Zilber is a passionate traveler and a recognized philanthropist, a volunteer with UNICEF and an advocate for empowerment of women and girls in the developing world. But she says her most coveted role is mother to her two children.
Recently, Beauty Packaging had the opportunity to ask Zilber about her playful approach to cosmetics. We learned how she succeeded in creating her niche brand—from her packaging challenges to her first big break in retail.
Beauty Packaging: How did you become involved in cosmetics packaging? Did you feel something was missing that Jouer solved?
Christina Zilber: Sometimes the simplest ideas aren’t represented in the market. I found my niche when I kept trying to find a makeup palette with a concealer inside—simple but impossible to find. I wanted to carry a palette with what I wanted, no more, no less. The idea of real customization is at the heart of the line and it doesn’t exist anywhere else. There are a slew of makeup artist lines, but I approach beauty a little differently than a professional artist. I’m technique challenged and abhor sitting at a makeup counter, so I can relate to what women really want with their makeup.
BP: What was the process in launching your line?
CZ: I first met with an engineer to create a prototype of the compacts, then met with packaging manufacturers to determine the feasibility of creating custom packaging. I finally landed on a company willing to proceed with small minimums and without a huge fee.
BP: What was your vision/intent?
CZ: That makeup should be fun and easy! I wanted to create a line of effortless, portable products you could combine to create customized palettes. All of our makeup has skin care benefits and combines my love of style and beauty.
BP: How did you arrive at the idea of a customized palette?
CZ: The overall concept of customizing your palette came from my desire to carry a concealer in my palette. You cannot find a makeup palette with a concealer in a beautiful formula matching your skin. The idea of the slide and snap packaging was born. I want women to carry what they want in their palette, not what a product developer chooses for them.
BP: How exactly do the different elements “connect?” Is there a limit to how many can be put together?
CZ: The products are able to connect front to back with pegs and side to side with tracks. There is no limit to the number of products that can be connected; you can make your palette as edited or broad as you choose.
BP: How did you source the formulations and the packaging? What were the challenges?
CZ: I hired a product developer early on to help source the highest quality formulas. As a product junkie I’m highly discerning with what I put on my face and did not want to compromise with my line.
BP: What materials are used for the packaging? What decorative processes?
CZ: Jouer’s custom chocolate brown compacts are made with a hard plastic, then decorated with our champagne logo. The line also contains plastic vials, glass bottles and tubes.
BP: What was your first big break? In what year?
CZ: Henri Bendel took a leap of faith bringing Jouer into their flagship store on Fifth Avenue in fall of 2008.
BP: How many different color cosmetics are offered? Which ones?
CZ: We offer over 200 products within the line—ranging across face, lips, cheeks and eyes.
BP: Do you still use the same suppliers as you did at the start?
CZ: Some of the suppliers are the same ones we launched with and others are new. As the little guy I tend to get pushed around. For example, I’ve placed purchase orders and then had different products than I ordered delivered. I’ve had to move on to new suppliers based on mutual respect and integrity.
BP: How has the packaging evolved? Do you always stick with this componentry? Or do you launch new products as well?
Makeup application is fun and easy, customized and portable, with Jouer snap-together cosmetics.
BP: Where do you see Jouer going in the future?
CZ: Right now Jouer is focused on widening distribution. I’d like to see Jouer in more retail locations so our customers can find it easily.
BP: Any anecdotes or memorable moments regarding Jouer?
CZ: Jouer is like a third child so there are many memories. A highlight was winning the Allure Best of Beauty Award for our Luminizing Moisture Tint and meeting editor-in-chief Linda Wells. I cried!
BP: Any advice for individuals thinking about launching a new brand?
CZ: I jumped into the world of makeup with a healthy dose of naïveté. Learn as much as you can before you start putting any money into your company, find mentors, and if you believe in your vision wholeheartedly, do not accept no as an answer.