Susan Posnick has been in the beauty business since the days of perms and Pretty in Pink. Suffice to say, a lot has changed – and she’s been lucky enough to be part of it all. Now she’s filling us in on why she got started, why she stuck around, and what’s next for Susan Posnick Cosmetics.

Susan Posnick, CEO

Susan Posnick, CEO

Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and grew up.

I grew up in a big town (small city) in Massachusetts, in a happy home with loving parents and three siblings. I lived in one house, with pretty much the same friends and neighbors through all my formative years, which I believe helped me develop a strong sense of security and become somewhat grounded. From a young age, however, I had a strong sense of curiosity and knew that I would venture out into the world to make my mark.

When did you first get started in the beauty business? What drew you to it?

I guess in high school I knew that I wanted to be in the world of fashion and beauty. As my family remembers, I was the one who hogged the bathroom – my hair and makeup always needing to be perfect! I paid meticulous attention to whatever I wore. Being fashion forward (which sometimes did not sit well with my school principle) just seemed to come naturally. I did a bit of modeling back then as well and enjoyed doing makeup for my friends and for school productions.

Looking back, what moments or skills made you stand out and become so successful in your career?

If you are referring to my career as a makeup artist, I think besides being given a God given talent for makeup, I had a great passion for what I did and it was evident to those I worked with. In addition I have always been rather persistent, believing that if I learned my craft well, the work would follow – and it did. Of course, having a mentor who was a well-known photographer in NYC didn’t hurt either.

You worked with some celebrities and supermodels in the past, like Diane Lane and Cindy Crawford. What was it like working with them?

One of the first things I learned when doing makeup was to always ask each celebrity if there was anything specific they always wanted done with their makeup. Everyone has something about their face that they like tweaked. Whether it’s making the eyes look wide-set, or straightening a slightly crooked nose, they all know their faces well. I think asking that question in the beginning made them feel secure in my hands.

Why did you make the switch from makeup artist to a creator of cosmetics?

Passion and the desire to make a difference. I never imagined doing anything else but makeup, but in 1998 I got skin cancer on my face. I was allergic to chemical sunscreens and never liked the feel of foundation and powder on my face. I decided to see if I could create a portable foundation that offered sun protection at the same time, possibly saving someone else from skin cancer.

What did you learn working as a makeup artist?

I learned how powerful it can be when a woman feels beautiful on the outside. With that confidence, what’s inside also shines. As Mary Kay’s personal makeup artist for so many years, I also learned a great deal with regard to business ethics, and the importance of empowering women.