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Brushing Up

Atlantan Anisa Telwar has made millions of makeup brushes—and about $30 million last year alone. Now, she stresses the importance of giving some of it away: ’Tis the season, after all.

Anisa Telwar in her Atlanta office

On her company:
We’re mainly a private label, selling cosmetic brushes and bags to various makeup lines and retailers. I also have a small brand called adesign that I’m using as a pipeline for new products. We’re the industry leader, and we’re bringing something new to the table all the time. It’s really about making women feel good about themselves. I want women to be educated to be preventative and not have to be so corrective. We can prevent a lot of things that happen to our skin by using the right skin care and cosmetics. We want to give folks the right education and tools. It’s our attitude about who we are that matters. Then, it’s nice to have makeup!

On getting into brushes:
Back in ’92 I was working with a guy from Korea who manufactured brushes, so I took on the marketing aspect. I started talking about cosmetic brushes [and our brand] in a new light and people really gravitated to it. There were so many beautiful brushes that just weren’t working with the product—a disservice to both the brush and the product. So, I opened the dialogue.

On the importance of makeup:
It’s about self-love, self-care. It’s not about ‘making up’ for something, it’s about enhancing who we are. Makeup’s not meant to be a mask. You don’t want, when you go to take it off, for noone to know who you are! Most men would rather women not wear makeup.

On philanthropy:
The money and time I donate has to do with all of the effort [my company and employees] are making together. I want my organization to understand that they’re helping to contribute to a positive effect on the community. My primary focus here is on Families First, which benefits children and seniors, and Lifeline Animal Project, which benefits abandoned and abused animals and conducts spay/neuter and vaccinations at low or no cost.

On choosing where to give:
My whole organization knows I give back and that we, as a company give back. I want them to know what we’re doing and why. With Families First, we delivered over 200 turkeys for Thanksgiving and my employees participated. I want them to feel what it’s like to pack a meal for somebody who otherwise wouldn’t have had a meal that day. There are ripple effects that we never see. We really don’t know how we impact people through our efforts. I do know, however, that you have to feel it in your heart.