This article originally appeared in the June print issue of LOCALE Magazine.
CEO Katherine Finch Empowers Girls and Looks Great While Doing It
Expert: Katherine Finch
Credentials: Founder and CEO at Katherine Cosmetics
After 23 years of working at Estee Lauder (as VP of Sales and Marketing of North America, might we add), Katherine “Annie” Finch took two years off work. During this time, she rode horses, went to yoga and spin classes and spent time with friends—and realized there wasn’t makeup for any of these activities that fit her on-the-go needs. So, the girl boss took matters into her own hands, creating Katherine Cosmetics, a line to empower women to feel pretty and confident. Since launching, Katherine Cosmetics has evolved into lifestyle brand with an avid affiliate program, Katherine Girls, who take over social media in support of the revolutionary makeup. Katherine’s go-to products for LOCALE readers? Eyeliner and the WOW Stick (bonus: no animal testing!).
Q: Tell me how you got started in the cosmetics industry. Did you know you wanted a career in this?
Katherine Finch: Growing up, I owned every shade of eyeshadow from Elizabeth Arden. I’ve always worn a ton of makeup, but didn’t understand the industry. When I was in college, I started selling makeup and told my mom I was going to get a career in the industry when I graduated. Estee Lauder finally hired me, and I worked at counters, eventually becoming a regional executive. When I moved to NYC, I ran sales, marketing, product development and special events! I was the fix-it girl in the corner office. Every time a general manager came from another country, I trained them. I got to run the world for a billion dollar brand! When I was ready to launch Katherine Cosmetics, I went back to Estee Lauder to thank them for everything. They’re a force in the industry and to have their knowledge, talent, skills and connections is amazing.
Q: What’s the story behind Katherine Cosmetics? What differentiates the brand?
KF: I got married and continued to ride horses. I needed makeup with SPF, but I was searching for products that I couldn’t find. I decided to make the products I wanted. People told me that women didn’t wear makeup when they worked out, but I was the first one to talk about girls wearing makeup while wearing workout clothes. So, I created an everyday line and a sport line. I just added a new date night line too—whether it’s for prom, your wedding or your Tinder date.
Knowing that I was putting my name on my own products, I knew it needed to be good for you. I worked with my chemist to take all the bad chemicals out, but simultaneously put the good stuff in. I wanted arnica, vitamin B, vitamin C and everything else to be put in there! You get an incredible quality of product.
Q: Tell me a little bit about Katherine Cosmetics’ affiliation with charity.
KF: We have a lipstick line inspired by my friends and mother. My friends are all wonderful people who give back, so each time a shade is sold, that friend’s charity is given $1. Each November, we also do the Katherine Girls giving back week. Katherine Girls pick a charity and for a week, 20 percent of everything sold goes to those charities. Most Katherine Girls are younger (15-30). It shows them how they can make a difference.
Q: Who are your ideal consumers? How do you want them to feel wearing these products?
KF: The products were made for myself—line filling and moisturizing. Because of the quality and colors, young girls are loving them when they first see them on social media. Younger girls will find the brand, and moms end up borrowing it from their daughters! Our approach is wearing makeup so you feel confident and pretty. If you feel pretty, you’re confident. When you’re confident, you can accomplish so much more—whether it’s pushing harder in spin class, going for a job interview or saving the puppies!
Q: How do you want Katherine Cosmetics to shape the beauty and cosmetics industry?
KF: I don’t know if I want to shape the industry. I set out to shape people to feel better. I am set on making makeup to inspire people. I don’t know if I will change the beauty industry, but I want to change people’s perception of beauty. I want people to do what makes you feel better. I don’t want to tell them what they should wear—there’s not a ‘right way.’
Q: What inspires you?
KF: Growth and people who have passion for something inspire me. Authenticity is what really inspires me. I love to see someone who believes in what they are doing.
Q: What advice can you give girls and women as a female leader in the industry?
KF: Do what inspires you! Find out who you are, and what your fashion is. My other piece of advice is: makeup isn’t cutting hair. I think a lot of people are intimidated by makeup, but just play and practice! If you’re cutting hair, it’s scary and permanent. You can wipe off makeup and try again!