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Beauty with a Twist

By: Karen Newman
Posted: November 7, 2006, from the November 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.
Beth Ann Catalano and Tina Hedges

Beth Ann Catalano and Tina Hedges

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“Ultimately, she was preparing herself to be in a less-structured entrepreneurial position,” said McDonald. “Jonathan let her apply all her skills.”

Hong Kong to Hollywood

Hedges grew up thinking she wanted to be a fashion designer. She studied Mandarin Chinese at Amherst College in Massachusetts so she would be ready when the time came to manufacture clothing in China. She lived in China for a year to study the language. Convinced that she would be the next Ralph Lauren, she finished college and took a job on 7th Avenue in New York. When her boss’s Chinese partner decided to leave Hong Kong, the boss hired Hedges to learn his business and run his factory in China.

“I got to learn on someone else’s dime,” said Hedges. She learned that you have to love your product, whatever it is. “You have to really believe in it.” It turns out she was not that interested in fashion.

Hedges believes that her most formative years were her first few years in the beauty industry. In 1989, Bernd Metzger, the president of Parfums Christian Dior, was looking for some new energy and new blood with a global perspective. Hedges joined his “Polyglots” program—a young international force with global backgrounds that he felt would bring a fresh approach to the beauty industry. He moved them around the company, including stints on the sales floor. “He put me in Macy’s Herald Square for the launch of Fahrenheit, and wouldn’t tell me for how long,” said Hedges.

“Our business begins and ends at the counter,” she recalls Metzger telling her. “If you’re not willing to start there and understand it, you’ll never make it in this industry.” Hedges spent four months at Macy’s, and calls it the hardest job she’s ever had in the industry. Throughout her career, she remembered the lessons learned in those early days. “I always made sure every few months, no matter where I was, to go and spend some time behind the counter.”