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In Conversation With:
Bee Shapiro of Ellis Brooklyn

Let’s state the obvious: writers see a lot of products cross their desk everyday, and it’s safe to say Bee Shapiro, who pens about beauty for The New York Times, Vanity Fair and Glamour, has seen it all. It’s with that in mind that we put our full trust in Ellis Brooklyn, Shapiro’s eco-friendly fragrance line.

We’re excited to have Bee’s perfumes at Beauty STORY, and think you should be too. Get to know her here!

What’s inspired you to create fragrances?
I was reviewing a ton of beauty products for The New York Times and one of the problems I saw with so many launches was that there didn’t seem a reason to be for the products. The start of the green beauty movement was so exciting because it was these indies coming in and saying we care about something more than just marketing and glitz. They were saying: we’re out here to improve what’s in the actual formulation, to make it safer, to be more of an advocate for the consumer. That was exciting to me. Then I got pregnant and I became even more passionate about what goes inside a beauty product. I saw there were wonderful brands going green in makeup and skincare but not in fragrance. Fragrance was still stuck in this very old-school way of thinking. Being a fragrance lover, I thought there has to be a brand out there who is doing the same in fragrance.

Any daily rituals?
I’m always trying new products, so it changes every day—it certainly is never dull! I always properly cleanse (at night, I’ll double cleanse). It’s actually a category I think people give short shrift to. Cleanser is in some ways, more important than moisturizer. Then I’ll do a serum or two, or I’ll do a serum plus a moisturizer.

Favorite ingredient to work with and why?
Sandalwood. Real, high quality sandalwood is fascinating. It’s woody, of course, but there’s also a subtle, almost-floral note.

Who inspires you?
I’m a big admirer of CEOs and leaders that work to improve the lives of their staff. I grew up in Seattle and there was always the attitude that the work-life balance is not an afterthought but the priority. I think of Burton’s CEO Donna Carpenter and how the company paid for workers who wanted to attend the Women’s March on Washington or of how Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek has been fighting to increase the minimum wage.

An item always in your fridge?
Peanut butter. It’s my kryptonite. I buy the kind you have to stir, so after you stir it, I stick in the fridge so it stays together.

Any hidden talents?
I can cook. I’m not classically trained but I can figure out and cook most dishes. I can’t resist tweaking recipes though so sometimes my experiments don’t turn out that well!

Favorite Williamsburg restaurant?
Zenkichi. Wonderful food, gorgeous presentation, you can actually have a conversation because it’s not too loud, and it has this “In the Mood for Love” vibe that’s so sexy in this understated way.

A fun fact we can’t learn about you from Google?
Geeky confession: I love sci fi movies and novels.

Favorite subject in school?
Chemistry. I think if I had to do my schooling all over again, I’d be a chemistry major.

What can we look forward to you making in the future?
I’m currently working on a jasmine scent. It’s one of those tricky florals that smells so marvelous and is so memorable when you encounter it in nature but it’s never quite as magical in a bottle. I’m trying to capture that moment at dusk when all the other flowers are going sleep and jasmine awakens.

In your job as a journalist you’re constantly pitched new story ideas and products. How do they win you over and what is their biggest mistake?
It’s said a lot in the industry but it’s important to have a point of view. Why is this product coming out? There has to be a reason to be more than that you felt like it. I also am often skeptical of new breakthroughs in science. If you’re touting your product as a breakthrough, it truly needs to be one. Too often it’s something that’s so miniscule that the regular user would never see a difference.

Ellis Brooklyn in six words?
Nature meets clean technology meets luxury