Women of Influence

Jane Iredale, M.A.’98

Founder and President, Iredale Mineral Cosmetics

A Sense of Satisfaction

By Carol Olechowski

As a New York City-based casting director, producer and writer, Jane Iredale worked with Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon and other celebrities. Her clients included Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. She worked for all the major television networks.

But in 1994, after 25 years in the entertainment field, Iredale embraced a new opportunity, founding Iredale Mineral Cosmetics (www.janeiredale.com), a line of natural makeup products.
“I saw so many actors and models struggling to keep their skins healthy because of the amounts and types of makeup they had to wear,” recalls Iredale, who worked for J. Walter Thompson before establishing her own casting and production companies. “I wanted to be in a business that gave me a sense of satisfaction, and enhancing the lives of women was a great motivator.

“The greatest challenge, of course, was financial. I maxed out my credit cards and went to friends, who made small investments. Later, as we gained more credibility, our bank provided a credit line.”

With regard to cosmetics, Iredale explains, the word “mineral“ has come to mean “a makeup formula that doesn’t use fillers such as talc and is as clean as possible. It benefits the skin and minimizes any risk of sensitivity. Because minerals are pure pigment, they cover well and always feel light on the skin, allowing it to breathe and function normally. Minerals give a natural look that improves the skin’s appearance.”

Iredale Mineral Cosmetics are made in California, and new products are “always” in development. “Part of being a successful makeup brand is to keep bringing out things that are exciting and fresh. In 2015, we’re launching our first hand cream – a beautiful non-sticky formula that smells of roses and has an SPF of 15,” says Iredale.

The most rewarding part of her work is “receiving testimonials from customers about how our makeup has changed their lives.” Iredale often interacts with customers at events and on social media. “They always have suggestions for me. Some have found their way into the line.”

Her own favorite Iredale product is PurePressed Base, “a foundation, powder, concealer and sunscreen all in one. I use it every day. It stays where I put it, evens out my skin tone and protects me from sun damage.”

A native of England, Iredale earned a bachelor’s degree at New York University. In the mid-1990s, she enrolled in the University at Albany’s master’s program in liberal studies. Iredale acknowledges that it was difficult to attend classes while operating a business, “but it gave me something else to think about, rather than being consumed by the business 24 hours a day. My logic class was so challenging that I used to see the TA on a regular basis. When I got an A in that class, I thought: ‘If I can get through that, I can certainly make a success of my business. That’s easy, compared to logic.’

“One of the most important things I learned at the University was how to organize my thoughts and write a paper. Writing skills in business are so important; I can’t emphasize that enough,” Iredale notes.

At home in Great Barrington, Mass., Iredale leads her employees in supporting numerous local organizations, including Fairview Hospital, the Women’s Cancer Wellness Fund, Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Creative, and Habitat for Humanity. Other causes, such as Greenpeace, The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society, are also important to her.

“I honestly believe that we’re only as strong as our weakest link, whether that’s a human being or the environment,” Iredale observes. “I’m lucky to have a satisfying and rewarding quality of life; the more people who share in those things, the better my life will be. So it isn’t really philanthropy. It’s pretty selfish.”