Nannette wears The Charmian Dress
Nannette de Gaspé Beaubien didn’t plan on revolutionizing the beauty world–it just kind of happened.
The 54-year-old studied commerce before getting her MBA from the University of Toronto, and planned on becoming a banker. She got married, had kids, and went into the private equity business with her husband. Years later, she and her husband invested in a bio-tech company, and Nannette realized the company’s groundbreaking technology needed a beauty brand behind it–and thus, Nannette de Gaspé was born.
Nannette’s namesake company (“where wearable technology meets luxury cosmetics”) specializes in masks that deliver active ingredients deep into the skin. They’re totally dry (AKA, mess-free) and are activated by body heat and skin’s pH to plump and perfect. There are face masks, eye masks, hand masks, neck masks–and yes, even a boob mask.
She’s using this technology to empower women “through revolutionary cosmetic technologies that they can use on their terms,” she says. After all, as Nannette puts it, “There’s more to success than the economics. I see it as a ripple effect–if we can provide you with something that makes you feel good, you move through life affecting others in that way.”
And if Nannette’s (perfect, glowing, envy-inducing) skin is any indication, these masks work. Read on to discover more about Nanette’s proprietary beauty tech, how she found her voice at 40, and her advice for women in business. (Hint: it involves getting aggressive.)
Nannette wears The Silverlake Jumpsuit
FAME: Can you talk us through your professional history, and how you landed in the beauty industry after building a career in private equity?
Nannette: I started my career after getting my MBA in banking, and I was working in banking and corporate finance in Toronto and New York. When I had my first child, [my husband and I] moved to Montreal just before our first son was born, and in Montreal, I started doing private equity with my husband–we have our own family firm.
One day a few years ago a friend of mine called me–she’s actually the president of Michael Kors Canada–and was like, “You have to see this company!” It was a bio-tech company that had created this revolutionary technology in the delivery of active ingredients into the system, as far as the bloodstream. She made me laugh, she said, “Forget fashion, it’s all about anti-aging.”
So this company was looking for an investor to help with the company. We took a look and decided to invest. I became the Executive Chair of the company with the mandate of helping them commercialize the technology. In doing so, the opportunity came to launch a brand.
Because I had met the head of buying and merchandising at Selfridges, I showed him [the product]. And he said, “This is the bomb, this is the most amazing thing I’ve seen, you need to launch a brand!” And I said, “No, I’m not launching a brand!” And he said, “If you launch a brand, Selfridges will support you.” I left there and I thought, This is an amazing idea because I’m going to be able to take this tech, this new approach to skincare, to the market, and what better platform than a store like Selfridges? How lucky to have a platform like that!
So anyway, I had six months to create a brand and I decided to create a very luxurious brand, because I thought with this new technology, you had to bring it out at the top of the market. So that’s what we did.
FAME: You’re known for your dry masks. How did the technology inspire this idea, and how do they actually work?
Nannette: When you look at the technology and what this product is about, there are two aspects to it. One is this biomagnetic microvector, which is a lipidic molecule, and it encapsulates the active ingredients and is able to deliver them to the multiple layers of the epidermis. It creates a reservoir under the skin, and feeds and nourishes the skin for 6 – 8 hours after you’ve actually applied the product.
The second technology is how the formulations are dry printed on textiles. When you look at a piece of clothing or cloth– when you feel it–you think there’s nothing on it. In this case, there’s actually formulation, and there’s enough formulation to be able to apply this product for 3 -5 uses. So basically, it’s a mask-type application, and because it’s dry, we have hooks to hook it over your ears. With a light massage, the temperature and pH of your skin activate the active ingredients to go deep in the epidermis of your skin. Our scientists call it an infuser instead of a mask.
Our first face mask was called Youth Revealed. Then we did a second product called Uplift Revealed, for the plumping and lifting of the breast and the tush–it’s quite unbelievable. With that microvector, we can deliver active ingredients into the system. So what we did was plumping and lifting actives, like hyaluronic acid and marine collagen, and the product is 94% natural. That’s good to know when you’re putting product into your system. Most creams are not that natural. So what happens is we send hyaluronic acid and marine college through this vector into the fat cells, and it fills the fat cells–it really works, I’m telling you, it’s quite amazing. We were able to demonstrate in in our clinicals.
The way it works is you wear it six days in a row, in your bra, for an hour–but you can wear it longer and get more results. A week later, [you wear it] for two days. Another week later, you wear it for another two days and so on. A pack is a month’s supply. What we were able to demonstrate in the study was 33% more volume–that’s a full cup size!
FAME: Your dry masks disrupted the norm in the beauty industry–we consider Fame and Partners to be an industry disruptor as well with our made-to-order technology. What does the term “industry disruptor” mean to you, and how can women in business begin to cultivate a “disruptor” mindset?
Nannette: Women are more hesitant to take chances–we are more consensus takers, we look to each other, we speak about it, through the ways we communicate with each other, we discuss the pros and cons. Men are more action takers. So I think for a woman, if innately you believe in something, listen to your intuition and act on that. My intuition told me this was right, that people wanted this type of solution.
If they think they have something really interesting to offer, they have to do that. Like in this case, Fame and Partners–you took an approach to the fashion industry that no one had taken and I’m sure a lot of brilliant people would’ve said that’s not possible. When people start saying, “That’s not possible,” start thinking Well, how can I do that? Everything is possible.
FAME: You’re both a mother and a successful businesswoman. So, do you think that women can “have it all?” What does “having it all” mean to you?
Nannette: I think that it’s a balancing act. As a mom, what happened with me was definitely my prioritizes shifted. For the period that your children are small, you’re putting more emphasis on that than your career. You can have both, but you have to find a balance with it, and that’s the key. Some people put too much into one or the other. With me, with my startup, you can work seven days a week non-stop, so you have to sort of pull away and take a little time to rejuvenate yourself. It’s very, very important.
FAME: In your mind, what is the biggest challenge for women in business? How can women combat that challenge?
Nannette: I think that as a woman, we’re not as confrontational–I don’t know if that’s the right word. We’re not as aggressive I guess, in terms of the way we usually approach things. However, when we are more assertive and more strong in our opinions, it’s often misinterpreted and we’re perceived as tough or bitchy–and men would be perceived as “taking the bull by the horns.” So I think one of the biggest challenges for a woman is to be firm and strong and at the same time, not alienate.
The other thing, one of the biggest concerns for women is finding our voice. It’s hard for a woman to find her voice. I didn’t find my voice until I was in my 40s. Even when I was younger, I would sit in meetings and I knew the answers and I wanted to say them. I always let the more domineering men speak up. And then I think, Wow–there was so much that I could’ve done and I could’ve achieved if I had found my voice at an early age.
FAME: We love your involvement with your “entrepreneurial philanthropy” foundation. We’d love to know more about your work there, especially concerning water conservation, as one of our core principals is sustainable clothing production. Why is water conservation so important to you, and what steps do you take professional and personally to make a difference in this area?
Nannette: With regard to water, the interesting thing is that my children actually were the ones who wanted to focus on water, because we live in Canada and everyone makes the assumption that water is abundant there, that we don’t have any water issues. And the great irony is, we do.
When my children were younger, my in-laws sat with them and talked with them about how they would give back environmentally. My in-laws thought they should look at the bee population, and my children said, “We really want to focus on water.” They were the ones that got us all to pay attention to the issues we have. Look at the Great Lakes, at the St. Lawrence River, what’s happening is the water is starting to go down, so the salt water from the ocean is starting to go up, and it’s getting closer and closer to where Quebec City is, for example. They don’t have the desalination plants, which are very expensive, to maintain the amount of freshwater we require. It’s quite scary.
What we’re doing with our foundation is mostly grassroots-type things. We decided we’d start by helping the Ottawa River. We get our drinking water from the Ottawa River, however, it was highly polluted on the Quebec side. Our first project was to work with them to start trying to clean up the Ottawa River on the Quebec side–bring in the government, bring in the private sector, and make everyone aware. We’re making progress, it’s been great. My kids are so active in it.
FAME: Can you walk us through your daily beauty routine?
Nannette: For me, I really believe in exfoliation. With the masks, I say exfoliate, use a toner, and put on the mask–it’s better than a facial!
I like to exfoliate a couple times a week because it keeps your skin healthy and fresh. I start my day by exfoliating, then I often will do a facial cleanser wipe–I’m very excited, with my new collection, we’re bringing out a beautiful cleansing wipe with something called “Concentrate Noir” in it–it’s a proprietary concentrate throughout the whole collection with all black ingredients–nourishing, hydrating ingredients like black superfruits, black cumin, black Tahitian pearls, black orchids, black volcanic ash. So we’re bringing out a black cleansing wipe–not only does it take away makeup and clean your skin, it has treatment properties too.
I usually go to the gym at six in the morning. Then I come back and use a cleanser, toner, and I believe in layering, so what I’ll do is put on a Vitamin C serum–if it’s in the winter in Montreal, I may put on another serum, an anti-aging serum. Then I put on a day cream, then usually I put a tinted moisturizer on top that has sun protection. I never go out of the house without sun protection.
At night, I do a similar routine but instead of a serum, I put a retinol cream on, and then I put a night cream on. And of course, I wear my masks! I don’t do it every day. Sometimes, when I can, I’ll do it four days in a row–at a minimum, I try to do it a couple times a week. When I wear the mask, my husband knows–he will say, “You wore your mask today!” You get a more plump, glowing look.
FAME: Which of your products is your personal favorite, and why?
Nannette: OK, so as of now, my favorite is my Youth Revealed face mask, because I see what it does for my skin. For me, where you see aging is the neck, the lip area, and the hands. I’m extra-paranoid about that. I have a full face mask, a hand mask, a neck mask. So for me, if I feel like I’ve been flying a lot and am dehydrated, I’ll start to see some lines on the lip area. When I wear the mask, I see the lines have disappeared.
FAME: Best business advice?
Nannette: To go forward. If you believe in something, then you will find the path to get it done. It’s just too easy to say, “Why can’t I get there?” and quit. My approach is never quit–find a solution. If one door closes, a new one will open. In business, things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to go. I look at it like an opportunity–my advice would be, don’t look at a closed door as a failure. Look at is as a learning experience or opportunity.
FAME: Best style or beauty advice?
Nannette: I think the key is, don’t work too hard at it.
FAME: What’s your go-to “power outfit” to feel good on a big day?
Nannette: If it’s for business, I have a lot of “Jackie O” dresses. A fitted dress like that with a pair of stilettos.