When there’s a big life event (weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, milestone birthdays, headshots, etc.), Essie Cohen is probably there. A Katonah-based makeup artist whose business has grown exponentially over the past several years, Cohen now has a whole team of artists to help her fulfill all the requests from women and girls in the area. In addition to making her clients look beautiful on special occasions, she also offers makeup lessons (for girls and women) and works on photoshoots. To top it off, she recently launched her own make up line, Essie Cohen Makeup. Cohen kindly gave us a few minutes of her time between appointments to chat with us about her new line and give us moms of teens who wear A LOT of makeup a bit of advice.
Katonah Connect: How long have you been working on your makeup line?
Essie Cohen: It’s something I always wanted to do down the line, but I began testing different companies during the last year and found the company I wanted to work with. I began launching products slowly in May, starting with lip products first. Now I’ve expanded to include almost everything.
KC: What motivated you to start your own line?
EC: As a makeup artist, I don’t want to only use my own brand, but I do want to have something that clients can purchase, because people often ask me if they can buy the products I’ve used. But I’m not a walking store, so I always have to say no. But now I can point them to my website.
KC: Girl Boss, Tickled Pink, Skinny Dip, Moonshine – I love the names! And I also love the variety. How did you decide on these colors?
EC: I really wanted to choose colors that would work with just about everyone, and I wanted colors for all different styles, vibes, seasons and trends. Essentially, I really wanted everyone to feel like they had something. Plus, I wanted most people to feel like they could connect with the line, whether they’re a product junkie or a minimalist.
KC: Why should someone buy your makeup over another line?
EC: All my products are fragrance free, and most of them are also vegan and gluten free. One of my priorities was to make products that people with allergies or sensitivities could safely use.
KC: I understand the fragrance free and vegan concepts, but gluten free? Are people eating your makeup?
EC: People with a high sensitivity to gluten can have trouble with makeup, especially lip products. Because, in a sense, they consume some of it if they’re licking their lips. And some people can get skin irritations from gluten. It’s the same reason I made my products vegan. I have a client that is allergic to beeswax, which is in a lot of lip products, but not in vegan ones because it’s an animal byproduct.
KC: Wow! I never knew gluten was found in makeup.
EC: Yeah, it can be. You’ll see barley extract or wheat or oat extracts. Oat, for instance, is very soothing on the skin, which most of us remember from when we had the chickenpox as a kid. But if someone’s allergic to gluten, then oat products wouldn’t be so good for them.
KC: What are your best sellers so far?
EC: Girl boss lip gloss, Burlesque lipstick, South Beach bronzer and Naked lip liner (pictured above). We’ve already sold out of a lot of our products, especially our foundations, but more are coming soon.
KC: Were you surprised that the foundations sold out so quickly?
EC: Not really. I’m known for choosing good products, so there’s a trust factor. I think people trust that I’m not going to put my name on something unless I believe in it and know it’s good.
KC: Who are your current customers? Are they mostly local?
EC: Yes, it’s mostly been current clients. I hope to eventually get to the point where other people are purchasing my makeup – I’m just not quite there yet. But I look at it as Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it’s okay to start small. My first goal is to get a great cult following with my current clientele, which is expansive, and then eventually branch out.
KC: Do you eventually want to be in retail stores?
EC: Not really. I would prefer to sell my products online. I think there’s so much stuff out there, and my favorite part about this is connecting with the clients, and I would lose a little bit of that control. Having worked for big corporations that were sold all over the world, I know it’s hard to control the authenticity and the client experience, the bigger and bigger you get. I’m okay with not being ginormous and instead doing something well on a smaller scale.
KC: Define the Essie Cohen style.
EC: Natural beauty enhancement. We’re not here to transform you, we’re here to make you feel like the best version of yourself. We want you to feel that you’re not having to change who you are, and you’re comfortable in your vibe. Whether your vibe is minimalist, natural, trendsetting, whatever your vibe is – we want to adapt to that vibe and bring it out and make you feel the best version of yourself.
KC: What advice can you give parents whose daughters wear a lot of makeup?
EC: Maybe your teen doesn’t fit into the mold of team sports and all that stuff, that’s okay. That was me growing up. Try to see that makeup is actually an art form. It’s a talent. Instead of thinking, ‘Oh, my kid is trying to look older,’ understand and appreciate that there’s actually an artistry behind it. It’s another form of self-expression.
KC: Right, artistry. I’ll try to remember that when she comes downstairs with cat eyes at seven in the morning… thanks, Essie!
Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor in chief/co-publisher of Katonah Connect. She says she’s living the dream she never knew she had. Gia enjoys telling people’s stories, laughing at her crazy dog and a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.