• Corynne Corbett

Leslie Bethel, Luxury Beauty Business Manager

Updated: Aug 13

Leslie Bethel says that she has loved beauty since she was in her mother's womb. But although she is inspired by the stories of Estee Lauder and Helena Rubenstein, it is Eunice Johnson, the creator of Ebony Fashion Fair traveling fashion shows, and the groundbreaking Fashion Fair Cosmetics line that really ignited her passion.


I grew up studying the greats. I mean, the Holy Grail. Eunice Johnson. She is everything to me. Like I'm thinking about getting a tattoo with her picture. I love everything that Eunice Johnson did for the beauty industry with Fashion Fair .

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After dropping out of college and setting her sites on a retail job, she landed her first role as a Business Manager for Elizabeth Arden at Nordstrom in the DC metro area. Later she came to New York City, where she set her sights on luxury beauty brands.

Leslie talks about the skills a business manager needs to succeed, which includes the ability to set and achieve financial goals, manage the expectation and needs of the retailer, her staff, the brand, and most of all the customer. She talks about how important things like inventory management, coaching, and counseling staff and merchandising is to achieving her sales goals.

Motivating and hiring the right talent is key and keeping the right talent motivated. Is so important to manage your inventory. I know how much inventory I'm receiving. What are the sales goals? What is the company making from my business here in this department or in this brick and mortar business?

She explains the differences in responsibility between running a counter at a major retailer like Saks, and running a store, like Blue Mercury.

If I'm a business manager at Saks and I get sick, then you have people to call to come to open up the counter in the department. In a freestanding store, the store stays close.

Leslie talks about the difference between selling skincare and makeup and explains that skincare is the foundation of beauty. In the luxury space, it is much easier to get a repeat client for skincare than it is for makeup. Because the client has many options from which to choose from for a lipstick. or a mascara, including the drug store.

She explains why she never wanted to be a celebrity makeup artist and why you can't be considered a makeup artist if you're only an expert on putting makeup on your own face.

Leslie talks about how she's always wanted to be an entrepreneur and how entrepreneurship is what she is focused on for her next step.

Guest Bio:

Leslie Bethel is a Business & Education Manager and Brand Strategist with more than 23 yrs expertise in managing top retail doors in NYC for some of the luxury beauty industry’s most prestigious brands. As a teenager, she became obsessed with the business of beauty after witnessing Eunice Johnson and her enormous success with Ebony Fashion Fair.

After briefly attending Norfolk State University, Leslie left school and moved to Washington, D.C

Her first job in retail management was Counter Manager for Elizabeth Arden. In 1997, Leslie moved to NYC to pursue the goal of growing corporately w/ a luxury beauty brand. Eventually she held positions as Business Manager for some of the best luxury beauty companies in the Industry including YSL Beauty, Christian Dior, Laura Mercier, and La Mer. She also served as a Store Manager for Blue Mercury.

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