Maggie: What? When did that happen?!
Annie: I know! After I graduated from college we both decided that it was the right time to join the family biz. It actually feels like its been about five minutes though!
S: So what did you do in college?
A: Um, I studied art history and I thought I was going to go into interior design, but I didn’t! (laughs)
S: So you never thought this is what you would end up doing? This was not always the plan?
A: No, not even when I was in college did I ever think that. It never really crossed our minds.
M: Growing up you know, there was never this grand plan conversation with our Mom and Aunt. When you’re in a family that has a business you have to come to the decision of whether to join in or not on your own. Uh, because once you go there you can’t really go back! (laughs) We can’t be like ‘oh hey Mom, this was totally fun but I’m out’ (laughs) I was thinking about becoming a Doctor and I didn’t do that –
A: Isn’t that crazy?
M: It really is. I really feel now though that I couldn’t do anything else. It feels so natural to be doing this, it’s part of who we are.
S: What was it like growing up when your Mom and Aunt had this huge family business?
A: You know, it was so interesting because it was just like, our Dad had a job and our Mom had a job and they were both equally as cool to us –
M: Or maybe not cool? (laughs)
A: Our Mom never really brought her work home, so it was never like ‘oh our Mom and Aunt have this company, how cool’. We never even wore makeup! We were total tomboys.
M: It was cool when we had a prom or something on though
A: Yeah, we’d say to our Mom ‘you can totally do our makeup now’ and she’d be like (makes winning gesture) ‘yessssss!’ (laughs)
S: What’s it like doing what you do with all the travelling?
A: We were just talking about this last night. Everyone always says to us ‘how do you do what you do when you’re travelling so much, it must be so hard’ and we’re sitting there, in The One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai having a glass of wine thinking ‘our life is awesome’ (laughs) I think it would be really difficult though if we didn’t have each other, it would be lonely and you know we do have to be away from our friends, family and husbands.
S: With the makeup application side of things, how did you learn how the trade?
M: Through osmosis! (laughs) We just learned through trial and error and from Jean and Jane. Often from attempting to use makeup when they’re younger women feel intimidated by it, but we never had that when we were growing up – there was never fear. That’s what we really want to instill in customers about Benefit, it can be fun and it’s not scary!
A: Yeah, I mean if you mess up it’s not like your dyeing or cutting your hair
M: That you need some skill for!
S: When you decided to officially join the company, did you know what role you would have then?
M: No! (laughs) It’s still a work in progress really. Every trip we go on we come back and we’re like ‘OK that was awesome, let’s do some more of that!’ When we started it was agreed that we both needed to do something that would build our knowledge of the company –
A: And to earn the respect of our colleagues
M: Right, we couldn’t just come in and be like ‘hi, we’re the global beauty authorities!’ It wasn’t the right thing to do. So I was doing in-store events at a department store and Annie was working in a boutique for like, a year –
A: God that was so hard. The hardest work I’ve ever done in my life I’ll tell you that right now.
M: Yeah, retail is not easy –
A: It’s brutal!
M: We started on the home shopping network which was great training and then our roles as Global Beauty Authorities have just evolved over time.
A: Yeah, we really didn’t know what we would be doing. Now, it’s our job to make sure everyone knows the DNA of Benefit, what we’re all about. That’s our main goal.
M: There are so many Benefit products and so many different sides to the brand; San Francisco, the pink and the stripes, the brow bar and so on it’s our job to make sure that they all come across.
A: I think if you don’t know the brand and you don’t know what we’re about there can be a lot of misconceptions. It can look like a brand just for teenagers –
M: Or a retro only brand
A: Right, it’s our job to make sure people know what we’re about.
S: So what’s happening next with Benefit?
M: Oh my god so much!
A: Well, we’ve just launched Fake Up here –
S: Which is amazeballs, I have to say –
M: Ah isn’t it! We love it
S: It’s a great texture
A: I know, try it once and you’re addicted. It’s so smooth and hydrating. We launched it in the US a few months ago and one of the Editors was like ‘when I saw it, it was a serious ‘duh’ moment. Like, how has no one done this before? A hydrating concealer!’
M: Yup, everyone was just walking around doing this instead (starts patting her undereye area, laughs)
S: What products in the Benefit range are your all time favourites?
A: I’ve been using Fake Up for two years; I’m obsessed with it. It’s because my skin is so dry, I’m like a desert. I’ll put it everywhere, under my eyes on my chin, down my nose. That, and They’re Real. And can I just say we have a new brow product and a new box of powder coming out and it is beyond. Beyond! (laughs)
M: I think we’re both wearing the new box of powder today actually, but we can’t tell you what it’s called… (laughs)
S: Is it like –
A: We can’t tell you anything! (laughs uproariously)
S: But that’s totally unfair! You’re wearing it now!
A: Well, we know people (laughs)
M: We have connections (laughs)
S: OK fine… so for you Annie it’s Fake Up and They’re Real?
A: Yeah, and Hello Flawless
M: Um, for me –
A: And Hoola
M: All the brow products and Porefessional because unlike Annie, I’m pretty oily. I can’t live without them.
S: What are the most popular products in the Middle East?
M: Porefessional is massive here and They’re Real and actually, Bathina is really big here too. Benetint too.
S: And apart from products, is there anything else in the pipeline?
M: Yes! But we can’t tell you.
A: Well, we can’t tell you what it is but we will just say this; it has to do with hair.
M: Annie! You just gave it away!
A: No I didn’t –
S: Is it a blow dry bar?
A: (innocently) I don’t know… We’re doing a few tests, one of them will be in Dublin and the other in London, and then it will all come out!
We finished our interview by discussing Kim Kardashians pregnancy style in-depth with Annie declaring that she needs to go down the floaty, maxi dress pregnancy route and Maggie wondering aloud ‘is that actually her face?’
It was an absolute pleasure chatting with them; they are so friendly and totally hilarious. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it!