By Diane Y. Welch
Confidence and a passionate work ethic led Katherine “Annie” Finch, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, to realize her dreams in the world of cosmetics after retirement from a career in beauty that included top-level executive posts with Estée Lauder.
Finch’s love of people and her goal to bring out their inner beauty made her switch from employee to entrepreneur more purposeful. The result is her innovative, luxury line of cosmetics designed for today’s active woman.
On Thursday evening, Aug. 8, Katherine Cosmetics held its national launch at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa. Attendees were treated to an elegant champagne reception with gourmet catering, complimentary make-overs, and parting gifts of chocolate paired with Katherine Cosmetics eyeliner. Finch’s favored charity, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), was also showcased at the event. Finch is gala chair for CCF’s upcoming Breath of Life fundraiser on Sept. 21.
The star attraction, though, was the Katherine Cosmetics line that takes a refreshingly simple approach to everyday beauty, said Finch. The travel-friendly makeup is crafted with innovative natural ingredients that nourish the skin and are available in neutral wearable shades. Application has been streamlined to five items and in only a few minutes you get to “live the Katherine way,” said Finch. The five travel essentials include concealer, cheek glow, shimmer lip gloss, eyeliner and mascara, smartly packed in a soft brown cosmetics bag that fits easily in any purse.
Earth tones, rich chocolate browns and silver accents create a luxury packaging design that suggests a sporty, yet feminine feel. Infused with natural oils the cosmetics are understated and designed to naturally enhance any woman’s complexion, said Finch, who was a student of education at the University of Arizona working at a local Broadway department store during the summer when she first developed her passion for beauty.
Although she was initially hired to work the whole store she honed in on the cosmetics department where she met the Estée Lauder representatives and unpacked product boxes for them.
“That was my very first entry into the beauty business,” Finch recalled. Eventually she was trained and hired by Estée Lauder to work part-time, which launched her 23-year career with the company.
Words of wisdom from one of those trainers have stayed with Finch all her life.
“She told me, ‘Whatever you do, do it the best you know how,’” said Finch, who was soon promoted to manage the cosmetics counter after she graduated college, learning the business from the ground up.
After taking over the Southern California region, Finch traveled with Leonard Lauder on van tours, meeting with beauty staff at malls around the state. They would discuss the meetings afterward and analyze the sales numbers for any given store.
“It soon became obvious that the business sales numbers were only as good as the people,” Finch said.
This realization paired with a strong work ethic led Finch to climb the corporate ladder, holding every position with the prestigious company — Finch eventually ran sales and marketing for North America.
Finch retired from Estée Lauder four years ago but it didn’t last long when a friend invited her to invest in a new beauty company.
“I soon realized that this was something I could do for myself,” Finch said. Retirement was over and Katherine Cosmetics was created.
Inspiration for the brand identity was born from Finch’s equestrian background. A seasoned jumper she garnered the title Area Adult National Equitation Champion on her horse, Swing, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show last year, beating out 28 competitors. The brand also embraces the generational story of four Katherines in the family who served as powerful guiding forces in Finch’s life, paving the way for her determination to succeed and to express her deep love of inner beauty. The brand’s logo comprises four interlocking “K” letters in homage to this lineage.
The cosmetics distribution model is also innovative, allowing independent makeup artists to reach women everywhere through social-selling via private in-home trunk shows or through their websites. Women do not have to be currently trained to become a Katherine Cosmetics stylist, as Finch personally trains each and every makeup stylist herself.
“The line is designed for real women, so there are real women selling it. They just have to have a love for beauty products,” said Finch.
To find out more about Katherine Cosmetics or to become a stylist, visit www.katherinecosmetics.com.