All happy couples remember the moment they first locked eyes. Victoria Beckham famously met her husband, David, in the Manchester United players’ lounge in 1997. More than 20 years later, over a mountain of empty, archived makeup products piled in the dining room of her Beverly Hills home, Beckham would glance across the table at the woman with whom she would start her namesake beauty line.
“She is the most impressive person that I’ve ever met in the beauty space,” Beckham says of Sarah Creal, a veteran product developer tasked in 2016 with bringing to life Beckham’s wildly popular capsule collections created with Estée Lauder. Creal, whose credits include Prada’s beloved, short-lived cosmetics line, was similarly impressed. “I just believed in her, in her vision,” says the 49-year-old blonde, who left corporate life and joined Beckham as the cofounder and CEO of Victoria Beckham Beauty in January. Both women describe the endeavor as a start-up. (Fittingly, the brand operates out of a WeWork in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.) “Innovation and speed: These are the things we’re going after,” Creal explains, adding that she is constantly telling her seven-person team that “perfection is not innovation.” It’s also not an idea that Beckham wanted to bring to her newest and most nimble category: a digitally native brand extension that just launched with a focus on eye makeup.
There aren’t many start-ups whose cofounder has the kind of sway that Beckham does. When she announced the venture via Instagram back in February, the post generated more than a million views—and product requests from fans that ranged from a “good” light-brown mascara to inclusive shade offerings. And when an ambitious, sustainable packaging plan took a slight left turn as Beckham and Creal realized that the black glass they had sourced for their Lid Lustre pots was not reliably recyclable, Beckham conferred with Apple’s famed chief design officer, Jony Ive—“the king of black glass,” according to Creal.
Still, Beckham is committed to the idea of building this new project in what she calls a “small, humble way.” Squint hard, very hard, and you can almost picture her and Creal as the ambitious bootstrappers they were back when they began their careers in beauty: Beckham as a perfume spritzer in an Essex shopping mall and Creal at the Clinique counter at Bergdorf Goodman. Much has changed since then for both women, of course—perhaps most notably that they’re not just entrepreneurs but also mothers. “Working mums get the job done,” Beckham declares over a crackling phone line from Italy, where she is on holiday with David and their family. (The couple and their three youngest children—their 20-year-old son Brooklyn is working—have already been on a run and to the gym.) She’s relaxed—not just because this is about as close to being on vacation as she gets but because the forthcoming launch doesn’t faze her one bit. “I don’t feel like I have to prove myself at all,” she says. “This is not a vanity project. I’ve never just gotten out the checkbook and gone crazy—what I’m creating is what I can’t find and what I want in my makeup bag.” Beckham is also savvy enough to know that what people want in their makeup bags isn’t just her products but a window into her life. It’s the reason Victoria Beckham Beauty will soon branch out beyond makeup to skin-care, fragrance, and a wellness category that aims to capitalize on her own rigorous fitness and supplement regimen, which includes everything from fish oils and vitamin D to Elysium Health’s popular Basis capsules for energy, sleep, and cellular function.
That the inaugural drop would be all about eyes was never in question, though. “If you were to say to someone, ‘What is the signature look for Victoria Beckham?’ they would say ‘A smoky eye,’ ” she says. The line’s four debut eye-shadow palettes reference established looks she wears on the regular. The earthy warmth of Tweed evokes summer days spent in the Cotswolds, while Tuxedo’s gray scale calls to mind innumerable red-carpet photo calls. Royal features a cobalt color that she wore to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding, which got nearly as much traction on social media as the event itself. The collection is rounded out by four crystal-infused shadow toppers and three liners—which include a sharpener opt-in or opt-out program to reduce plastic consumption. Every product also comes in a 100% postconsumer-recycled box.
The fact that a mascara is missing from the curation is deliberate. “It’s been a nightmare finding a clean formula,” Creal reveals of a commitment to ingredient transparency that is as important to the two women as the design of the reusable slimline horn-effect compacts and caps brought to life by Ezra Petronio. Beckham is betting on “clean” as the future, not a fad. Although she’s keen to reemphasize that Victoria Beckham Beauty is “not perfect”—the phrase has become an unofficial brand hashtag—the collection meets the checklist for non-toxicity set out in The Credo Clean Standard (no cyclic silicones, formaldehyde, parabens, or phthalates, among other potentially harmful ingredients) and surpasses that of Sephora. “It’s for women, by women. We’re creating beauty solutions that help fuel your life,” Creal says of the ethos behind the project, which will be available at an “affordable luxury” price point. (The Eye Brick shadow palettes retail for $54 each.)
The two women speak about what they’re doing as “beauty in motion”—meaning not just beautiful products for busy women but an equally agile business model with a considerable amount of runway. Recently, Creal—who has two young daughters—saw a post on Beckham’s Instagram that made her pick up the phone. It was a shot of Beckham in the foyer, with a cereal bowl in one hand and a coffee in the other. “I was like, ‘Your post today is you. It’s me. And it’s really every person I know in this day and age,’ ” Creal recalls. Could this kind of relatability eventually cause Beckham’s beauty business to outstrip her fashion empire? “There’s potential,” the designer says coyly as she dashes off with the kids. “There’s so much to come.”
Victoria Beckham Beauty
Originally Appeared on Vogue