Sitting in a private room at Claridges Hotel in London, you wouldn't know that Bernd Beetz has had a hand in shaping just about every major perfume, fragrance and beauty product around the world in the past ten years. He was in London for the launch of supermodel Kate Moss' lipstick collection. Beetz has been CEO of beauty industry giant Coty for over a decade, and in that time the celebrity fragrance business has blossomed.
There's been a great deal of success particularly in their fragrances, the wealth of celebrities who have chosen to create fragrances have chosen to work with Coty include: Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Lady Gaga. But he's quick to point out that the majority of their fragrance business is actually not celebrity related. The company has been steadily acquiring and working with leading design brands from Calvin Klein to Marc Jacobs.
During his tenure as CEO, business has been mostly good, when asked to describe moments where efforts have failed, he can't think of any. However, Coty was sharply criticized for standing by Kate Moss during her highly publicized cocaine scandal in 2005. Beetz refused to drop her (Coty was, in fact, one of the only companies to not drop Moss). "It takes some guidance and strength, but it's important to withstand the winds of the day," Beetz said looking back on the decision and the pressure Coty was under at the time. Today, as Moss launches her lipstick line, Beetz has no regrets, he believes it was "absolutely the right decision" to stand by Moss. "We started something together," he said of the company and Moss, "so we're going to see that through."
Coty has also received a great deal of attention within the "beauty industry" as innovators in the design and contents of their fragrances. When I asked Beetz what leaders and innovators he most admires, Beetz had only one name, "I think Steve Jobs is the best. What he did with Apple was absolutely unbelievable. The sense of vision he had to drive a company with the design sensibilities of a consumer. He didn't start at a certain point and then gradually move up, he had a vision." I spoke with Beetz weeks before Jobs' death, but it seems that his impact was, is and will be inescapable. Whether the innovation is in the ingredients of a perfume or the design of a phone, innovators of all stripes will forever give him their deepest gratitude.