TARTE COSMETICS FOUNDER MAUREEN KELLY TALKS LIFE IN FLORIDA AND THE EVER-CHANGING BEAUTY INDUSTRY.
Tarte Shape Tape ultra creamy PHOTO COURTESY OF TARTE COSMETICS
In recent years, we’ve been seeing how more and more people have opted to improve their quality of life and prioritize their mental health by changing their surroundings. One such individual is former New York-based Tarte Cosmetics (@tartecosmetics) founder Maureen Kelly, who now resides in the Florida Keys. A visionary in the beauty industry, Kelly shared with CNBC earlier this year that she “started [her] company on credit cards and a dream”; Tarte has since become one of the most recognizable and beloved cosmetic brands in the industry. Kelly shares with us more on her life in Florida and what she loves about her home, the changing beauty industry and what it looks like to start your own business.
Tarte Cosmetics seeks to empower women all over the world with confidence in themselves. PHOTO BY MATHILDE LANGEVIN/UNSPLASH
Tell us about your move to the Keys. What prompted the change and how has your adjustment been?
We were tired of the weather in New York and wanted to get out of the hustle and bustle of New York so we could have more family time. My husband is from the South and has always wanted to raise our family where we can spend quality time doing outdoor activities like boating, fishing and kiteboarding. When I moved to the Keys in August 2016, I thought the adjustment would be tough, but everyone was so warm and welcoming. When I need a city fix, I head to the Design District in Miami for shopping and dinner.
What are your favorite parts about living in Florida?
I love sitting on my dock in the morning, taking in the fresh air and having coffee after the kids leave for school. Having the water in our backyard is a lovely perk— it’s like paradise all year round. I paddleboard to decompress after a stressful day at the office.
Tarte Maracuja Juicy Lip family PHOTO COURTESY OF TARTE COSMETICS
How has the beauty industry evolved over the course of your career?
The focus has moved from magazines to social media. The industry moved away from overly retouched and artificial beauty to all about being real and authentic, which is what Tarte has stood for since day one.
What was the scariest part about branching out to launch your own business?
I wasn’t a makeup artist and didn’t have business experience. When I decided to leave the PhD program at Columbia, it was a huge leap of faith, but I wanted to build a makeup brand that celebrated and empowered women and gave them the confidence to express themselves. That’s why I have never used models—I use real women that are employees, friends and friends of friends in our campaigns. It’s all shapes and sizes, skin tones and beauty boundaries. Beauty is a male-dominated industry and there I was—a 25-year-old girl with insecurities being told I couldn’t do it. Now, here we are 23 years later with an all-female executive team! We’re the No. 1 concealer brand and creating TikTok viral products like Maracuja Juicy Lip Plump.
Tarte Cosmetics founder Maureen Kelly PHOTO COURTESY OF TARTE COSMETICS
What has been the most rewarding element of your business?
Giving back. Five years ago, Hurricane Irma hit my home and most of Florida hard. We started a major fundraising effort called Storm of Love where we helped rebuild the community. After that, I founded Heart to Tarte, our 501(c) (3) organization that supports causes close to us and our Tartelettes’ hearts. I love lifting other women up and have donated $150,000 in small-business awards for female entrepreneurs. I definitely had women give me a hand along the way, so I wanted to do that for other female entrepreneurs.
What makes Tarte so unique?
I’m involved in the day-today business—from product development to 360 launch plans and everything in between, I love ideating with my team! We operate more like a startup, which allows us to act fast. If someone on my teams wants to test something, we do it. If they have a new idea for a product, we make it. Most of all, we are one big passionate family.
Photography by: Photo Courtesy: Tarte Cosmetics