CEW honors cosmetics entrepreneurs with Achiever Awards

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

CEW 2014 Achiever Award honourees (from left) Alli Webb, Laura Geller, CEW president Carlotta Jacobson, and honourees Wende Zomnir, Jane Wurwand, and Sissel Tolaas.
CEW 2014 Achiever Award honourees (from left) Alli Webb, Laura Geller, CEW president Carlotta Jacobson, and honourees Wende Zomnir, Jane Wurwand, and Sissel Tolaas.

Related tags Cosmetics

Cosmetics Executive Women recognized five industry experts this week in New York City—Laura Geller, Alli Webb, Jane Wurwand, Wende Zomnir, and Sissel Tolaas—for their achievements as innovators and business leaders.

And, for the first time the professional organization honoured a man, Leonard A. Lauder, with a lifetime achievement award.

The annual awards function to “recognize the achievements of the cosmetics industry’s most talented women who serve as inspiration for future leaders and encourage companies to support women’s advancement,”​ according to the organization. The illustrious industry event took place earlier this week at a sold-out luncheon at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria.

Defining segments and brands

This year’s Achievement Award winners are each redefining segments across the personal care industry and building renowned brands.

Laura Geller

Geller was recognized for her work as founder of the eponymous Laura Geller Beauty, launched 21 years ago on the direct-sales TV platform QVC. The company tallies between $80 and $100 million in sales internationally, according to the CEW event program.

Laura Geller Beauty named Elana Drell Szyfer CEO in July. She’s charged with not only growing the QVC business but also with advancing the company’s product creation and technology, and establishing more physical store locations in the US and abroad.

Alli Webb

Webb is credited by some with having inventing the blowout segment in the haircare industry when she founded the first stand-alone Drybar salon in 2010.

The company now has 36 blow dry bar locations in major cities across the US and its own line of styling products and tools. Earlier this month, for instance, Drybar introduced “Up, Up and Away!”, a kit of travel-sized products.

Jane Wurwand

Wurwand received the CEW award as co-founder and co-owner of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute, headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Hers is a skin therapist’s approach to product development and skin care education.

Wurwand distinguishes herself and her brand from investor-backed ventures, proudly identifying as a self-made business women who exemplifies the American dream. Dermalogica took no outside funding and has sold no part of the company, she told the audience gathered for the Achiever Awards.

All the same, Wurwand backs women: “Our brand’s social impact initiative, Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship, demonstrates to me the when we invest in women, entire communities benefit exponentially,” ​she told CEW.

Wende Zomnir

Zomnir was honored as a founding partner and chief creative officer of Urban Decay Cosmetics, where she works to make the brand’s edgy, independent sensibility scalable (not subsumed) in the larger beauty industry. L’Oreal acquired Urban Decay nearly 2 years ago. 

Packaging plays a role in preserving the brand’s distinctive attitude. Urban Decay teamed with Fusion Design Studio on a double-wall acrylic jar with the look and feel of glass for the launch of the brand’s Ultra Definition Loose Finishing Powder earlier this year. 

Sissel Tolaas

Tolaas, a smell artist and scent-communications expert received the CEW Great Idea Award for Fragrance Innovation. She conducts research and exhibits on scents as familiar as perspiration, as ephemeral as fear, and as unthinkable as World War I.

Tolass’ lab in Berlin, Germany, seeks “to change the existing approach of nose and smell and the process of smelling” ​and has archived over 6,000 smells.

Her work is a combination of art and anthropology that has not surprisingly come to inform and inspire the fragrance industry. Bertrand Lemont, VP of global fine fragrances at International Flavors & Fragrances presented the award.

A lifetime of accomplishments

Leonard A. Lauder, chairman emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies, stepped up to accept his award amid a standing ovation from the attendees. He swiftly acknowledged that many cosmetic industry professionals work for women and joked that few had built a career working for their mothers, as he did.

“The Achiever Awards are so important to the beauty industry because they are dedicated to recognizing the success of powerful women leaders….We’re honored to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Leonard A. Lauder, who is a great advocate of women in the beauty community,” ​explained CEW president Carlotta Jacobson.

A video of countless compliments from Lauder’s industry peers played before he addressed the crowd. Top-tier professionals including Muriel Gonzalez, EVP of cosmetics, fragrances, and shoes at Macy’s; Terry Darland, president of LVMH Beauty; and Catherine Walsh, chief communications officer at Coty remarked on his talent for supporting women in the industry.

He has a talent for encouraging the woman consumer too. He’s known for advising those in the business to ask, What would the customers like? What do they want? rather than merely supplying what they need, according to Marigay McKee, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, who introduced Lauder.

He asserted, “No matter who is running the business, there is no business without women. They work harder, longer, make better decisions…”

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