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CEW 2012 Achiever Award winners (from left) Laurie Black, executive vice president, general merchandise manager, cosmetics, Nordstrom; Jill Belasco, founder and CEO, CoScentix; Laurice Rahmé, president and founder, Bond No. 9 New York; and Alina Roytberg, co-president and co-founder, Fresh.
The 37th Annual Cosmetic Executive Women’s (CEW) Achiever Award luncheon honored four of the industry’s most accomplished women on November 12, 2012, at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. Despite a postponement and rescheduling of the event due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated portions of the Northeast U.S., the Achiever Awards luncheon drew more than 1,000 attendees, and took place with the enthusiasm and collegial spirit that continues to distinguish the event each year.
Carlotta Jacobson, president, CEW, recognized the organization's staff and the efforts of the individuals who made the rescheduling seamless, and acknowledged the winners of the 2012 honors, which recognize the achievements of the cosmetic industry’s most talented women who also serve as an inspirations for future women leaders. The 2012 CEW Achievers were Jill Belasco, founder and CEO, CoScentrix; Laurie Black, executive vice president, general merchandise manager, cosmetics, Fresh.
In addition, Laurice Rahmé, president and founder, Bond No. 9 New York, received CEW’s Great Idea Award for Fragrance Innovation. This award recognizes a woman who has made an impact in the perfume industry by creating a new product category, satisfying unmet consumer needs or cultivating an untapped market, and was sponsored by International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF). Also recognized by CEW, L’Oréal USA was honored with the Corporate Empowerment for Women Award, which recognizes a company that has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the advancement of women.
According to Jacobson, “The Achievers acknowledged today, who have contributed so much to growing this industry, without fail all credit their team, as well as their mentors, for their success.” She added, “This event is unique because it is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the success of women in the beauty industry. The achievements of these remarkable female leaders and role models are so inspirational to the entire beauty community.”
Christophe de Villeplee, vice president, fine fragrance and beauty care worldwide, IFF, introduced the Great Idea Award for Fragrance Innovation, presenting it to Rahmé. He explained that the award recognizes those who take an idea and develop it into a great idea. “Creating a fragrance is like a story,” he said, noting that Rahmé had created many love stories with fragrance, and her work represents the epitome of fragrance design creativity. “She celebrates the mystery and appeal of New York, from Madison Avenue to Chinatown, and has absorbed and translated its stories into perfume,” said de Villeplee.
Rahmé elaborated in her acceptance, saying, “I love this city and have had a love affair with it for 30 years. On September 11, this love affair became a true passion. That became the catalyst for me, and Bond No. 9 was born on Bond Street. I wanted to make the city smell good again. I wanted to make New York the capital of perfume.”
Jacobson turned the conversation to the role of women in the industry, segueing into the importance of leveraging women’s talent and the integral place of professional and personal fulfillment in the lives of women today. “Let’s face it, women are the life blood of this industry, and as economic challenges have become greater, women have continued to make a difference,” she said. “The Corporate Empowerment for Women Award recognizes the central role women play in this industry, and this year’s winner, L’Oréal USA, is being recognized for supporting women’s dreams and going the extra mile with corporate initiatives, doing business differently and supporting the mantra ‘Because I’m worth it,’ for every woman, everywhere.”
Frederic Roze, president and CEO, L’Oréal USA, who was seated on stage with Carol Hamilton, president of luxury products division, and Karen Fondu, president of L’Oréal Paris, accepted the award on behalf of the company, saying, “Women are the heart of our company. They represent 65% of the company’s work force, and their intimate knowledge of beauty has helped L’Oréal become the number one company in beauty. We are empowering women beyond the scope of the business, have partnered with UNESCO, and believe powerful women can change the world.”
While each honoree has had a distinguished and unique career path, there are specific commonalities that they share. Among them are discipline, vision, hard work, passion and the ability to make tough choices while attempting to achieve balance among work, family and friends. No small task when they are running companies in one of the most competitive industries in the world.
David Belasco, general counsel and brother to the CEO CoScentrix, described how honoree Jill Belasco exemplifies these qualities. “Jill loves the industry, and for those of you who know her, she’s in the office at 5 a.m. and she works hard,” he said. She spent the first half of her career in the corporate world, working in the cosmetics division of the May Co. and also in field sales. In 1994, when the company she worked for at the time, Monet Jewelry, filed for bankruptcy, she found herself without a job. This moment, according to her brother, was pivotal. A call from a friend led to a consulting position in private label fragrance, and Belasco became an entrepreneur with the creation of her company, Latitudes. According to her brother, she sold her business in 2007 to a public company, and, “Instead of relaxing, she stayed on as CEO, buying back some of the company, and keeping her team together.” This is the same team that works with her now at CoScentrix, the company she founded earlier this year, which also enables her to keep jobs and manufacturing here in the U.S.