Her resume includes development and engineering roles at Estée Lauder (Stila, Prescriptives, and Lab Series), LVMH, Hard Candy, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Leiner Health Products, General Motors, and Johnson and Johnson-McNeil Consumer Products.
With artistic talents that stretch beyond cosmetics, Jill’s custom leather clothing designs have been featured in an array of media—and worn by several celebrities.
Here, she tells Beauty Packaging about some of her favorite projects, where she gets her inspiration and what her
No. 1 priority is when creating a new cosmetics package.
Beauty Packaging: How did you become involved in cosmetics packaging?
Jill Tomandl: My goal was to design packaging for the cosmetics industry by combining art and engineering. During college, my plan was to learn about the technical and scientific aspects of packaging, so I could not only conceptualize and design the package, but also understand how to make it. I studied packaging at Michigan State University, the premier university for this discipline. I also studied fashion design and graphic design and took courses at a number of leading design schools. My first job in the cosmetics industry was at Merle Norman Cosmetics. It was a tremendous opportunity to learn the complete process, since they make components, formulate and manufacture color cosmetics, skin care and fragrance.
Art and design have always been a part of my life. The initial beauty industry inspiration came from my great grandmother and her collection of perfume bottles. I started taking art classes when I was young, attended an arts academy in junior high, and studied art and design throughout high school and college.
BP: What was your first big achievement?
JT: Sephora challenged Stila to develop a “futuristic” product. The No.1 asked question in Sephora at the time was: “How do I achieve a smoky eye look?” Stila has a huge presence in open sell retail distribution, so I created a “Virtual Stila Makeup Artist” inside a palette. I designed the package with a visual, video lenticular and an audio voice recording from a Stila pro-artist instructing the consumer how to apply the smoky eye look. The Stila Smoky Eye Palette was the first “talking” palette, the first instructional smoky eye palette, and started a smoky eye palette industry trend. It is patent pending. I also made multi-lingual versions for the international markets featuring professional French, Greek, and Korean makeup artists. The audio technology came from the greeting card industry. After the success of the initial compact, a whole collection of instructional talking palettes were launched to educate consumers on how to apply different looks including the perfect cat eye, the perfect pout and day to night.
BP: What are your responsibilities as far as Stila’s packaging? Do you have free reign?
JT: I create a product development creative brief for each season and provide recommendations for product innovation, raw material trends, collection themes, makeup looks and fashion inspiration, and package design ideas.
I have free reign when it comes to innovation. I love to conceptualize ideas, so I create drawings, have samples made, and request preliminary quotations for the projects to ensure they are feasible.
Jill Tomandl designed the Stila Snow Angel Color Palette for Holiday 2012.
JT: Stila has always been known for innovative packaging, because the founder of the brand established this as a major point of difference. “Stila lives at the intersection of fashion and beauty,” is part of the brand mission statement. The seasonal color palettes have always conveyed this message, since they communicate the trend and the look of the season.
Teaching the consumer is an important part of the brand DNA, so the Talking Palettes, the Color Wheel Palette and Dream in Full Color Palette are examples of incorporating teaching elements into the packaging. The Holiday Palettes are designed with shades grouped together by look, so the consumer understands how to easily combine shades and utilize all shades in the palette.
BP: You have been personally responsible for breaking ground with a number of packaging innovations. Where do you get your inspiration for these and other package designs?
JT: Inspiration can come from anywhere—art, fashion, photography, travel, nature, materials, decoration processes, vintage packaging, rock albums/cds/posters, other industries such as greeting cards, electronics, alcoholic beverages and even the challenge to be inventive.
I have worked hard to uphold the “innovation” part of my title. Fortunately, I learned from the best. My mentor, Gary Korba, was the head of packaging innovation at Estée Lauder and now MG New York.
BP: What is the No. 1 priority you keep in mind when approaching a new package design?
JT: I feel it is most important to have an original idea. It is critical for the package to function. I always visualize the package on the pages of a fashion magazine. If a package is beautiful, beauty editors will feature it in their editorials resulting in exposure to our target demographic.
BP: How do you source packaging suppliers?
JT: The package development and operations team source the packaging suppliers and I provide recommendations based on packages that perform well with the products, technical requirements and unique packaging ideas. Innovative, blue sky packaging concepts that require tooling are developed with packaging suppliers who believe in pushing the envelope and taking the time and effort to research and explore new ideas as partners.
BP: Has the packaging development process changed over the years in which you’ve been involved?
JT: Being “first to market” with innovation is Stila’s strength, so the packaging development process is moving faster than ever. The distribution of the cost of goods is changing. Due to the economy and increasing costs, the largest percentage of the cost of goods is going into the product to maintain the highest quality, instead of the package.
BP: What is your favorite packaging project that you’ve worked on at Stila? Why?
JT: My favorite packaging projects were the limited edition, color story palettes that I designed. Since I am responsible for product development, these projects have given me the opportunity to tell the complete story and communicate the marketing theme through the packaging. Stila has many collectors, so it was always fun to utilize interesting materials to construct truly unique, collectible packaging. It is difficult to select one favorite, so here are a few examples:
• The Stila Agate Eye Shadow Palette is decorated with a genuine Brazilian agate on a leather cord that functions as the decoration for the suede compact and can be removed and worn as a necklace. The agates have metaphysical properties such as creativity, friendship and wisdom that inspire the person wearing it and delivering the message, “Fall into Beauty Inside and Out.”
• The Stila Charmed Palette is a gold foil paper wrapped compact with genuine bindis from India. The product was infused with 24-karat gold, so the package conveys the collection theme: “Get Gorgeous with 24 Kt Gold.”
• The Stila Backstage Palette was inspired by the metallic, brocade fabrics on the runway promoting the “Backstage Beauty” tagline. The heavily embossed and debossed metallic paper wrap was handmade by artisans in India.
BP: Can you describe your “dream” package design project?
JT: To me, packaging is an art form. My dream is to design a cosmetic line with couture packaging. The packaging will have a unique, art-inspired concept every season, so it is collectible. I have so many ideas for this. You said “dream” project, so in this dream, budget is not an issue.
BP: Your favorite package in any industry?
JT: I have many favorites. I love anything laser cut with intricate designs especially cartons and leather. Fragrance packaging is incredible, especially vintage perfume and currently Bond No. 9.
BP: What are you working on now?
JT: Fall ’13
BP: How do you get away from it all—or do you?
JT: I feel so fortunate to be part of such a creative, innovative industry. I am very passionate about designing packaging and also custom clothing, so it is always on my mind. I am a huge music fan, so I love to go to concerts. I take my Bullmastiff on walks every day.