Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles is open for beauty business. (Photo: Smashbox)
For 25 years, Smashbox has enjoyed a unique position in beauty as both an in-demand event space and prestige color line. While many beauty companies focus solely on product, Smashbox has managed to marry both the editorial and the color sides of the industry. With the recent top-to-bottom renovation and expansion of Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles, including a partnership with production and technology company Industrial Color Brands and a brand new “Made at Smashbox” program for digital content creators,
Yahoo Beauty spoke to Dean and Davis Factor, the great-grandsons of legendary Hollywood makeup artist Max Factor who have beauty in the blood. When they founded Smashbox Studios in 1990, a love of photography was the initial lure, and it immediately became one of LA’s top creative and event spaces.
“Photography is the core of our brand,” says Davis Factor. “I’ve made a career as a photographer and this path took me into the studio business and then the cosmetics business. Photographs will always be relevant because they capture time. I get to shoot what I make and have the freedom to capture these moments along the way.”
Working in the studio on a daily basis with top makeup artists like Jeanine Lobell, Gucci Westman, Patti Dubroff, and Paul Starr eventually inspired the Factors to create their own line in 1996. “We found that [the makeup artists] were always creating new shades and products for shoots that worked best on the models and celebrities,” says Davis Factor. “From there, we worked with Paul to create a line that could be worn on and off set. It has evolved over the years but the studio remains our inspiration every day.”
Over the years, the studio has played host to shoots with titans like Herb Ritz and Annie Leibowitz, including the iconic yearly Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue. The cosmetics line, meanwhile, is beloved by celebrities like Charlize Theron, Kim Kardashian, and Madonna. Having a slice of both pies is a trump card for the brand. “Innovation is the most important part of the cosmetics industry. Being able to stay ahead of the curve and use Smashbox Studios from a technical point-of-view puts us one step ahead of our competitors,” explains Factor.
In 2013, the Studios temporarily shuttered for a facelift. They hired architectural design firm Gensler, spending $7 million dollars renovating the 25,000 square foot space in partnership with photo, video, studio production, and technology vertical Industrial Color Brands and severing ties with Quixote. Industrial Color Brands brings state-of-the-art innovations for both photographers and events, including customizable green screens and top-of-the-line lighting and camera equipment. Factor loves the innovation. “Having the studio allows us to stay current and open to experimenting with every aspect of the business.”
Experimenting with trends has been a key factor in Smashbox’s enduring success. They’re just announced their “Made at Smashbox” program in collaboration with Collective Digital Studio (CDS), allowing YouTube stars and digital influencers a free space to shoot. They’ll have access to Smashbox makeup artists, stylists, and all studio services, including personal development teams and a production crew.
Content creator James Chen will be Creative Director of “Made at Smashbox” for CDS, whose roster of talent includes digital beauty influencers Weylie Hoang, Lauren Curtis, Meredith Foster, Makeupgeektv, and Blair and Elle Fowler. Further plans include photo and video workshops led by Davis Factor and other top L.A. photographers and directors. The digital stars will also be able to mix up a custom lip gloss, with Smashbox producing a hundred glosses for them.
“Nothing is more exciting than creating something that doesn’t exist,” says Factor. “Innovation is part of the Smashbox DNA. We want to continue this tradition and empower the next generation of creative influencers.”