Every woman has a different relationship to beauty and makeup. I go through phases of wearing bold lipstick and eye shadows and phases where I embrace a minimal look. (Well, as minimal as a Puerto Rican can ever get with makeup, so my version of minimal is just a bold eyebrow and… lots of shimmer and shine. OK, glitter. Lots of glitter.)
A few years ago, during a particularly difficult time with my personal relationships, I developed an obsession with tiny squares of flashy eye shadow given to me by a friend: a bright turquoise blue, a deep shade of rose pink, and a champagne-tinged glitter that I took to brushing all over my face (which I still do to this day). On the top of the small eye-shadow compacts were the words MAKE in a thin, almost handwritten type. I had never heard of the brand, so I did some sleuthing on its website. I felt like I was looking at art supplies rather than makeup, and it was hard to not go on a crazy buying spree. I also found out that MAKE was based right here in New York, and that the company donated 10 percent of all sales to its We See Beauty foundation, which works to empower women-owned businesses and cooperatives. I had found a new favorite.
Not only does MAKE actively support women entrepreneurs, but its own creative director, Ariana Mouyiaris, is an incredibly smart woman who I immediately felt a kinship to. After studying international relations and working in various design fields, she joined the family business — her dad Nikos started manufacturing high-end cosmetics in the 1970s — when they decided to launch their own brand. She agreed to show Lenny around the MAKE factory in Long Island City, Queens. (Of course we brought a camera along; you can check out all the glorious behind-the-scenes action below!) Afterward, we talked on Skype about starting a beauty company that approaches makeup more like art than "fix your wrongs," joining the family business, and why it's important to follow your instincts, in life and in the workplace.
Laia Garcia: What is your earliest beauty memory?
Ariana Mouyiaris: I remember my father coming home from work and his hand would be covered in color swatches, because he would be trying different shades of makeup. I always felt like beauty was a really tactile thing, and something that could be played with. My mother was this very stunning woman. She had this beauty dresser, and each main drawer just had all of these shadows and blushes all stacked together. I used to sit there and look through it all and play. I remember she gave me these really thick, fat pencils, which I guess were probably beauty pencils, but I got to use them for drawing.