How They Met: Stories of Amazing Beauty Partnerships

We admit we’re partial to business origin stories with a dynamic-duo bent—but can you blame us? Birchbox is the brainchild of two classmates and friends, and it’s convinced us that two minds are better than one. As it turns out, the beauty world is full of pitch-perfect pairings—and the founders all have their own aww-inducing first encounter stories. Here are some of our favorites.

(MALIN+GOETZ)

Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz aren’t being coy when they say they met at The Bar—that’s the actual name of the Manhattan watering hole where they originally crossed paths in 1994. The grooming power couple dated for 10 years before launching their apothecary-style skin and haircare brand. Their reasoning was simple: If they could make it a decade as life partners, they had a shot at succeeding together in business.

Best part of working with your partner:

Matthew: Trust.

Andrew: No politics, no ulterior motives—just a firm (and fun) commitment to our love child.

Product you’re most proud of:

Andrew: It’s nearly impossible to narrow down our pride to one particular product. That being said, I have become deeply fond of our 10% glycolic acid pads.

Matthew: If I must, it is the grapefruit face cleanser. It’s simply one of our best sellers, a brand staple, and the starting point for healthy skin. Love it.

Secret to lifelong harmony:

Andrew: Try not to discuss work-related issues over dinner.

Grand Central Beauty

When Jackie Lee and Ginger King met up in person at New York’s Grand Central Terminal after connecting on LinkedIn, they discovered that they were both Chinese, lifelong beauty addicts, and aspiring entrepreneurs—plus they shared a wealth of beauty retail experience. Less than two years later, they were churning out groundbreaking skincare products, like their S.M.A.R.T. Skin-Perfecting Polisher.

Why they’re the perfect match:

Ginger: She’s the “Jackie of all trades.” I can sleep tight at night knowing Jackie is on it. Another secret? Jackie is my go-to human test subject for our products. If it works for her sensitive skin, I know we can go ahead with a full-on clinical study without throwing money down the drain.

Jackie: Ginger King is “king” of product innovation! She has a passion for products—both as a professional and a consumer—like no one I’ve met before.

Bonding ritual:

Jackie: A full day (and sometimes night) of product testing. We have very different skin types, which is actually good for the brand. If it can work for us, it can work for you.

Caudalie

It all began with a boy, a girl, and a motorcycle (of course). Caudalie founders Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas fell in love back when Bertrand rode a motorcycle to class and Mathilde traveled by rickety bike. In 1993 the couple realized that Mathilde’s family vineyard in Bordeaux was effectively a skincare goldmine. Just two years later, the husband and wife duo had patented a process for extracting grape-seed polyphenols—a dynamite antioxidant—to use as the basis of Caudalie’s grape-derived skincare line.

Perks of working with your spouse:

Mathilde: The best part is being able to travel together. We do date nights when we travel, and that’s such an important part of keeping our relationship balanced.
Bertrand: At the end of the day, we know our commitment to each other and this business is 100% genuine.

Biggest challenge:

Bertrand: We have to be lovers before being business partners. Otherwise the whole balance falls apart.

The heart of the business:

Bertrand: We’re very proud to give back 1 percent of our sales worldwide to environmental organizations to help make a better world for our children. For instance, in 2012, for every Divine Oil purchased, a tree was planted in a forest in the Andean Amazon in Peru, on the site of Alto Huaya Bamba. So by the end of 2012, 150,000 trees had been planted!

Floss Gloss

While studying at California College of the Arts, Aretha Sack and Janine Lee bonded over beauty, fashion, rap music, and most of all: nail art. Before long, they’d parlayed their passion into a full-blown business, launching a line of ultramodern lacquers, and Floss Gloss Nail Polish quickly gained a cult following.

Why they’re a perfect match:

Aretha: We’re polar opposites. I love Janine’s ability to multitask.
Janine: Currently we’re the only two employees, so we really have to be there for one another. Aretha is a color genius and keeps the mood at work light and happy. I'm never surprised if she's twerking and emailing.

Perks of working with your BBF:

Janine: We get to dream up our nail color fantasies and turn them into reality. That's pretty cool.
Aretha: We can hit the club after work.

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