to form her own privately funded company with the help of her “angel investors,” all from the Cincinnati area. She’s now the founder and chief executive officer of Jeni Lee Enterprises, which was formed earlier this year. Dinkel concedes that she’s not the first to suggest adding expiration dates to cosmetics, but she points out that it’s not a popular view.
“Other cosmetics companies may say to their customers, ‘Well, we use stronger preservatives than Jeni Lee does,”‘ Dinkel said. “Well, I’ve got news for consumers. There aren’t any bionic preservatives out there, and everyone knows it.”
And while there may not be one called Bionic Woman, most of the stockkeeping units in Dinkel’s lineup carry Hollywoodish names. That seems natural, as Dinkel is a longtime movie makeup artist. Her list of credits includes the films “Wild Things,” “Forrest Gump” and “Fair Game.”
Her collection names follow suit. The eye products, for instance, fall under the province of Eyes Wide Shut. That collection includes 26 eye shadows — with names like It’s a Wrap, Camera and Stunts — each retailing for $20. The eye product range also includes five eye pencils, each retailing for $15; two long-wearing mascara shades, $19 each, and five brow pencils, $15 each.
The lip collection, dubbed Kiss of Death, includes 26 moisturizing lip colors, including Flicker, Actor Actress, Time Card and Red Carpet, $18 each; 13 SPF 15 lipsticks, including Stuntman, Stand-In and Drama, $18 each; eight long-wearing lip glosses, including Chill Out, Groupie and Diner, $17 each, and 10 lip pencils, including Fade, Zoom, Gaffer and Sitcom, $16 each.
Face Off, the facial products grouping, includes seven categories of product. They are Liquid Foundation SPF 15, available in 16 shades, $39 each; Cream Foundation SPF 15, available in 16 shades, $42 each; Concealer, a light formula in six shades, $23 each; Loose Powder, a fine-textured blend in six shades, $32; Pressed Powder, a sheer formula in six shades, $30; Shimmer Powder, a luminescent blend in three shades — Platinum, Gold and Bronze — $32 each, and Powder Blush, a delicate blend in 12 shades ranging from Ever After to Pillow Talk, $23 each.
Skin Deep, the skin care collection, includes Gentle Cleansing Lotion, $32.50 for 6 oz.; Herbal Toning Mist, $31.50 for 6 oz.; Facial Moisturizer SPF 22, $35 for 3.75 oz., and Hydrating Primer, a hydrating facial primer, $35 for 3.75 oz.
Dinkel’s introductory lineup also includes a wide range of makeup brushes, under the appropriately witty heading, The Fuller Brush Girl. Seventeen brushes — from powder and blending brushes to concealer and brow brushes — are available. They range in price from $19 to $67.
Joe Price, executive vice president of Jeni Lee Enterprises, is quick to point out that the company has grand plans for expansion. “We’re building a brand here — we’re already trademarked in 27 countries, trademarked in both cosmetics and other categories, and we’re talking to people overseas about the brand.” Without offering details, Dinkel and Price said they were contemplating additional categories and that the company could start doing overseas business within the next year.
The company plans a direct mail campaign and numerous in-store events at Bendel’s, as well as advertising in Hamptons Magazine, New York magazine and the New York Times Style section. Neither Dinkel nor Price would comment on expected sales revenues or first-year advertising spending, although industry sources estimated that the first-year sales could top $1 million and first-year advertising spending could top $500,000.
In conjunction with her new makeup line, Dinkel is promoting her new book, “Makeup Scenes,” a step-by-step guide to creating makeup looks. “It may sound a little corny, but its purpose is to make sure that any woman can become her own makeup artist,” she said.
And while the collection will initially be exclusive to Bendel’s, it won’t be for long. Dinkel will open her first freestanding cosmetics store in Cincinnati in August, with more planned next year. As many as 23 freestanding stores could be in operation by the end of 2001.

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