It wasn’t too long ago that Katherine “Annie” Finch had retired from the beauty industry at what she thought was the top of her game, it was certainly the top of the industry. Annie had held the esteemed position of VP of Sales and Marketing for the biggest name in the beauty business, Estée Lauder. However, after retiring Annie realized she wasn’t done just yet. Now, back to work on her own line, Katherine Cosmetics, this beauty/business expert is ready to dish on her experiences in corporate America, entrepreneurship, and the only five beauty products women really need…
Where did the idea for Katherine’s Cosmetics come from?
Sheer necessity! I worked for Estee Lauder for 23 years, and then I tried to retire. I then fired myself from retirement when I found myself looking for my favorite beauty products and was unable to find them. I decided I wanted to crate my own line since I couldn’t find what I wanted. My line is a whole different approach to beauty, it’s basically just 5 everyday items.
What are the five products?
Shimmer lip gloss, concealer, a cheek glow, mascara, and water proof eyeliner.
You just made everyone’s makeup counter so much cleaner!
Yes! It’s just so easy! Nothing breaks, nothing is in power, and nothing is complicated. In the industry we made so many products, but in reality you only need 5! No one talks about what you need in real life. Like what kind of makeup do you wear to go to the gym? Or spin class?
So what kind of make-up do you wear to spin class?
I made lip gloss that has sunscreen in it for when I’m riding horses, or going to the gym. You can also use the cheek glow so that you look refreshed when you do have to make it to that 7 am spin class. It makes you look rested without having a full face of makeup on. You can do everything in this makeup.
What’s been the biggest challenge of launching your own company?
The biggest challenge always remembering that there will be conflict and there is always more than one way to resolve it. I also care about quality. I wanted to put out the best product. You can never put out something that is not the best.
What’s the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome?
I am the first luxury cosmetics brand to be socially sold, so just perfecting my own business model, because it’s never been done. People say “oh you’re like a multi-level company like Avon?” No. I give the stylists business cards and all the collateral they may need.
Let’s say you meet a stylist, you can go online and click on the stylist’s profile and then they get commission. The real obstacle has been explaining this to the seasoned people in the industry.
What was difficult about being in such a large corporate environment?
Everyone gets to the point where the politics start. There are procedures that you have to follow, so for me for me now I can approve the logo, somewhere else it takes a whole process. I can make product quickly where it takes a larger company a year, year and a half.
What advice would you give to our readers who are currently entering the corporate world?
It’s a lifestyle. Not a job. I got asked in an interview how many hours I work, and I said 24/7. People always tell me “Oh you’re at this event, or this dinner” but it’s still work. It’s your lifestyle. You have to love and believe in it. You can’t do something just because you read all the statics on it. Kind of like hair care… I cannot go into hair care, I’m so bad with my hair! I know that I just know makeup.
Where do you hope to see your business in 5 years?
Five? Well that’s a good question, that was actually the length of my business plan, and I’m on 2 so it’s all about growth. People are always taking tests about their personalities and work styles, I’m not that girl. I just have spread sheets of numbers.
Do you hope to launch in stores?
No. I want to open my own stores. They will be all things Katherine, and appeal to real life people who are always on the go. I want to the store to have makeup, protein bars, and coffee. It’s everything you need in one store. How many times have you needed to go to Starbucks but don’t have the time because your running late to a birthday party and you still need to go to Sephora and buy lip gloss. It’s funny that when I left the corporate world, that’s when I actually saw what people need in real life.
Who is the Katherine Cosmetics woman?
It’s interesting because everyone asks me that. When I first started it was obviously myself then I realized that everyone loves makeup. My products are for someone who is on the go. Who doesn’t check their text messages while blow drying their hair?
[Photos By Hallie Duesenberg]