In the Hot Seat:
tarte cosmetics Maureen Kelly, Founder & CEO

tarte cosmetics is celebrating a landmark anniversary this year. The company, whose mottos is “High-Performance Naturals,” something we at Beauty News know the brand lives up to, has been making women beautiful for the past decade and is commemorating the occasion with10th anniversary products such as their revolutionary Ten Natural Cheek Stain (baby pink) and a shadow palette in a purple and gold clutch-style case, packed with shimmery and matte eye shadows in metallic and jeweled tones, perfect for Fall. We felt it was the perfect time to sit down with founder and CEO (and former PhD candidate) Maureen Kelly of tarte to discuss the company and to give us a 360 view of the company then, the company now and the company tomorrow.

BN: Happy Anniversary! In 10 years, what is your number one accomplishment with Tarte?
MK: Thanks so much. I still can’t believe that we’re TEN! It’s hard to pick one accomplishment – there are so many that have truly made me happy over the years. For instance, the first time I saw a stranger pull a tarte lip gloss out of her bag – that a meant a lot to me; women were actually buying my products! tarte was real and no longer just a dream for me. Or, the first time I saw tarte products in a magazine, especially making Oprah’s coveted “O List.” What a rush!

BN: What is the product you’ve created that you are most proud of?
MK: Honestly, I take pride in every tarte product that we’ve created, but I guess I would have to say our first-to-market natural cheek stain! I launched that in 2000 and there was really no other blush out there like it. I created it for me.

BN: Any advice for businesswomen looking to form their own cosmetic companies?
I always encourage women to do what they love; follow your passion, but do so with caution. Be sure you’re creating something innovative or offering unique services that make a woman’s life easier. And always do your homework: research the market; know that industry and potential competitors. Whenever I meet entrepreneurs, I remind them to keep networking. You never know who you’re going to meet that can help you and make your dream a reality.

BN: What is your role in the company now? And how involved are you in the day-to-day and overall operations?
MK: In addition to being tarte’s founder, I’m also the CEO. Usually, I’m at the tarte office working with our Product Development team. However, I can’t help but dabble in all departments, but the creative stuff is what I truly live for!

BN: 10 years ago, did you think tarte would become the respected brand that it is?
MK: 10 years ago I was working out of my NYC one-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment packing shadows into compacts, making cold calls to retail outlets and asking for lots of help! Prior to starting tarte, I was pursuing my PhD in Psychology. I dropped out of my program and really never looked back. Did I think this dream would come true? I don’t think I had any other choice – I would’ve never heard the end of it from my parents, ha!

BN: The tarte tag is “High-Performance Naturals”: Can you give us some more insight into the company’s philosophies?
MK: At tarte we’re on a mission to prove that glamour can be good for you by pioneering the use of high-performance naturals™ that bring clinical results to the everyday woman. Our natural products are formulated with healthy ingredients like Amazonian clay and our t5™ super fruit complex. But it’s not just about what’s in our products that’s important; we also have a strict list of ingredients that we don’t formulate with, like parabens, sulfates and phthalates. As a cruelty-free line, we’re also helping to reduce environmental waste with eco-friendly packaging, sustainable resources, charitable partnerships and customer recycling initiatives. As I like to say: be green, be smart, be tarte!

BN: What do you have coming from tarte in Fall 2010 and beyond?
MK: I’m really excited about our fall products – especially our limited-edition, anniversary items: TEN collector’s shadow palette and TEN natural cheek stain. Additionally, we’re launching matte versions of our LipSurgence™ natural lip stains and 8 emphasEYES™ aqua-gel eyeliners in trendworthy shades. We also created a “radiant & rested” complexion collection that’s available exclusively at Sephora.

In June, my team and I visited Brazil to learn more about where our ingredients like Amazonian clay are sustainably sourced. We’ll be incorporating nature’s most perfect ingredient into more of the line. But for fall, we infused it into our smooth operator™ micronized clay finishing powder and at ease micronized clay calming concealer.

As for the future, we’re doing some really chic things for holiday…all I’m saying is that we’re thinking of beauty as an accessory this year!

BN: Okay, now for our rapid fire questions, which we ask everyone who takes part in the Hot Seat Q&A. What’s your favorite makeup product of all time and why?
MK: Concealer! You can hide any imperfection: dark circles, redness, acne…you name it!

BN: One KEY tip for our readers?
MK: I love the phrase “natural beauty” and everything it represents. Use makeup to compliment your natural beauty. If you were born with full lips, then celebrate them with a lush lip stain. Or, maybe you want to play up those baby blues. Define them with eyeliner. Remember: try to focus on one key feature and the rest is simple!

BN: One tarte product every woman should have in her makeup bag and why?
MK: I encourage every woman to try tarte’s lights, camera, lashes! 4-in-1 natural mascara. It’s the one product that I use everyday – I never leave the house without coating my lashes. I instantly look awake after applying LCL and it’s clinically-proven to increases lash volume by 424%!