“Success is not a resting place.”

“Success is not a resting place.”

Bee Shapiro is a girl after our own hearts. She found success as a beauty columnist at the New York Times, but that didn’t stop her looking for more. Adamant she wanted to use her creative prowess to make something tangible and unique, Shapiro set up her ethical fragrance and bodycare line, Ellis Brooklyn almost two years ago. Her ahhhhmazing brand is now stocked at some of the most prestigious beauty stores around the world, including Net-A-Porter, Sephora.com, Barneys New York, and Nordstrom.com. She gave us the scoop on her business and, well, everything else…

What made you decide to launch the brand? 
I was pregnant with my first daughter and I do think having kids changes the way you view the world. Having worked at The Times for years, I  really wanted to be on the creative side of beauty as opposed to just reporting on it. I also wanted to really own my work in a lasting way. As a writer for other publications, your work is published but once it’s out there it’s not a lasting thing that you could pass down.

The hardest part about setting up my own company was…
Getting the cash! As they say, cash is king. I also decided to bootstrap the company as opposed to going out there to pursue investors. If it’s your money you are truly accountable.

The most rewarding part is…
Creating. From working with my perfumer to my creative director on the packaging, seeing a product from start to completion is incredibly satisfying.

“It’s named for my first daughter Ellis and we live in Brooklyn – hence, Ellis Brooklyn”

Ellis-Brooklyn-perfumesThe most surprising beauty tip I’ve learned during my journey has been…
There’s no such thing as a peony note. What we think smells like peony in perfumery is actually a derivation of rose.

My inspiration is…
Patagonia – the company. That’s probably not what you hear from a fragrance brand I suppose, but I want to get to a place where our brand isn’t only about being sustainable. I want to go out there and be active about our mission in a larger way whether it’s partnering with actual locations where our raw materials are coming from to creating a real lasting legacy for our environmental work.

The most important piece of business advice ever given to me was…
As an indie brand, you may not have scale, but you have a very special cool factor. One of my best pieces of advice came from Bobbi Brown. She said to enjoy the indie part of the experience. Enjoy the time that you’re cool. It’s a fleeting and incredibly exciting time.

If I could do one thing over, it’d be…
I would have nailed down our brand deck and investor deck earlier on. These documents take forever to perfect and they really are needed later down the line.

If you haven’t already, you NEED to try our…
Myth eau de parfum. It’s a beautiful feminine musk that I created for myself. I wanted something that was a true skin scent and that invited people closer. Also, particularly because it’s a musk, it changes with each person’s body chemistry.

My hidden talent is….
This is going to sound weird, but I can completely clear my mind on command. My husband always jokes when I’m spacing out that “I’m communicating with the mother ship” (as in aliens).  Actually, this hidden talent was put to the test. We checked out this very cool art exhibition where they hooked up electric nodes to your head and whatever was going on up there would reflect as sounds. I could literally stop and start the music at will—everybody was shocked!

Bee Shapiro Ellis Brooklyn perfumes

The most random Instagram account I follow is
@cashcats. It basically features cats surrounded by money. Genius stuff! 

I don’t leave the house without…
Lip balm. Currently, I like the agave balm from Bite Beauty. I also have one from Ama la that’s quite good.  

The phone app that my survival depends on is
My Kindle phone app. I read all sorts of nonsense when I take the subway. As long as it’s not serious, I can read it while being crammed on the train.

I wish someone told me…
That success is not a resting place. I thought if I get this specific job and then do this specific thing, I would reach this imaginary level of achievement and can just kick back and rest. The truth is it’s always a hustle, just the level of hustle and what’s at stake gets bigger the more you scale.

When I saw my first product come to life, I felt…
A unique sense of pride and satisfaction. It’s something that I had never felt in my professional life. Instead, the feeling brought back memories I had as a kid when I would dream up and complete some art project.

There’s something incredibly youthful about being creative.