Profile: Streamlining Beauty

Carrie Gross
President & CEO
MD Skincare

Many in the beauty industry credit their entry into the arena to early experience or family influence. A few claim that they married into the industry, and Carrie Gross is among them. As a merchandise buyer for Nordstrom, she directed the domestic and European women’s designer markets for the East Coast, gaining valuable marketing experience. After 12 years, she left to pursue a different path.

“I’ve always been interested in personal care—but it became more of an actual pursuit once I married Dennis. As I became more interested and involved with his work, I developed a strong conviction that his talents combined with my retail experience could create a line that would offer something new.” At the same time, Gross wanted to create a strong retail presence.

She worked with her husband Dennis Gross, a New York dermatologist, to launch MD Skincare, designed to complement a professional system with an at-home regimen, available in retail and professional outlets. “Because of this, our day spa and resort partners offer the professional protocols and sell our retail products for at-home maintenance. We looked for partners that shared our philosophies on value, service and education.”

In her previous career, Gross was constantly monitoring fashion trends to keep her purchases fresh and relevant. At MD Skincare, her trend monitoring continues, but now it relates to beauty industry developments. “One trend I see in our industry is a shift in consciousness. True beauty requires an undeniable mind-body connection, and I think we recognize that this is achieved through health and wellness. Skin care and skin health really trump makeup—the less you have to cover up, the better.”

Healthy choices, both for individuals and the planet, are the focus behind the trend toward green living in all areas of society. For Gross, the natural and organic market presents an area of intense personal interest. “My main hope is that consumers don’t see green products as a fad, but rather as just one aspect of a comprehensive lifestyle choice,” she said.

The trend toward sun protection, both in moisturizers and makeup, is one that Gross sees as part of a daily regimen geared toward such a comprehensive lifestyle choice. “I also believe that there is a shared sensibility against overly-tanned, rough, or weathered skin. In our antiaging world, these things make you look old—no matter what your ethnicity,” she said.

Skin health is the overall marketing message of MD Skincare, with healthy skin being the first step toward any other esthetic goal. “It’s also important for consumers to know that skin care doesn’t have to be complicated, which is why many of our products are multifunctional and for all skin types.”

Marketing the line is an extension of her consumer focus. “My job is to streamline things for consumers, to edit down all their choices to a select few that really stand out across all levels. Whether in beauty or fashion, this requires an understanding of the consumer psyche.”

Gross believes she has more responsibility to her skin care consumer than she did in fashion. “With personal care and beauty, you enter the realm of health and well-being. This is just one of the reasons that education is so important to our brand. We have the opportunity to teach consumers about caring for their skin, practicing safe sun, loving who they are and not becoming image-obsessed.”

She receives the most satisfaction from trend-setting, as opposed to trend-watching. “For anyone who works in marketing, it’s so fulfilling to create and nurture something, then watch it evolve and take on a life of its own. Knowing that consumers respect our attention to quality and value and derive pleasure from their purchases gives me, and everyone here, a phenomenal feeling of success.”

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