leslie blodgett


We toast to the woman who started a foundation revolution.

In 1995, baby tees, mini backpacks, and liquid foundation were all the rage. Out of nowhere, a dynamic executive named Leslie Blodgett changed the complexion game for good with her mineral-based foundation—and for the past two decades, beauty lovers have remained fiercely loyal to the product. We caught up with the Bay Area–based Blodgett to discuss bareMinerals’s celebratory 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Original Foundation Kit, her history of connecting with women, and what’s inspiring her now. KELLEY HOFFMAN

Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of your Original Foundation! Tell me about your experience with the product from the beginning.

I’m very much attached to it. I was coming into myself as a person—fully understanding who I was—at the same time I was bringing the world a product that no one had ever heard of. It had only five ingredients. It was natural and had this weird technique that you had to put the product in the lid, and swirl, tap, and buff it onto the skin. It was such a departure from what women were doing. But it never occurred to me to get sidestepped from my belief in the product.

But nobody cared, because it was too different and because we didn’t have advertising. Everyone just did typical advertising back then. So how do you get the word out on a brand new product like that? That’s where TV helped. And doing an infomercial really is when millions of women heard about the product. For me, it was, basically, a YouTube video. It was a tutorial on complexion on television.

How did you get your message across?

The product itself was revolutionary and innovative, because no one else thought about making foundation that way. The TV part was how we got the word out, but the product itself was just getting people to just think, “Huh, really? There is an option like that out there?”

You’re wearing makeup all day long. Do you want it seeping into your skin? You’re not giving your skin a break, only at night. What are you putting on your face? All I did was ask a bunch of questions to women.

Do you really want all those 50 chemicals on your face? Do you even know why you’re breaking out every day? And it just became a very strong word-of-mouth business.

Did its popularity inspire you to launch new products?

After we went on air for the first time, we found out there were forums online. And that’s where my personal connection to real women began. Not just my local friends in San Francisco, but people in Georgia and Alabama and Alaska and all over. So by meeting these women online, a lot of the new product ideas came from them or us collaborating together. So it was crowdsourcing back before there was a word for it. We had ideas, but they had better ideas.

Why do you think products that address complexion can feel so powerful?

When you help someone out with their complexion, they feel free to have a life, because it can hold some people back. And I’ve learned over the years that it can make some women not even want to leave the house. They don’t like meeting new people.

So, I feel landing on complexion has been eye-opening for me in terms of connecting with women.

I love the bejeweled design of your 20th Anniversary Original Foundation. Can you tell me about the new brush in the kit?

It’s all synthetic fibers. [It never] stays on the top. You can’t apply bareMinerals with product just on the top. That would be a disaster. The outside spins it in and drills it down into the center. It’s a dome. And it’s so soft. We’re huge believers in blending any foundation, which is why you’ll always see a brush with any of our foundations. The more you blend, the more it becomes one with your skin. So you get medium to full coverage with this. When you’re done applying it, go back over it with nothing on the brush. I really do believe that you can carry your bare brush around with you throughout the day. What product you put on in the morning is enough for the whole day. You don’t have to reapply it. It doesn’t go anywhere. You just [motions bare brush over face] reinvigorate it.

Where do you find inspiration today?

I went to a conference last week of young women who were creating their own personal brands. It was really fun. I’m doing a lot of angel investing in startups, and I’m meeting people with big dreams and big ideas and a lot of dedication to getting there. So that’s what is inspiring for me, to see this new generation of women that are on fire. I try and get in front of them so that they can get in front of me.