Friday, February 20, 2009

In her own words: Trae Bodge Napierala of Three Custom Color Specialists (Part I)

Three Custom Color Specialists became known for custom-blending cosmetics and replicating any shade that the customer presented to them - a boon for anyone whose favorite lipstick had been discontinued. It also has a Ready to Wear line, and has collaborated with numerous clients on special projects.

I had the pleasure to interview Trae Bodge Napierala, Creative Director and Co-Founder Three Custom Color Specialists. In this part, I interview her on the founding of Three Custom Color Specialists.

Trae Bodge Napierala

Your biographical sketch online states that you worked in the cosmetics industry for 20 years before founding Three Custom Color Specialists. Tell us more about what you did. Can you tell us whom you worked for? How did your past work prepare you for your current position as Creative Director?

Before Three Custom Color Specialists, I worked for Kiehl's for 8 years. There, I learned about the ins and outs of running a small, but wildly popular brand, with a a strong emphasis on great customer service, training and efficient operations and communication - a great education overall!

How did you meet your partners Scott Catto and Chad Hayduk?

We met at nightclubs in the late 80's. We were all freshmen in college at the time. Scott and Chad are a couple, and Chad is a makeup artist as well, so we would help secure jobs for each other over the years. Chad also worked with me at Kiehl's and before that, we both worked for Visage Beaute, the premiere custom blending line.

What inspired the three of you to start Three Custom Color Specialists?

Scott was an art dealer for many years. He was always encouraging Chad and I to do something with all the ideas we had. Near the end of our time at Kiehl's, Chad and I realized that we had hit our ceilings there so the 3 of us started brainstorming about how we could create a business based on what we learned about custom blending at Visage Beaute, which at that point was no longer in business. We also wanted to create a Ready to Wear line of makeup that was appropriate for all skin types and tones. Scott was experienced with operations and logistics (and dealing well with artists) so the equation made sense.

What were the challenges the three of you faced in starting up Three Custom Color Specialists?

Our main challenge was getting manufacturing and packaging firms to take us seriously, being that we were so young, but we were lucky enough to find great companies to work with, many of which we are still doing business with today.

In Part II, Trae talks about current and future activities for Three Custom Color Specialists.

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