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The New York Times writer Bee Shapiro on launching Ellis Brooklyn

January 1 | 3 minute read

Bee Shapiro Ellis Brooklyn Founder Interview Hero 16x9

Words by Romy Erdos

Originally published on | May 19

If you want the 411 on microblading, or the exact illuminator Kerry Washington wore to the Emmys (Hourglass Ambient Lighting, in case you were wondering) then ask Bee Shapiro.

As a beauty columnist for The New York Times, she’s interviewed celebrities from Drew Barrymore to Kim Kardashian and met the best in Hollywood’s beauty business. Shapiro is a bona fide encyclopedia of knowledge but the one thing she wasn’t seeing landing on her desk? Fragrances made without ingredients like parabens (chemical preservatives) and phthalates (homogenising agents).

So she set out to create her own signature scents focused on plant-derived ingredients, sustainability and responsible sourcing. With The New York Times’ reader as her sounding board and Jerome Epinette (who also collaborates with Byredo) as her perfumer, her label Ellis Brooklyn was born.

Shapiro sat down with The Memo to talk fragrance and the best celebrity tip she has ever tried.

Bee Shapiro Ellis Brooklyn Founder Interview 11x4 1

TMM: As a writer you’ve come face to face with so many beauty products, why create your own?

BS: "I'm a lover of fragrance and the one thing I saw that really wasn't changing as far as innovation and technology goes was fragrance. The rest of the industry was going paraben-free, skincare was going phthalate-free but none of the fragrances were trying to do that. It just wasn't up to date. The idea blossomed and I thought 'if I'm going to do this, then I’m going to do it by being true to myself."

Jerome Epinette is the perfumer behind your fragrances, how did this relationship come about?

"When I started out, I thought 'I'm a beauty reporter for The New York Times. I should be able to go out there and connect with some of the top perfumers.' Literally no-one returned my calls. I had to ask for a favour from someone in the beauty industry and that was how I got my introduction to Jerome. The second I met him, I was like 'this is perfect.' Not only does he do beautiful work but he's very modern – also, he was game."
If I’m going to do this, then I’m going to do it by being true to myself.
Bee Shapiro

Your small-batch formulas are made in New York. How does the city inspire the brand?

"I think it's everything. Brooklyn right now is the place in New York. It informs so much culture. I think Myth EDP, which I created for myself, is a New York scent. It stays close to your skin and invites people in. It doesn't project out. It’s soft and feminine but still modern. It’s the perfect crowded city scent."

Having interviewed almost every major celebrity and beauty expert about their routine, what is one of the best tips you’ve heard?

"This one I just tried myself. I once interviewed Nicole Richie and when she flies she sticks Papaw ointment (we like kit: Wonder Balm) up her nose because she swears it blocks away the germs and keeps the inside of your nose from drying out. I actually think for long flights, like coming from New York to Australia, it helps because your nose can get really dry."

What are some of the biggest trends you’re seeing in the industry right now?

"Metallics are really big. One trend I'm seeing right now is ‘lip highlighting’ which is basically metallic for your lips. Instead of applying it all over, you would put a metallic lipstick on and blot it so it has a light three-dimensional effect. 3D is a constant thing I’m hearing."

Related topics and brand tags

Ellis BrooklynBYREDOkit:FragrancePerfume

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