ANDREA KISSANE meets renowned make-up artist and businesswoman Trish McEvoy to talk about the secrets behind her global success, and the power of putting your best face forward.
“Doing what I love and being lucky.” This is the answer that Trish McEvoy considers and gives when I ask her what she believes to be the secret behind the phenomenal and global success of her eponymous beauty brand. For the past 40 years, McEvoy has been making women feel better about themselves and counts stars like Angelina Jolie, Judi Dench and Madonna as fans of her cult cosmetics brand.
Born in Dublin, she moved to Berlin at the age of six to live with her grandmother, and it was in the perfumeries where her grandmother worked that she discovered her love for cosmetics. Having spotted a gap in the market, McEvoy went on to launch her first product in 1975. She noticed that there were no professional make-up brushes available for sale, and so she created brushes to blend foundation and eyeshadow. All the top make-up artists were soon coming to her to purchase the products, and this was the platform from which her world-famous business would flourish.
“I knew I was independent, I knew I had enough skill sets to start the business,” she says, and having worked in marketing, product development and training, she was well placed to oversee every area of her brand. And she went on to revolutionise the way that women use make-up.
It is the Make-up Planner System for which the brand is best known. These leather bound planners are effectively “pages” filled with blush and eye shadow, along with slim pockets filled with make-up essentials. These bestsellers showcase her pared-back approach to beauty, choosing the essentials to create that natural look. The inspiration for this low-maintenance beauty hack came to her when she was holidaying in Italy, sighing over the plethora of beauty products strewn across her dressing table, and beside them, her neat little Filofax. It’s as simple yet creative an idea as attaching wheels to suitcases, but it was a lightbulb moment for the cosmetics industry.
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It’s not about having time. It’s about making time.
Natural beauty is the niche of Trish McEvoy. She advocates “morning minutes” for each woman, where she locks the door and takes a few moments to apply her make-up each day. “Women are under pressure,” says McEvoy. “How you see yourself, how you conduct yourself, your actions – these are very important.”
These minutes, she says, “can be manna for the soul” and lead to what she calls the “beauty cascade”, the ripple effect of both looking and feeling your best.
Her business continues to go from strength to strength, expanding their offerings and keeping a focus on innovation. “I always did what I loved, I never found it difficult,” she says, “but that’s not to say that it has been all plain sailing.” With a range that covers make-up, skincare, fragrance and home, the Trish McEvoy brand has developed a reputation for being trans-generational. Trish’s ethos is to work to build confidence in both young and mature women, to make everyone feel comfortable with make-up, to understand the power of beauty confidence.
I wonder if it is difficult to be both the face and founder of a brand, if it is a challenge to retain the authenticity and enthusiasm of that 25-year-old who set up the business over four decades ago. The key to staying true to brand, she tells me, is “to have good habits and to stay with those habits”. She believes that it’s essential to put oneself in one’s craft and that “what we do with our lives is who we are”. It’s evident that Trish McEvoy lives and breathes her brand.
And it’s also clear that the team of people with whom she surrounds herself in her company is another reason for this success story. Her enthusiasm, energy and effervescence are woven through the very DNA of the company, but it’s her efficiency and her directness that keeps everyone on the same page. She refers to those close to her as “her community” and says that “it’s important to pick your community carefully – your mate, your best friends, who you pick to be on your team. For me, there is no work and private life – it’s all your life.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of IMAGE magazine. For more beauty features, check out the June issue of IMAGE, on shelves now.