The daughters of a cosmetic brand mogul are working with their mother to ensure their makeup remains appealing to a new generation and continent of customers, writes Zoe Mak
Some people are programmed completely differently to the rest of their family, but sometimes, genetics are just too strong. Maggie and Annie Ford Danielson, daughters of Benefit cosmetics co-founder Jean Ford, were in Hong Kong last week to celebrate the brand's five-year presence in the city. The pair have followed in the footsteps of their mother and aunt, Jane Ford, who founded the cult makeup brand, and are makeup trend artists and brand authorities for Benefit.
The makeup company has been around since 1976, but the Ford Danielson girls are new additions.
'I was in a marketing firm and we worked with clients in the beauty industry,' says Maggie, 29, 'so it was the right time, the right place: Annie and I both wanted to join Benefit so we started about two years ago.'
The pair say their main role is public relations: they travel around America and the world to give interviews and open new shops.
But rather than taking the reins from their mum and aunt, the sisters say they are just learning and slowly accepting responsibility for parts of the business, while the Ford twins make all the major decisions.
They describe themselves as 'just another layer' of the brand, and say they are taking their new roles slowly.
'We're like the new voice because the brand needs to evolve,' says Maggie. 'We're constantly talking to new customers and seeing what the new generation wants,' Maggie says.
On their visit to Hong Kong, the Ford Danielsons were surprised by the differences in what customers want from brands such as theirs.
'I think we were first blown away by the focus on skincare and the preservation of skin, because in a lot of other countries, the US included, skincare is important but not like makeup,' says the elder sister. 'But here it's about your skin first and then the makeup you wear on top of it.
'It's all about having a clean and natural face ... and the perfect complexion.'
'If you have that beautiful complexion, you won't have bags under your eyes or blemishes to cover up,' Annie, 23, adds. 'Women's skin is beautiful [in Asia], unlike anything you see anywhere else.'
According to the brand's statistics, the most popular products in Hong Kong include Dr Feelgood, Women Seeking Toner, That Girl, Dandelion and Posie Tint, which are all skincare products and very light makeup items that create natural looks.
'But in the US,' Maggie says, 'mascara and Benetint, which is a really strong cheek and lip colour, are the most popular.'
Having visited more than a dozen cities in the last two years, the girls have noticed different regions, climate and cultures produce wildly different customer demands, something they will bear in mind as they help to develop Benefit's future.
In Asia, the brand currently sells in Korea, Hong Kong, the mainland, Taiwan and Malaysia; Japan is the next logical step.
'It's going to be huge,' says Maggie. And bearing in mind what she's learned Hong Kong women want, she adds: 'we're going to be launching a big skincare range all around the world, too.'