Behind-the-Scenes: Cynthia Rowley on Developing Her Beauty Line

Most fashion designers are happy if they can produce two ready-to-wear collections a year. But Cynthia Rowley is not most designers. Over the past few years, the New York-based entrepreneur has expanded her empire to include everything from uncommon sweets (Curious Candy) to limited-edition contemporary art (Exhibition A). Her latest: beauty—and we've got the inside scoop on the making of Rowley's debut line.

Cynthia Rowley Beauty launched in November with a trio of meticulously perfected products: the Eye Shadow Palette - No. 1; a Liquid Liner in Black Ink, and a Gilded Canvas Bag. Rowley says, "I wanted to stay true to myself and my brand. It's sporty, pretty, artistic, and a little bit colorful while experimenting with new techniques, formulas, and applications."
cynthia rowley beauty mood board Some of the imagery that inspired the eye shadow palette.

Months ago, when Rowley first began the development process, one of her first priorities was creating an eye shadow palette. The designer began by determining a color scheme and narrowing down the number of shades. Eventually she settled on a fall plum theme and five gorgeous colors: Clove, a deep matte brown; Sugarplum, a velvety taupe; Patina, a gold-speckled eggplant; Mink, a rich cappuccino; and Champagne, a shimmery gold. The palette itself is long and skinny, a form that Rowley says is an ode to her childhood nickname, Slim. (Spoiler: Rowley says this will be a recurring visual trend as she releases more products.) cynthia rowley beauty testing Testing different formulas and palette layouts.

Developing the liner, Rowley says, was a lot more straightforward. A longtime fan of the thick-but-precise black eyeliner look, the designer had struggled to find a product that lived up to her exacting standards. Translation: She knew what she wanted from the get-go. "For years, whenever I wanted to wear strong black eyeliner, I had to resort to using a Sharpie," said Rowley. "Now, we've created a smudge-proof liquid liner that has all the conveniences." cynthia rowley beauty palette shadow Rowley considered several different motifs for the exterior of the palette before deciding on the floral plum print.

After test-driving countless formulas and numerous different materials, the last step was giving everything the right look and feel. As an avid art collector (and co-founder of the groundbreaking site Exhibition A), Rowley wanted the brand's aesthetic to reflect her interest. "We developed the packaging to be special and timely so that seasonal products each have their own little piece of art on them," she says.

The Cynthia Rowley Beauty Launch Collection is exclusive to Birchbox. Be the first to get the products, and be sure to watch the palette and liner in action our Day to Night tutorial!

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