Stila Founder Jeanine Lobell Is Revolutionizing the Way We Think About Beauty

In 1999, when Leonard Lauder flew out to Los Angeles to meet with Jeanine Lobell, the 35-year-old makeup artist had no intention of selling Stila. “I didn’t think it was worth enough to sell at that 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 peppered Lobell with questions about her fledgling business as she chain-smoked cigarettes on the balcony. A week later, the sale was made. “It was a Friday and Leonard said, ‘I don’t care what she wants, give it to her,’ ” according to Lobell.

A teenage Laura Mulleavy saw the same appeal in Lobell’s products. “Stila was it,” says the Rodarte designer. “It was very different,” she recalls of the brand’s ahead-of-its-time proposition: professional-grade colors and ultrawearable formulas in recyclable aluminum tubes and sustainable cardboard packaging. “But that sensibility and that 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, that’s what Jeanine is going to find, and that’s what she’s going to dream up.” Lobell’s latest idea is Neen, a social media–minded, subscription-based makeup card that’s poised to disrupt the industry all over again.

Lobell, photographed by Zoe Adlersberg.

Having noticed a shift in the way people were buying and consuming makeup (“everybody loves tutorials”), Lobell started thinking about how to more quickly, easily, and sustainably get product into people’s hands. “I realized something about myself a long time ago, which is that I don’t need to be smarter than other people; but I need to be smarter than the problem.” The problem, as she sees it, is that while sampling boxes provide a price-accessible way to try new makeup, the waste they create is untenable, and the community aspect just isn’t there. Neen’s monthly paper card (yes, card) arrives by mail (yes, mail) and features five peel-back tabs of limited-use powders, glosses, and creams designed to be worn in complete looks or on their own. A QR code takes you to corresponding tutorials starring a ragtag crew that includes Lobell’s children, ages 19 to 30, their friends, and artists and models she has discovered through Instagram. If you like what you try, you can order the individual products, as well as an edited collection of staples, on Neen’s website. (A universal black eye pencil and a sustainable mascara tube are also in the works.) Another problem Lobell is solving for: reusable packaging that doesn’t look “like garbage” once you’ve finished the product inside. “You can throw these in the dishwasher!” she enthuses of her custom-designed silicone compacts.

Lobell didn’t need to launch another beauty brand. “I’ve done your covers. I made a makeup line, I sold a makeup line. I already got mine, so to speak.” She also devotes much of her time these days to mentorship. “She really guides you,” says Francelle Daly, a makeup artist and the cofounder 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 for Lobell in this project. “I have all these Gen Z offspring and just, like, watching their world explode, honestly, with freedom. I wanted to create a really great space for everybody to be in.”

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