It was a typical fashion store opening. A stunning blond teetering on the latest wacky Marc Jacobs wacky heels to my left, a sighting of the new Balenciaga bag at 12:00, and behind me -- my favorite part of any event -- the space from which the waiters emerge with hors d'oeuvres. And this particular soiree was stocked with the best beggar's purses and salmon croquettes.
Hunger or not, I have never been the one to pass up a good beggar's purse and after 20 minutes of making sure that every server knew to circle by me before the rest of the crowd, I looked at my husband and said, "I have to go." I had ring around the waist -- the red line that forms around your belly after you eat so much that your waistband suddenly feel one size too small.
He was kind of annoyed. We were barely there for a half an hour.
"If my lipgloss could plump my lips and not my hips, we wouldn't have this problem," I sniffed.
OMG! My Eureka moment!
Lipgloss with plumper AND appetite suppressant!
That would be my dream product, I told him. "I'd call it Huge Lips Skinny Hips," I said, all excited about my vision.
I grabbed my cell phone to call a friend who was CEO for a major beauty brand. I wanted her to make it so I could buy it.
Todd, my husband, grabbed my phone, mid-dial.
"You make it," he said, totally assuredly. "You start a company and sell it! Your whole career has been leading up to this! You need a brand!"
I had no idea how to make a product or a thing about manufacturing. But why couldn't I figure it out, I thought.
Before I go on, let's back up for a minute.
The Cliff's Notes version: I was a journalist for over ten years. I got my start at WWD (first job out of college where I was handing out mail, fetching coffee, filing, and faxing -- this before email was an integrated part of our everyday culture, which kind of dates me, I must say). I worked there for 3-plus years before going freelance, when I started writing for all the women's magazines -- Marie Claire, Elle, Bazaar, InStyle, Glamour, etc. -- and the New York Times Sunday Styles section as well as the New York Post.
It was amazing fun -- I covered everything frivolous and fabulous, from celebrity soirees on private yachts in St. Barths to going undercover as a phone sex operator to the Sundance Film festival parties to cover stories on the stars (I spent a day with Molly Sims who had to see what kind of things she could talk people into doing for her -- like drop their pants and build a pyramid on the beach and put her on top) to all the trends/beauty/fashion/ pieces I could get my mitts on.
It was definitely a crazy ride (one time on the back of a scooter while Liev Schreiber was driving -- I swear!).
Then I got an assignment from Marie Claire that wound up being the catalyst for a major career shift. The mission: become famous in two weeks. My friend and now best selling author Melissa de la Cruz (shout out to Mel -- www.melissa-delacruz.com!) did the story with me and for two weeks, we schemed our way on to gossip columns (WWD actually called me K.Ro after Harry Winston loaned me $2 million of rocks, I kid you not!), faked our way into free clothes (borrowed glamour -- nothing like it especially when the label is Dior!), and pretended we were girls from Planet "It" (the major lesson I learned: make your name match your brand of celebrity stardom... Karen von Robin is a lot more believable to the media as an heiress than Karen Robinovitz, which sounds more like I'm a rabbi's daughter when in fact, I'm a car dealer's daughter).
We got a call from our agent the minute the piece hit newsstands. "Write a book proposal now! How to become FAMOUS in two weeks or less." When you get a call like that, you can only say one thing: YES!
Call it timing, luck, whatever but we had a book deal two weeks later! That wasn't the part that changed my life, though it was beyond exciting and amazing to write with a friend. It was the aftermath...
Three months before launch -- BTW, those horrible sunglasses on the cover were airbrushed on us! -- we received our long-awaited "marketing plan." I put it in quotes because the only initiative was "put book on Hampton Jitney." Marketing plan? That's not even a full sentence! When I asked where the rest of the plan was, our publisher told is there was no "rest of the plan." That was it! That was all they would do!
I became a marketing machine. I didn't really know what I was doing but I called every PR contact I had to see what kind of strategic partnerships I could create. When it was all said and done, I was signing books by kissing them with MAC lipstick (they offered makeovers at all of our readings and events), promoting Rock & Republic jeans which had hangtags about our book, working with AOL (shout out to AOL! Woo hoo!), sitting pretty in the back of a Bentley (we did interviews in the vehicle -- how hot is that?), and, um, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie hosted our LA soiree!
That was when my life changed...
I am a marketing person!
I started consulting for brands -- showing them how to become famous in two weeks or less -- and doing all kinds of programs: events, influencer seeding (i.e. giving products to the rich and fabulous to get it in the "right" hands), guerilla marketing (did something awesome for Glam.com where we had hot guys in branded BMWs circling fashion week and handing out Glam branded gumballs, amongst other things), social media programs (Love you, Twitter! BTW, follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/karenrobinvoitz. Shameless plug, I know!).
I didn't stop writing though -- Melissa and I co-authored Fashionista Files! Adventures in four-inch heels and faux pas (Michael Kors and Diane von Furstenberg gave us props for our cover!) and I wrote a book for the PR behemoth Harrison & Shriftman: "Fete Accompli! The Ultimate Guide to Creative Entertaining."
I did some TV along the way -- things like the Fabulous Life on VH-1 and MTV's Made. I even shot a pilot about my life for BRAVO, but it wasn't picked up. Still, I have a great DVD for the future grandchildren... if DVDs are still in existence, that is.
I get a little -- I don't know -- uncomfortable talking about things I've done but for more deets and to see the hint of the pilot, you can check it out on my site.
So that brings us back to my hubby, telling me to make the product.
And that is what Beauty Blab will be about...
The making of a beauty brand.
Think of it like a guide to getting a product made. I'll tell you all the dirty secrets I learn from labs and manufacturers and what we go through to line up distribution, financing, PR, etc. Every trial. Every tribulation. Every success. It will all be here, along with other glittery details I may have to share along the way... like my poledancing classes, Minx manicure parties (www.stylelist.com blogged about it recently!), celebrity sightings (I spot many in my neighborhood -- West Village of NYC), and fashion moments (I tend to be a very good shopper!).
Next week... the first steps of getting a product made!
So read, share, tell me what you want to know or hear about, too!
I am an open book!
Purple Lab Creatrix