Featuring Guest Guru, Napoleon Perdis, Founder of Napoleon Perdis Cosmetics
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April 2011 - Featuring Guest Guru, Napoleon Perdis
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  Guest Guru
Napoleon Perdis, Founder of Napoleon Perdis Cosmetics

Q: What initially inspired you to become a makeup artist? We hear you were on track to becoming a lawyer.
A: I did an arts/law program at Macquarie University and I worked for a time as a barrister's assistant so yes, I was on track to becoming a lawyer. But my true passion was makeup: I have always had a strong creative spirit and a need to express that spirit. Makeup tells a story and empowers women to play with color, and that was what inspired me to become a makeup artist and start my own brand.

Q: When you set out to build your brand, what was your vision?
A: One of my earliest jobs was doing makeup for brides. It is still one of the most intimate experiences you can have as an artist; you're with a woman on the most important day of her life. I loved it and when it came time to launch my own collection, I wanted everyone using my makeup to feel as special as a bride on her wedding day. I was also very passionate about the need to democratize makeup by making it accessible to women of all ages and skin tones and that still remains today.
Q: You launched your brand in Australia (your home country) and then brought it to the U.S. -- why did you decide to do that?
A: While my brand was born in Australia and carries that very quintessentially Australian spirit, I'm based in Hollywood and have lived full-time in the U.S. for almost six years. I brought my company stateside because I wanted to expand globally and since I opened up shop in Los Angeles in 2007, I've worked non-stop to establish myself and my brand in the U.S.

Q: What's the smartest business decision you've ever made? Why?
A: Partnering with Target on my NP Set brand and opening the Hollywood Makeup Academy and Concept Store. It gave me an entry into the U.S. beauty market and served as the perfect launch pad for Napoleon Perdis.

Q: Speaking of NP Set, how did you get that deal in the first place? And what made you choose Target as a partner?
A: With NP Set, it's always been about high-speed, on-the-go glamour. I was attracted to Target because of their hugely successful design collaborations. No one can resist a well-designed bargain, and Target, more so than any other retailer, has been especially adept at democratizing style for all. Target approached me about the possibility in 2007 and we launched the line 2008. From the get-go, the collection has been paraben-free with organic benefits listed under the tagline "What's In It for Me." It's just as fashion-conscious as the prestige line with edgy products.

Q: In addition to having two cosmetic lines, you also have beauty academies. Why is education so important to you?
A: What sets the Academy apart from the rest is me. Education is such a crucial part of my company -- it's the framework of the business and the brand and all of my products stress education with pro-tips. The Makeup Academies teach my makeup philosophy, honed over the last 20 years. We consider our Academy a dynamic learning institution with courses for novices or aspiring professionals. You can come in for a one-day course and learn how to apply foundation, or take an intensive diploma and train for a career in makeup. It's all about options, creating choices and delivering the best educational and creative experience money can buy.

Q: What advice would you give to a makeup artist who's just starting out today?
A: Being a great makeup artist is about really connecting with your clients -- more than just the application of great makeup, it's about enhancing her natural beauty and teaching her how to achieve that look on her own. I think many artists today get sidetracked with tricky trends and looks that may speak to the latest looks in fashion yet do women no favors.

Q: Which Napoleon Perdis products are bestsellers here? And what about in Australia?
A: Surprisingly enough, it's actually the same in both continents. My Auto Pilot Pre Foundation Skin Primer, Camera Finish Powder Foundation and Long Black Mascara are the top sellers. Australian women always want to achieve that fresh-faced, low-fi beauty while Americans generally love a more glamorous look. But I've found that each state within Australia and the U.S. has its distinctions. California girls love a flirty pink lipstick, while Sydney chicks don't go anywhere without their bronzer.

Q: If you could choose three products from your lines that every woman should own, which would they be?
A: 1. My Auto Pilot Pre Foundation Skin Primer because not to prime is a crime! It's been my career-long mantra and it helps finesse your foundation, helping your skin to stay flawless for longer. 2. Camera Finish Powder Foundation, a 3-in-1 formula that lets you conceal, cover and set and it's perfect for quick touch ups. I've just revamped it with new ingredients and upped the shade range, and it's set to debut this September. 3. Long Black Mascara, it was my first mascara and it truly is a cult product. Plus, the beeswax and candelilla wax ingredients work to really condition and lengthen your lashes and guarantee ultra-long lashes.

Q: What's the biggest mistake you see women make when it comes to makeup?
A: Wearing the wrong shade or texture of foundation -- it's my number one beauty faux pas. You need to keep up with your foundation as the seasons change since your skin tone has the tendency to fluctuate as the temps go up and down.

Q: What do you do for fun? You seem to be very busy with two brands, the academies and working as a makeup artist.
A: I'll spend time with my wife Soula-Marie and our four daughters. My favorite thing to do is to jump into the car and head out to our home in Palm Springs on the weekends. It's my sanctuary and the only place where I truly relax.

Q: What's next for the Napoleon Perdis or NP Set lines?
A: For Napoleon Perdis, I'm launching Bronze Patrol and Blush Patrol, a baked powder bronzer and blush palette in May, followed by the debut of my mineral makeup line in June. It's taken me years to develop and perfect, and the ingredients and formulations provide a truly flawless coverage. For NP Set, we just launched a beautiful, 4-piece skin care line this month and the fab It Takes Two Concealer & Foundation Pot. We're also gearing up for the holiday collections. And now I've said too much!

Q: So, if you could do it all over again, would you have gone the lawyer route instead?
A: Absolutely not!
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