Watier created her own cosmetic line 38 years ago because she saw a need that was not being met. “I operated a finishing school for young women where I helped educate them in different aspects of how to dress, wear makeup, and be at their best,” she said. “I decided to go into business in cosmetics because I could not find any brands in the market that would satisfy my criteria for beauty.”
Running the school, Watier had a ready pool of students to test the products. “My students were faithful and could help expand and elaborate upon the products,” she said.
There have been many changes in the cosmetics industry in the past 38 years, but through all that time, Watier said she has insisted on putting the creation of high quality products for her customers first. “The changes in the industry have been tremendous,” she said. “There are new players, new retailers, and new philosophies on beauty, but the needs are always there because women are going to buy cosmetics to feel better, look more beautiful, and look their best. There is an element of seduction when you wear makeup, even if it is only to seduce yourself in the mirror.”
Watier said the company makes it a point to offer products that are fun and imaginative. “We enjoy what we do and have fun with the products, but our strength comes from the fact that we never compromise on quality,” she said. “That’s what has kept us going and growing for the past 38 years.”
A “younique” approach
The company has made some big recent investments to spread the word about its cosmetic products. Two new beauty ambassadors—well-loved and well-known Canadian TV personalities—have come onboard, one for the French-Canadian market and one for the English-speaking Canadian market.
The company recently signed a deal to become a sponsor of the popular “So You Think You Can Dance” Canada television show. “We’ve also invested in new billboards in the Toronto area with the ‘Younique Like You’ tagline,” said Watier.
Watier is a market leader in Canada, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t interested in expanding to other areas. “We do business in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, and we are also in talks with a retailer in China, so this is a very interesting time for us,” Watier said. “We are looking at the US and where and how we can make investments there.”
An upcoming new website and a plan to begin online sales by the end of the year should also expand the company’s worldwide reach, according to Watier. “With our new website, we want to get women more involved in our community,” she said. “They can participate in recommending new products and become part of our research team. It’s something quite different and exciting.”
Lise Watier carries over 400 skin care, cosmetic, and fragrance products and takes a multifaceted approach to developing new products. In addition to soliciting input from its customers, the company works with local universities and has several scientists on staff to help develop products.
“For the past five years we’ve been working on a special new ingredient from a wild plant that grows in the Boreal Forest of Northern Quebec,” said Watier. “We will be launching the product in the next few months, and it is the most powerful antioxidant that exists. We’re very excited that we will be using something that comes from our country and was developed with local universities.”
The attention to detail and development extends beyond the products themselves. Watier said designing attractive packaging for the products is part of the appeal.
“I’m very sensitive to textures, and our packaging is unique when it comes to the look and the textures,” Watier said. “When a woman brings a compact or lipstick case, she likes to have something that is beautiful. I think the beauty of a product has to be more than just on the inside, it has to be all around.”
A community of caring
Lise Watier’s customers are extremely loyal, both because of the high quality products and because of the company’s commitment to community and charity. “Neiges is the number one selling fragrance in Canada (in units) and has been on the market for 17 years,” said Watier. “It has faithful customers around the world.”
Another of the company’s biggest sellers is the rose tendresse (tender pink) lipstick, in large part because 100% of the revenue from the product supports the Lise Watier Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to help women in need across Canada. The company has just opened the Lise Watier Pavilion in Montreal, which makes public housing available to homeless women who wish to reintegrate society. They can stay there until they get back on their feet, according to Watier.
“Women are happy to participate and help other women in need across the country,” Watier said. “The foundation means a lot to me because of who we are as a company. It’s important for us give back to women, and there are many more women in need than you can imagine.”
As the company continues to grow across the globe and on the web, Watier said the focus would remain on providing products that are fun and exciting. “If a product isn’t exciting, there’s no reason for it to be on the market,” she said. “We will never compromise on excitement and quality.”