Sometimes it’s the middle of a workday and it’s raining outside and you just need a little “pick me up”—although, you may have nowhere to go. So yes ladies, don’t tell your boss, but I’m encouraging it—take that long lunch and head over to Rouge NY to get a makeup refresh.
Rouge NY is a makeup bar dedicated to making women feel beautiful, whether it’s a Wednesday night date night or a big night out on the town on Saturday. They encourage all women to come in for all occasions. As I hop off the subway and click-clack of my near-broken gold heels to the border of Upper East Side and Midtown East heading to Rouge NY, I can only think of one thing – I’m meeting Stephanie March! (I’m a huge fan of one of her less popular roles in Head of State)
Rouge was started by coworkers-turned-sisters Rebecca Perkins and Stephanie March. You’ve probably seen Stephanie March on Law & Order: SVU and guess who did her makeup?–The one and only Rebecca Perkins. After a friendship had sparked, Stephanie would have Rebecca apply her makeup for extracurricular events and continued to receive compliments. Then the idea was born – what if they created a place where everyday women, not just celebrities, could get high quality makeup done for their own events or nights out.
I got the chance to visit their new Upper East Side location this month and it was a treat. Located on 60th and 3rd, you are in prime time retail space next to Bloomingdale’s and the ever so delicious (but always has a wait) Serendipity 3. The gorgeous Rouge red sign upon entering the space is enough to get you excited but if you’re like me – and adore a color coordinated line up – the plethora of color pigments along the entrance will also catch your eye. Stay tuned, you’re going to love what happens next.
I sat down with the two entrepreneurial spirits and got to get the Rouge experience while chatting about how this idea became a reality.
We start getting settled and they tell me that the fun begins with the lipstick (Say no more—I already like this place). Now at Rouge, there are two types of lipsticks – the chocolate one (an actual chocolate in the shape of a lipstick!) and the one you apply on your lips. I sampled both. I then meet chemist Giella, this woman is impressive. Giella creates custom products, lipstick in this case, from the best quality and custom colors suited to your desires. All GIELLA products are non-comedogenic, fragrance-free and allergy-free. She asks me what color I wanted, I had to have a nice long hard think (approximated 2.5 minutes to be exact) and I decided on a deep red. The goth in me is screaming for joy.
Next, Giella mixes up some pigments with other ingredients, puts it in a melting station and I’m getting my very own custom lipstick—entitled Francesca’s Fire. Props to Giella on coming up the clever name!
I’m sorry I forgot to mention—Rebecca Perkins is doing my makeup! Cue screams.
Where do you think this idea primarily sparked from?
RP: When I would do Stephanie’s makeup done and people kept complimenting her and saying ‘Oh, I wish I could have that done’ or ‘You’re so lucky to have her do your makeup.’ And we realized a gap in the market. We started asking ourselves ‘Why is this considered a luxury? Why can’t everyone have access to great makeup?’ We questioned why everything in the market so sales driven which could create a fraught relationship with your makeup artist, making you feel like you always need to buy something. However, in the Film & TV background it’s also different –As the makeup artist, I’m there to make you beautiful. So in the advent of all these blow dry salons popping up, we really felt the world was ready for it.
Also, if you have the opportunity to go into business with Stephanie March, you take it.
(I must admit, I was so star struck that I asked Stephanie to take a picture of me– eek! Sorry.)
What really pushed you to start this idea and not just talk about it?
SM: I believe I was getting my makeup done for a shoot in the Hamptons and Rebecca looked at me and said “I feel like someone else is going to do this before us and if that happens I’m going to be very sad. Are you ready?” And I said yes, let’s do this.
RP: When I first told Stephanie this idea, I remember her eyes literally flew open. She was looking down at something and she just looked up at me and was like “Yes, we’re doing it.” – And we just thought that it would be really fun. I mean have you been on a TV set? It’s really boring.
SM: It is really boring.
RP: The timing probably couldn’t have come at a better time. The exact timing of it probably happened because I had my first son and SUV was just too much, I was working 70 hours a week. So I decided to start freelancing and that really wasn’t I hoped it would be. The idea for Rouge really just came at the perfect time and it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.
SM: It will be our two year anniversary this December.
Have you both always wanted to be entrepreneurs?
SM: That’s a very interesting question; I think Rebecca is very entrepreneurial in spirit.
RP: I think that’s something my family always told me that ‘oh you’re very entrepreneurial.’ And I swore I just wanted to do TV –it turns out they were right. Stephanie also really understands the nature of business and making judgmental calls.
SM: I have a friend who graduated from Wharton and she always said ‘You only need two things to start a business—a really good idea and to work your ass off.’ So Rebecca has both of those and I came along for the ride.
The answer to this may be obvious but why NYC?
RP: Well, where else is there a collection of glamorous, beautiful, professional women on every corner? (Secret’s out.)
SM: And we were really excited to find out most of our clients are professional women using our service for a variety of professional occasions. It’s not just for date night—it’s not just using make-up to attract a man. It’s a tool to express who you are and how you feel that day. (Self-empowerment, ladies!)
Besides creating a ruckus and redefining the luxury of fabulous makeup, where else do you see Rouge NY going?
SM: Global domination.
RP: Global domination in every market.
SM: Wherever there is SoulCycle or a Dry Bar there should be Rouge.
Any new short term projects that you can spill the beans on?
RP: We are excited about launching the Lipscription. It’s a subscription based lip-duo that we will come out with every three months and it will come with the new upcoming season trends.
By the way—the spring colors are bright tomato red and a cantaloupe sheer—you got it straight from the source.
Are you open to employing freelance makeup artists?
RP: Yes, some are full-time but some are part-time. We always keep resumes on file.
What is the most rewarding feeling about seeing Rouge NY come to life?
RP: There are two sides to it. First, when I’m doing someone’s makeup and they aren’t paying attention and then they look up and the shock and happiness that overcomes their face is priceless. Second, as a makeup artist, being able to create a beautiful, comfortable work environment and develop artistry and bring it to the streets is really nice. I feel like we’re creating really beautiful makeup artists here. They start off good but by doing makeup repeatedly makes them SO good. So bringing out people’s skills is a gift and meeting the ladies of NYC and working with Stephanie. There are a lot of pluses.
SM: For me, as an actor you always work for someone else. And it’s not that now we don’t work for each other or for Rouge but it’s nice to have some autonomy and entrepreneurial and this is something that we are in control of and we enjoy. The feeling of ownership and empowerment is great.
I also really love our clients. We have an incredible amount of different clientele.
What do you want the public to know about Rouge NY?
SM: That we are open from Monday through Saturday at 220 East 60th Street. Cue our round of laughter.
RP: That we’re here, come over, and it’s something you can do. A lot of people I think hear about us and think “oh that sounds nice I’ll save that for a special occasion” but we want to expand that philosophy. That’s why we launched the membership. You can pay a set price and come in here as often as you like, we’re here to take care of you. That’s probably something else I’m really excited we launched. No one else is really doing that, that’s unique to us, Rouge.
If you are interested in attending Rouge NY, visit their website here.
Do you have any suggestions for me? Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.