These days entire aisles are dedicated to brow products, from pencils to gels to spoolies and practically every product you can imagine. But back in 1998, when Romanian-born founder and CEO Anastasia Soare started Anastasia Beverly Hills, the brow category practically didn’t exist. Soare launched her brand based on her signature—and patented—eyebrow shaping technique, the Golden Ratio method and introduced a product line in 2000 to maintain the ideal brow shape. That’s why she’s known for fueling the multimillion-dollar business around the brow category.
Now the brand is marking their 25th anniversary and they have a lot to celebrate. Anastasia Beverly Hills spent the last 25 years expanding beyond brows, becoming one of the most popular brands in the beauty industry. They debuted their color cosmetics on Instagram in 2014, the brand is now sold in more than 25 countries around the world, and they’ve earned quite the celebrity following, with Amal Clooney, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah and Kim Kardashian as fans, to name a few. Soare tells us all about being a beauty pioneer and the brand’s journey toward this milestone anniversary—and what she hopes the next 25 years has in store for Anastasia Beverly Hills.
How does it feel to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Anastasia Beverly Hills? It feels incredible. When people use our products, they are essentially inviting us into their homes, their routines, the way they choose to present themselves to the world. It’s a very intimate experience and I’m so proud that ABH gets to be a part of that for so many people.
What is your beauty philosophy and how do you apply that to Anastasia Beverly Hills? Beauty is about balance and proportion—not perfection. The theory of the Golden Ratio is that aesthetic harmony occurs when things are in balance. Within beauty, this applies not only to eyebrows, but to the entire face.
When you first launched Anastasia Beverly Hills, what were your goals for the brand? Quality and education. We never put out a product that we are not completely in love with ourselves. And every time we have a launch, an entire education team works on pro tips and video tutorials to make sure our clients are getting the best use out of their new product. We wanted to create a line for the ABH “prosumer”—someone who expects and deserves professional level products, even if they’re not in the beauty profession.
How have your goals for the brand evolved over the last 25 years? Honestly, they have stayed remarkably the same: stay committed to quality and only launch what we love.
What was your beauty and entrepreneurial background before launching Anastasia Beverly Hills? When I immigrated to the United States, I didn’t know the language. I had left behind my family; I knew no one. I always had an interest in beauty, and working as an esthetician was work I could do without speaking perfect English. It was while doing facial and body waxing that I started to shape eyebrows, as an add-on to existing service. As demand increased, I went from renting a room in a salon to opening my own salon. I had no formal entrepreneurial training. It was a labor of love and every step was a lesson.
Why did you launch the brand around brows? I saw an empty niche that could be filled. When I started shaping brows, it was sort of this revolutionary and novel thing to do because it wasn’t offered anywhere else. I remember encountering so much doubt when I decided to open my own salon. Really, an entire salon devoted only to eyebrows? People thought I was crazy, but I saw the interest. I knew it was a risk I had to take.
How did you develop the Golden Ratio Eyebrow Shaping Method? I first came to know about the concept of the Golden Ratio from my professor, Asciu. We would study highlight and shadow, balance and proportion, and I realized years later that the same principle could be applied to eyebrows and that it would have the power to transform a person’s entire look. If the Golden Ratio could bring harmony to art, architecture and the body, why not brows? It was like a stroke of lightning, and I knew I had to move fast to bottle it. I worked on a formula for its application, arriving at the three steps of the Golden Ratio Shaping Technique: brows should begin directly above the middle of your nostrils, brows should end where the corner of the nostril connects with the outer corner of the eye, and the highest point of the arch should connect the middle of the tip of the nose with the middle of the iris. This creates brows tailored to each individual’s unique bone structure.
How did you help carve out brows as its own beauty category? When I started, no one was creating products specifically for brows. To create the perfect shape for my clients after shaping, I would fill in their brows with my own homemade mixture of eyeshadow, aloe vera and Vaseline. But of course, they would go home at the end of the day and wash it off. They wanted something they could use as part of their daily beauty routine. I had to start completely from scratch. There were months of traveling to Italy and going back and forth on the development of the formula to ensure that it performed at the quality I needed it to. When I launched the first Anastasia Beverly Hills product line in 1998, it carved out a completely new product category in beauty. But even with this launch, it wasn’t as though a switch flipped immediately. It was ten to fifteen solid years of advocating for brows with every client, news station and press outlet, but I was determined. I wanted for my name to be synonymous with brows.
What specific brow trends did you help launch? That brows are personalized to each person’s bone structure, and that this individuality is what creates harmony and proportion. From there, if you’re chasing minimally tinted, lifted and laminated, or bold Instagram brows, we’ve created the perfect product to help you achieve your vision.
How has the brand’s DNA always been rooted in community? Our strong community roots extend all the way back to one of the brand’s founding pillars: education. Brow products were brand new, so if I wanted them to be successful, I was going to need to teach people how to use them. I would travel constantly to different Nordstrom stores where ABH products were first carried. I spent hours talking to customers about our products and I would maybe reach 100 people a day. When we got onto Instagram and started receiving thousands of likes, it was earth-shattering. I remember a woman commented about how she wished she had Brow Wiz where she was. I asked, ‘What’s your address; I’ll send you one.’ But she was in Pakistan! We had a fan all the way in Pakistan, and it was then that I realized the kind of reach social media was going to allow us to have. Social media also transformed the way the daily enthusiasts interact with makeup. I remember the days that if you had a special event, you would go get your makeup professionally done. Instagram broke down tips and tricks in a way that let any beauty lover learn and flourish, and it’s been a joy to see the talent of artists over the years. A great deal of our content on social media has always been user-generated. We love reposting the unique ways our fans use our products and I think this really grabs users’ attention. They feel supported, seen and cheered on to develop their skills and their creativity. Building this community then inspires loyalty to the brand.
Why did you decide to expand beyond brows to color cosmetics in 2014? ABH creates new products when we see a need for them in the market. The brow line came about because no one was making products for brows at the time and our color line grew out of a similar quest for innovation. When we saw that a contour kit hadn’t been assembled, we set out to do it ourselves. It was a natural extension of the Golden Ratio, using highlight and shadow to bring balance and proportion to the face. Professional artists were already in the know, but the Contour Kit made contouring popular among all beauty lovers. When we saw room for improvement in the formulas of eyeshadows or liquid lipstick, we went to the lab to test our theories and create our own. We want every product we launch to be the latest thing you can’t live without.
What makes Anastasia Beverly Hills different from other makeup brands It’s been the way we’ve engaged with our audience. We are always authentic. We strive to be innovative. And the core Anastasia Beverly Hills hinges on the theory of the Golden Ratio, which is what truly sets us apart.
As a family-owned business, how do you run the company with your daughter? Claudia originally worked at the salon and came along on promotional trips. Over time, she grew to take on increasing responsibility at Anastasia Beverly Hills. She’s now our President and Creative Director, and absolutely brilliant with product development. It was Claudia who insisted we set up an Instagram account, seeing it as an opportunity for the brand to expand through social media and build a special relationship with users. She also took the theory of the Golden Ratio and expanded it into the creation of the color line, which led to the creation of such products as our cult-favorite Contour Kit. Claudia has now launched the Norvina Collection: the line is elevated, professional creative makeup that is refined for enthusiasts, making it both the tool of choice for professionals and the reliable entry point for those who are dipping into color for the first time. It may not be necessary for every company, but for us, working together was essential. It’s our life.
What are the benefits of being family-owned and run? I get to stay incredibly hands on, from sitting in day-today department meetings to handwriting checks. To this day, Claudia and I still test every single batch of brow product before it’s approved.
What were the biggest challenges along the way of expanding your brand into an empire? There are certain challenges you encounter while navigating a new country that only other immigrants can truly understand. I was constantly on a mission—to convince the bank to give me a credit card, to convince the landlord to rent me the salon space, to convince detractors that eyebrows could be big business. I believed in my vision and that is what kept me going. I’ve learned to never give up and never take no for an answer.
Why did you establish the Anastasia Brighter Horizon Foundation? In 2011, I founded the Anastasia Brighter Horizon Foundation, which sets out to provide young adults without the stability of a familial or financial support system the tools and means to achieve a successful career in the beauty industry. Through scholarships, the ABHF pays for beauty school training, helps with business skills and supports job placement so that recipients are fully prepared to enter the workforce. This cause is close to my heart because it represents a fresh start and a secure future. When I moved to the States from Romania in 1989, I had absolutely no idea how I would ever learn to get by in such an intimidating place. It took years of hard work and many disappointments before I truly felt secure in my craft. I now want to share this success with others, mentoring a young group of people and funding their education so they have the foundation to form a lifelong career.
Why is giving back important to you? I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to actively support causes that are close to their heart to the extent that they can. When I launched ABH, I wanted this brand to work for everyone regardless of age, race or sexual orientation. Now that our platform and our reach has grown exponentially, this is still our central sentiment when choosing what causes to uplift. We partner with RuPaul’s Drag Race to support each season’s winning artist. In the past, we’ve worked with the Trevor Project, cancer research, mental health organizations and community-building initiatives. In 2020, we created a Black-owned business grant. We realized that while speaking out is appreciated, one of the best ways to support a community is to support their thinkers, innovators and leaders financially.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of helming Anastasia Beverly Hills for the last 25 years? Giving my daughter a purpose, something that she loves and is passionate about.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 25 years? I know that I want to constantly improve. When I envision the future, the edges are fuzzy. It’s like Michelangelo, who started chiseling from one piece of marble until the figure slowly materialized, only then getting a glimpse at the finished work. My motivation gets renewed as new steps are revealed, as they materialize. I then assess where I am and what the next steps should be. As far as concrete accomplishments, if I could get a Brow Wiz into the hands of every single beauty lover in the world, I’d be happy.