Violette Serrat, the mostly mononymous makeup artist behind the brand Violette FR, decided to become a makeup artist as the result of a costume party. She put some glitter on a friend’s face for the event, and inspiration struck.
After pounding the pavement doing various makeup jobs, in 2011, she was discovered by Vogue France, which helped to kickstart her career. Since then, she has worked with the biggest beauty brands in the world. She’s been a product development consultant for Sephora, an ambassador for La Mer and global beauty director of Estée Lauder. She is currently Guerlain’s global creative director for makeup.
In 2021, she launched her namesake brand, with a small assortment of makeup products, skin-care products, a dry shampoo and a fragrance. Since then, she has continued to build the brand across categories, despite the fact that she built her career on makeup.
Violette joined the Glossy Beauty Podcast to discuss her brand’s roots, evolution and future. The excerpts from the conversation, below, have been slightly edited and condensed for clarity.
On creating products that respect the skin’s barrier
“I would say 98% of the skin I’ve touched has some sort of inflammation, which is normal. It could be a skin barrier completely damaged, or acne or redness — anything. And I have this model in front of me, and I have to create this makeup. For some of the [projects], there won’t even be retouching because they’re videos, and I have to create the look very quickly. And it’s focused on beauty. So it’s on me. And sometimes, the skin barrier will be so damaged that no foundation is grabbing onto the skin. It’s sliding. … So I thought, ‘How can we create a product that will heal the skin immediately and help makeup?’ Right away, that became a dream of mine. And at the same time, when I started to work on the brand’s DNA and my brand pillars, I thought, ‘I’m here to complete, I’m not here to compete.’ So I’m not going to do whatever exists already on the market. … So we’re not going to do foundation. But we’re going to do skin care to help you heal your skin. And that works really well for us because, at the end of the day, my message is, ‘I’m creating color for you to celebrate yourself and really have fun. And I’m creating skin care and hair care for you to take care of what Mother Nature gave you.'”
On taking time to launch the brand
“I was not in a rush. I knew that when I launched my brand, I would have one shot — it’s my name on it. If this doesn’t work, I’ll do something else, but not [another brand]. And I really wanted to express myself on the creative side, do more research in product development and keep learning from brands I work with — because that’s the most incredible training I’ve ever had. And because I was not in a rush, I knew I’d keep [working for brands] for the experience until I felt like, ‘It’s OK, now is the time to [focus on mine].’ And so I waited for a while — like, 15 full years working in the industry — before doing my own brand. I think not being in a rush is a big key.”
On the brand’s future
“My goal for the brand is for it to be able to develop without losing its soul and DNA — that’s a big challenge for us. I always say, ‘I want to create a niche brand with a global reach.’ And I think by ‘niche,’ I mean authenticity, closeness and intimacy with our customer. And I want to grow, of course, but I say that I’d rather take the stairs than the elevator. That’s because I want to build a modern maison — something that’s here to stay, with a designer behind it. I want to expand to things you don’t expect me to do. So we have a few things coming in a few months that I’m very excited about. I always want to surprise you and help you feel good about yourself. That philosophy is very anchored in the brand.”