For the latest episode of #LFH, our Instagram Live series on how fashion, beauty and wellness industry leaders are Leading From Home, Glossy beauty and wellness reporter Emma Sandler interviewed Gucci Westman, founder of cosmetics company Westman Atelier. Westman signed on from Bedford, New York, where, since mid-March, she’s been juggling work and new remote learning responsibilities for her three kids, ages 3-13. 

Westman said, prior to coronavirus, a percentage of her staff had worked remotely from various cities, but the team is “shining more than ever” in the new, 100% work-from-home setup. It’s driven more collaboration and a family-like atmosphere, she said. 

As for how customers have responded to recent changes, Westman said people have become more curious and hungry for knowledge about product factors including ingredients.  

“We have a bit more time on our hands,” she said. “And we’re all ready for transparency, across the board. We want to know that what we put on our bodies is safe.” 

Below are more highlights from the discussion, lightly edited for clarity. 

The road to lifestyle brand
“I’m very much a lifestyle person. I’m not as much a fashion makeup artist full-on as I used to be, because I wanted this brand to be part of me. I focus so much on eating well, exercise, the harmony between those things, being mindful and practicing those things in real life, This is not a trend for me; this is how I live — so it really feels like an extension of my arm, in a way. Of course, I am creative, and I love getting my rocks off creatively. But I do feel so in sync with our brand and what we’re doing. And I love, for example, interiors, and I love things that are useful. We have some very exciting launches coming in December and January that I hope everyone will enjoy, that are maybe not totally makeup. Maybe one day I’ll want to do a candle, or I might want to do a line of knickers or pajamas — these things that make you feel good are such powerful tools.”

Creating a hero product
“We went to four different labs. I said, ‘Mascara is such a challenging category; I have yet to use a clean or natural mascara that I felt performed like I wanted it to.’ I said, ‘I want my lashes to be as long as possible, as shiny as possible, as voluminous as possible, no crumbling, no flaking, jet black, and I want them to have this natural curling agent.’ And all of the labs were scoffing. There were multiple disappointing rounds of samples, but finally, three years later, one lab crushed it. We were able to get the really beautiful black [color] using minerals. And we have chicory root extract for the length of the lashes, we have carnauba oil, we have beeswax for the health of the lashes — everything is with a skin-care benefit mindset, and it’s 96% natural. And there were 45 mascara wands that I had to try, because the wand has to be completely synergistic with the mascara formula. But it feels really rewarding, because you know how much went into it. We’re never just churning out products.”

Connecting with customers in quarantine
“We launched a Clean Beauty Concierge, which has been really incredible for us, because we’re able to assist our customer with guiding them, in terms of things that can feel intimidating, like shade matching. And we want to answer questions around clean beauty — we want to be able to be there, hands-on, as much as we can without being in the same room, and we have phenomenal makeup artists and experts helping us with this. We’re always asking the questions, ‘What, what will help you guys? What do you need from us? How can we make this as nice of an experience as possible?’ We want to move forward with what we can do better and invite our customers in. And people are responding so well to this new platform. We’re getting so incredibly close to our community at this time; we’re really connected to them and we really are listening to them.”