Ever heard the phrase ‘je ne sais quoi’? We think the term was invented to describe French makeup artist Violette.
Appointed Estée Lauder’s global beauty director in 2017, this Parisian-turned-New Yorker is all talent, no ego. When she’s not creating new products for Estée Lauder, you’ll find Violette painting the faces of your favourite celebrities (think: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) or filming for her YouTube channel. Here, the 31-year-old creative talks about trusting her instincts, finding balance as a working mother and why she’s proud to be a French cliché.
Gritty Pretty: You’re a woman of many talents (and job titles!). What has been the best and hardest thing about your role as global beauty director of Estée Lauder? And how do you balance this full-time gig with being a creator in your own right?
Violette: As a creative, the hardest thing is to have money in order to create content but to simultaneously ‘forget’ about the money when it comes to making decisions on which brands to work with, so your voice can still be genuine. To help with this, I only work with brands I love, share products I love and only do what is 100 per cent sincere to me. Even with Estée, I had told them at the beginning that I only wanted to talk about what I love and they have never pushed me to support a product that I didn’t truly adore. So, authenticity – it’s the hardest but the best thing at the same time.
GP: How would you describe your role at Estée Lauder to someone who is unfamiliar with how the beauty industry operates?
V: My role at Estée Lauder has stayed relatively the same over the years in that it is always different. I get to do a lot of exciting things. My first focus is always to create very strong products that are as good as having a makeup artist in your bathroom, so you don’t have to overthink it. Now I am also creating content and tutorials for women that will help them apply the makeup. My greatest role is to make [women] feel more empowered so they can break free from the standardised beauty rules.
GP: What has been the biggest learning curve of your career so far?
V: To expand and be open. Five years ago, I felt a real shift in the industry. YouTube wasn’t really cool in the fashion industry yet but I was finding that the more I was posting my looks on social media, the more women would ask me how I achieved those looks. From there I started to do collaborations with fashion brands, becoming more of an ‘influencer’ which was not common as a makeup artist in the fashion industry. It’s important to embrace shifts, or learning curves, in a really sincere way. You have to trust your instincts.
GP: Now that you are a (relatively) new mother to your beautiful daughter Inès, how do you balance life as a working mother?
V: One thing that’s true is that once you give birth, you’re so much more productive! Once you have kids, you have so much less time that you just try to jam everything you can into one day. I’d also say choosing a ‘switch-off’ time and sticking to it has helped me. Every day at 5:30pm exactly I stop my work and focus on my daughter until she goes to bed, then I focus on my partner and myself. I also have one day a week where I don’t work, and the weekends, so I try to maximise family time.
GP: Where do you find your inspiration?
V: I’m inspired by all women. Everywhere I go. Always. The ’60s and ’70s are also a huge era of inspiration for me. My fine arts background opened my eyes to really be inspired by everything. Women, nature, things on the wall – it’s being trained to have your eyes open and alert.
Want more? Continue reading this interview in the Winter 2020 issue of Gritty Pretty Magazine.