In 1999, when Leonard Lauder flew to Los Angeles to meet Jeanine Lobell, the 35-year-old makeup artist had no intention of selling Stila. “I didn’t think it was worth selling enough at the time. So it was just more like, when else am I going to meet Leonard Lauder? she says. They met at the Bel-Air hotel and Lauder filled Lobell with questions about her fledgling business while she smoked chain cigarettes on the balcony. A week later, the sale was made. “It was a Friday and Leonard said, ‘I don’t care what he wants, give it to him,'” according to Lobell.
A teenager Laura Mulleavy saw the same fascination in Lobell’s products. “She was Stila”, says the designer Rodarte. “It was very different,” recalls the brand’s proposal ahead of its time: professional-grade colors and ultra-wearable formulas in recyclable aluminum tubes and sustainable cardboard packaging. “But that sensitivity and knowledge of innovation is literally a part of Jeanine,” adds Mulleavy, now a friend and client of Lobell’s. “If it hasn’t been done, this is what Jeanine will find, and this is what she will invent.” Lobell’s latest idea is Neen, a social media-based, subscription-based cheat card that’s poised to disrupt the industry again.
After noticing a shift in the way people buy and consume makeup (“everyone loves tutorials”), Lobell started thinking about how to get the product into people’s hands more quickly, easily and sustainably. “I realized something about myself a long time ago, which is that I don’t need to be smarter than other people; but I have to be smarter than the problem. The problem, as she sees it, is that while sample boxes provide a convenient way to try out a new trick, the waste they create is unsustainable and the community look simply isn’t there. Neen’s monthly paper card (yes, paper) arrives in the mail (yes, mail) and features five detachable tabs of limited-use powders, glosses, and creams designed to be worn in full looks or on their own. A QR code takes you to matching tutorials starring a messy crew that includes Lobell’s kids, ages 19 to 30, their friends, and artists and models she discovered via Instagram. If you like what you try, you can order individual products, as well as a modified collection of staples, on the Neen website. (A universal black eye pencil and a tube of sustainable mascara are also in the works.) Another problem Lobell is solving: reusable packaging that doesn’t look like “junk” once you finish the product inside. “You can throw them in the dishwasher!” she is thrilled with her custom designed silicone compacts.
Lobell didn’t need to launch another beauty brand. “I made your covers. I did a makeup line, I sold a makeup line. I already have mine, so to speak. These days she also devotes much of her time to tutoring. “She really guides you,” says Francelle Daly, make-up artist and co-founder of Love + Craft + Beauty who launched her career at the Stila counter, and then as a traveling artist for the brand. But there is something personal to Lobell about this project. “I have all these Gen Z descendants and just, like, watching their world explode, honestly, with freedom. I wanted to create a really cool space that everyone could be in.