Bee Shapiro, Founder of Ellis Brooklyn & NYT Columnist
Ask any woman about her beauty rituals, and you'll get an intimate peek into her life: the products she values, the where and when of her routine and, ultimately, what makes her feel powerful and ready to make things happen. This is what our latest spotlight feature, Bee Shapiro, has built her career on—as the New York Times beauty columnist for more than 11 years and counting, she’s interviewed countless celebrities, models, facialists and more on how they see, use and connect with beauty. It's an insider look that has given Shapiro a unique vantage point when she embarked in the latest chapter of her career: entrepreneur.
In 2014, Shapiro founded her own fragrance line, Ellis Brooklyn—which was named after her daughter and where she was born—after noticing the shift to eco-friendly and sustainable beauty products. And the move was increasingly important on a personal level too; she was a then-expectant mother. Why fragrance? It was the one category that was missing from the clean beauty movement—and, according to Shapiro, one of the most powerful tools a woman has.
“I've always been passionate about scent," explains Shapiro, who's expanding the brand to include skin and body care. "It's a completely different and invisible expression of self, if you think about it. I also love how scent is so genuine. You can't fake liking a scent.”
Here, we meet up with the mother of two and learn all her secret intel, from life hacks and self-care must-haves, to how she juggles it all.
I've been the New York Times beauty columnist for years now and it was in the middle of all that when I became pregnant with my daughter Ellis and was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I've always been passionate about scent—it's a completely different and invisible expression of self, if you think about it. I also love how scent is so genuine. You can't fake liking a scent. It was also around this time I became hyper aware of what I was eating and putting on my body. I felt like, and still feel like, I have something to say in scent—from the composition and quality of the actual ingredients to what is "attractive" in fragrance.
What clears my head...
Running. I am an extremely slow runner, but there is something about running outside that is so refreshing to me. I didn't become a four-season runner until about 2 years ago and it's a thing—you have gear, you're out there in the elements and it's pretty awesome.
Take a shower. It's silly, but I do some of my best thinking in the shower!
When I was pregnant with my daughter Sky, I was bleeding throughout so I was on bedrest for most of the pregnancy. After I had her, I ended up having basically zero maternity leave because I had signed a book deal with a very specific deadline that I couldn't move. That was a tough time. I was so depleted physically from the pregnancy and then with the birth and breastfeeding, and then I was supposed to be witty and clever at work. I got through it with an amazing baby nurse—nurse Lisa!— and also just taking one day at a time. If I thought bigger than that I would have gotten overwhelmed.
how i make it happen
1. First and foremost, caffeine! I drink either very strong Earl Grey tea with oat milk or a matcha latte with oat milk. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll put in a scoop of collagen powder.
2. I'm definitely a breakfast person. It can be simple, but I have to eat something. I love just some scrambled eggs and toast or oatmeal.
3. Also I probably never leave the house without drawing in my brows. I barely have any brow hair to speak of and if I don't draw them in I literally look still asleep.
1. During the early days of the pandemic, when we were on lockdown, I discovered the joy of Epsom salt baths. They also helped me sleep at night. Now, I have little time for baths, but I pop a magnesium before I go to bed and it does the trick.
2. Prioritize date night. I have a great boyfriend and it really took me having kids, getting a divorce and then being in a wonderful relationship to learn how valuable date night is. It's always tough to be away from the kids, but it's so worth it.
3. Plan a vacation way far in advance because you have something to look forward to and you get much better prices.
1. I put everything into Google calendar—my work and life stuff. Is there such a thing as work-life balance? I wouldn't know. I also schedule in workout times. This way I can't duck out easily—it's a meeting I have to take!
2. I take walks when I need to. Especially working from home mostly lately, I find I have no breaks. I love to just do a 30-minute walk when I have a moment. It resets me.
3. Fill your desk with little pleasures. By that I mean, I invested in a posh Yeti cup that keeps my water ridiculously cold. I have lovely ink pens that are a joy to scratch a paper with. I am surrounded by scents I love, of course. It's the little things that give cheer to a workday.
I have this gold Mejuri ring that one of my girl friends gave me after my divorce. I had stopped wearing rings altogether. It's funny how as women, we are so often judged and compared and admired by our wedding rings. They also hold a lot of identity. What happens when it's gone? I decided to stop wearing rings altogether. My friend, she had gone through a divorce before too and she said one thing she did was to build up her ring game for herself and herself only. It's a beautiful kind of rebuilding.
Don't wait, just do it.
Throw a belt on it. It's all about proportions for me. I have a small frame and anything oversize looks like a sack on me. Put on a belt and you're set!
Probably my high-waisted jeans. I have two different pairs that are very waist slimming but loose through the leg. I can't stand anything overly tight. I was never that girl who could run around in leggings all day.
What I would tell my younger self about getting dressed...
Stop trying to dress in trends that are meant for other people! For some reason in my 20s, I completely ignored what my figure actually was and went after clothes that I conceptually liked for whatever reason—they were trendy, etc. So much for that!
Wearing Veronica Beard makes me feel…
It makes me feel at ease and I mean that in the best of ways. I'm a little old school in that I am almost never in sweats and want to feel pulled together each day. But I still want to be comfortable. You can tell Veronica Beard is designed by women because the clothes are meant to be lived in.
I just binged Squid Games but that wrapped a couple weeks ago for me and now I'm on the search for a new show. I can't wait for the new Dune remake to come out. I've been listening to a mix of stuff lately. Lumineers and Mumford & Sons are easy to listen to. Ed Sheeran is so talented. But I also love techno! I went to Berghain in Berlin before the shutdown and it was ridiculously fun—I've been on a techno kick ever since.
I'm obsessed with body care lately. Something about the process of getting older makes you appreciate things you never expected to before, like the former texture of my body skin, ha! I've been layering our MYTH body oil with Marvelous CBD Extra Rich Cream lately. I live by Biologique Recherche P50—still the best. Also, I always start my day with a fragrance to set my mood. My usual is our MYTH Eau de Parfum, but during the pandemic I was using WEST, a bold citrus, quite a bit.
Favorite thing to do...
Play tennis. I played competitively in high school and then didn't play for years after that. I'm coming back to it and it's just such a beautiful game.
Favorite thing to make...
Chocolate chip pancakes. I've nailed my recipe after many tries and two very discerning tasters gave me feedback, ha.
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