Simplicity is Empowering
Jenny Patinkin shares her journey through beginning in the beauty industry at 40, creating an environment of female empowerment.
Our Women’s History Month celebration continues on as Magenta talked to Jenny Patinkin, beauty expert, makeup artist, entrepreneur and author of Lazy Perfection, The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying. Jenny’s life rerouted when she turned 40 and entered into the beauty and makeup industry uncharacteristically, following intense volunteer work at a Chicago children’s hospital, after many years as a stay-at-home mom to her three daughters. The experience working outside of the house led her to pursue the working world again–only unsure of what industry to work in. She always enjoyed the makeup and beauty world and helping women feel beautiful. Naturally, a career where she could make both of those things happen with her own business seemed like the perfect fit. Her belief in simplistic beauty differentiates her from others in her field in its celebration of natural beauty. To Jenny, less is more empowering, and she shared her story of starting her own beauty line, the underrepresented areas of beauty and skincare, and advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs and beauty enthusiasts.
How did you get into the beauty industry?
I actually fell into it by accident when I was 40. I had been a stay at home mom for 10 years doing all of the normal volunteering at school. I had been a long time board member at the Chicago Children’s Hospital and decided to take a year-long volunteer position at the hospital. After the year was over, fell in love with it and didn’t want to stop working. After that, I started wondering what I would want to do and began thinking about businesses related to beauty, something I’ve always loved. I met a makeup artist who recognized my passions and ability and she encouraged me to do some training. I did it and got signed by an international agency about three weeks later.
Have you always been interested in beauty and makeup and skincare and everything?
Yes. I mean, I grew up in the eighties, so it was a huge time of experimentation with makeup, especially as a creative outlet. I used to do makeup for my friends and loved it. As we all grew up and had babies, I would have friends reach out to me and say, “you know, promise me that if anything happens to me, you’ll teach my daughter how to put on her eyeshadow.”
What do you feel is important about being a woman in the leadership position for a brand that targets women?
I can be an authentic voice for women. Having come into this at an older age has definitely informed the way that I approach product development, my artistry aesthetic and my perspective on beauty in general. But the biggest thing for me is that women respond to hearing another person who feels the same way that they do about beauty and about aging.
I have never really worked with any men in the beauty industry. I mean, there are some amazingly talented artists out there and plenty of male brand founders in the beauty industry. But for the most part, I work with other women. My colleagues are all women and it is honestly such a supportive community. I’ve never worked retail so I don’t have a sense of that cutthroat side of the business. I’ve also never worked at a big international company in beauty. So, I’m kind of creating my own environment where women can feel empowered.
How have you navigated being a female entrepreneur?
It really comes back down to being a little bit older. 40 is old to start in the beauty business. There was a lot of nonsense that I probably wouldn’t have minded putting up with when I was younger or I wouldn’t have known better. But at 40, I faced a unique set of challenges. Now, I have a more mature perspective on approaching. As a woman my age in business, I’m able to approach things with less fear. I’m not scared of men the same way that I was when I was younger. But, the environment’s different now also.
What about makeup do you feel emulates a new type of design?
The big movement in beauty right now is packaging. That is something that I focus on in a design sense. Packaging is definitely the first reference for the customer. There is a ton happening right now with makeup packaging creativity. I find simplicity with a couple of small details to be the most compelling. I mean, the book that I wrote is called Lazy Perfection for a reason. I am personally drawn to a simpler aesthetic, especially due to the aging element. Dialing back and really embracing that simple aesthetic is more attainable to the real world than some of the more intricate creative looks that we’re seeing. And that’s not to say I don’t like those intricate creative looks–I do and I certainly love to watch them be created.
What do you feel is an underrepresented or overlooked aspect in the beauty industry?
It’s changing as there’s so much more inclusivity across the board, but I certainly think that the conversation regarding the older consumer is not being addressed as locally and aggressively as it could be.
If you could share one thing with any aspiring female entrepreneur or woman looking to get into the beauty industry, what would you tell them?
That ‘no’ doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Not every miss is a failure. Be open to taking risks because one closed door doesn’t mean anything. It’s a huge business and you just got to keep knocking until someone opens. And think broadly. There’s so much more to beauty than meets the eye.
In your eyes, what is the future of beauty?
I think the future of beauty, honestly, is a shift from aspirational to relatable. We’re seeing so much more inclusivity and a broader definition of what beauty means.
Magenta is a publication of Huge.