Meet This Year’s Best in Beauty Retail: Profiles of the 2015 COSA Winners

Event photography: Jenna Wakani

Event photography: Jenna Wakani


(Cliquez ici pour lire en français.)

On November 19, Cosmetics and leaders in the Canadian beauty industry came together to celebrate the 2015 Cosmetics Outstanding Service Awards (COSAs). Held at the landmark Fairmont Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto, the evening honoured the country’s best customer service in beauty retail, provided by both individuals and teams.

Each year, our judges are beyond impressed by the achievements, dedication and innovation demonstrated by the nominees, who consistently find ways to set new standards at cosmetics counters across the country. With more than 1,400 nominations this year, choosing the winners was, once again, a formidable challenge. After months of meetings and careful deliberations, our panel selected the very best of the best in 17 categories.

Congratulations to all of our nominees and winners for their devotion and hard work in helping Canadians feel their most beautiful every day of the year!

(To re-watch the 2015 COSA gala, please click here.)

Winner profiles by Lauren Kerbel


Best Service by a Drugstore Team

Vancouver, BC

With a combined total of 104 years of beauty experience, it’s no wonder this team has achieved its extraordinary level of success. Working together to open this location’s Beauty Boutique (which celebrated its first anniversary in August), they spent three months preparing and learning together, which strengthened not only their selling abilities, but also their ability to adapt to each member’s personality and strengths. Led by boutique manager Megan Shakespeare, this team takes a collaborative approach to making all customers feel beautiful, special and confident.

Not pictured: Simer Kambo and Yasmine Khan

From left: Brooklyn Prior, Kassia Lee, Alyssa Rios Garcia, Vesna Markov, Jessica Ironside and Christina DraY

From left: Brooklyn Prior, Kassia Lee, Alyssa Rios Garcia, Vesna Markov, Jessica Ironside and Christina DraY

From left: Megan Shakespeare, Reagan Evangeline, Erin Mitchell and Alyssa Wandler

From left: Megan Shakespeare, Reagan Evangeline, Erin Mitchell and Alyssa Wandler

From left: Azita Maghsoudi, Karla Lailhacar, Targol Saeedzadeh and Yolanda Cui

From left: Azita Maghsoudi, Karla Lailhacar, Targol Saeedzadeh and Yolanda Cui

From left: Nisa Prehofer and Mandy Spotswood

From left: Nisa Prehofer and Mandy Spotswood

Best Service by a Department Store Team

Hudson’s Bay, Kelowna, BC

From their first day together, this pair established an amazing partnership. Inspiring their department with their positive outlook, this hard-working duo has earned their counter “Elite Status” two years in a row. Mandy’s exceptional coaching skills and guidance have taught Nisa how to become a successful, caring beauty advisor. From assisting clients in selecting holiday gifts to helping a breast cancer survivor regain her confidence, they ensure everyone who visits their counter leaves inspired, less stressed and with a better understanding of all things beauty.


Lifetime Achievement Award: Best Service in a Drugstore

Jean Coutu, Lachenaie, QC

Now celebrating five decades in the beauty industry, Solange began her career in the small cosmetics department of a pharmacy. But seeing the attractively made-up hostesses of the pavilions at Montreal’s Expo 67 inspired her to move to a more modern drugstore, where she went on to build a career by helping her clients find happiness through beauty. Over the years, Solange has adapted her high standard of customer service to fit the constantly evolving cosmetics industry, always sharing her contagious joie de vivre with clients and colleagues alike. Solange has been a member of the Jean Coutu 208 team for 11 years, exhibiting the same passion since day one.


Lifetime Achievement Award: Best Service in a Department Store

Hudson’s Bay, Chanel Counter, Toronto, ON

With 50 years of experience (and counting), this industry vet has an impressive resumé filled with stints at Chanel and Estée Lauder, plus a few years at Guerlain managing the Toronto boutique. If that wasn’t enough, she also opened her own cosmetics store in Hong Kong (which she describes as being “like Sephora, but bigger”), where she managed 150 employees. Jane had a brief retirement in 2007, but wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to her life’s work. Despite her business acumen, she would rather be on the floor helping customers than sitting behind a desk. Today, as the Chanel counter manager, she forms close friendships with her clients and does everything in her power to make them happy—even if that means getting a friend to purchase products overseas, as she once did when a customer asked about an item available only in Asia.


Rookie of the Year: Best Service in a Drugstore

Shoppers Drug Mart, New Glasgow, NS

This newbie has impressed colleagues with her natural talent for customer service in her eight short months as a cosmetician. Morgan’s confidence and attentiveness make it easy for customers of all ages to trust her with their most personal beauty questions, and she’s especially in her element when young customers come into the store. The 19-year-old knows how intimidating a beauty department can be and is always eager to pass on what she’s learned.


Rookie of the Year: Best Service in a Department or Specialty Store

Murale, Ottawa, ON

Whether she’s solving skincare woes or spending two hours teaching someone how to use every type of product they own (true story), this rookie has a talent for making every customer feel like a
VIP. After just one year in her current role as Murale’s events coordinator, Lauren has demonstrated a commitment to her clients that goes above and beyond. This year, she led a charity gala that raised more than $5,000 for potentially life-saving stem cell treatments, all to support a client’s daughter with muscular dystrophy.


Best Service in a Drugstore, Peer Nominated

Shoppers Drug Mart, Dieppe, NB

Shannon’s original career plan was to become a police officer, but after falling into a position at a Clinique counter, she knew she was meant to help others in a completely different way. Now, as a Beauty Boutique manager, she is a mentor to her BAs and frequently trains those preparing to take on managerial roles. To date, six of her beauty advisors have gone on to become counter managers at other stores. Shannon is also dedicated to giving back to her community, helping her location become one of the top fundraising stores in the region for two years.


Best Service in a Department or Specialty Store, Peer Nominated

Sephora, Calgary, AB

Described by her peers as one of the most experienced and talented makeup artists in the store, this colour consultant has mastered the art of making a customer’s day. Once, after a disastrous salon makeup trial, a distraught bride-to-be came into Sephora seeking help. She expected to be disappointed yet again, but was pleasantly surprised when she saw that Liu had listened carefully to what she wanted, resulting in her perfect bridal makeup look. The store regularly receives glowing reviews from Liu’s customers, each of whom she remembers by name, even months after their first visit.


Best Service in a Drugstore, Retailer Nominated

Rexall, Waterloo, ON

Anna started out in the industry working as a freelance makeup artist and volunteering at charity events. Her passion for helping others is what drives her every day; she knows how much of a difference a friendly face can make and considers herself a kind of therapist, as well as a cosmetician. She listens attentively to discern what her customers need and always lets them know how much she appreciates their business, attaching a thank-you note to every receipt. 


Best Service in a Department Store, Retailer Nominated

Sears, Lancôme Counter, Guelph, ON

Sisban’s patience and kindness have allowed her to build relationships with some of the trickiest clients. She spent months gaining the trust of one particularly hard-to-please customer, who now refuses to shop with anyone else. Her clients become so loyal because they know she will always go out of her way to help them, even if it means coming in on her day off or making special arrangements to give them privacy during their appointments.


Best Service in a Drugstore Store, Vendor Nominated

Shoppers Drug Mart, London, ON

Katarina’s career in beauty retail began 17 years ago when she was hired as a holiday gift wrapper. Soon, colleagues in the fragrance department noticed her easy way with customers and told her she’d make a great demo. From there she quickly moved up the ranks, eventually landing a manager position at the Elizabeth Arden counter before moving to Shoppers Drug Mart when it opened the first Beauty Boutique in London.


Best Service in a Department or Specialty Store, Vendor Nominated

Hudson’s Bay, Lancôme Counter, Toronto, ON

When it comes to customer service, Mai Lan’s motto is to treat everyone like a member of her family. Her clients are just as devoted to her as she is to them, and have been known to follow her every time she moves to a new location. Sometimes her dedication even takes her away from the counter: when a long-time client could no longer come into the store because she was too busy, Mai Lan started doing consultations at the customer’s newly opened restaurant.


Best Service by a Part-Time Associate

Hudson’s Bay, Shiseido & Elizabeth Arden Counters, Vernon, BC

This manager’s desire to help people doesn’t stop when she leaves her counter, and she can often be seen helping customers elsewhere in the mall, whether or not she’s on duty. Always willing to go the extra mile (or 30) for her clients, Gail frequently calls upon her network of BAs at other stores to shuttle over a product for a customer when she runs out of stock, and she happily returns the favour. Gail is also an accomplished photographer and is often found behind the lens on special occasions, such as Mother’s Day events, taking portraits for her customers.


Best Service by a Fragrance Advisor

Hudson’s Bay, Toronto, ON

Before beginning his career in cosmetics, Marco was a sales associate in menswear who’d earned a reputation for planning unforgettable VIP events. It wasn’t long before a savvy manager recruited him to fragrance, sensing he’d be an asset to her team and a great fit for the department. After 14 years in the industry, Marco is still garnering praise from customers and colleagues alike for his legendary events, which are always highly anticipated.


Best Service by a Demonstrator

LVMH Fragrances, Parfums Givenchy, Toronto, ON

In her nearly 30 years as a fragrance-selling specialist, Seeta has proven herself truly talented. By paying close attention to her customers’ needs, she constantly exceeds targets, without resorting to pushy sales tactics. Once, Seeta managed to sell $4,500 of products before customers even set foot in the store for a promotion. In addition to running VIP and counter events, Seeta coordinates outbound events at her clients’ offices.


Best Service by a Trainer

Lancôme, Toronto, ON

As a regional trainer for Ontario and the Maritimes, Kim is both a teacher and a mentor, and always uses a personal touch to make her sessions memorable. She goes out of her way to ensure her trainees succeed, giving them one-on-one coaching in-store and providing them with tools. For instance, when a new manager was faced with information overload, Kim compiled a binder with all of the necessary details to help her stay organized. Copies of Kim’s reference materials are now used at other Lancôme counters to help incoming managers get a handle on their new responsibilities.


Best Service by a Vendor Sales Rep

Smashbox Cosmetics, Calgary, AB

Working hard behind the scenes for a brand focused on makeup artistry, Manal knows how important technical skills are for successfully selling Smashbox products. She often goes into her stores to give her BAs one-on-one brand training, checking in via FaceTime if she can’t make it in person. She even initiated a special training program for Shoppers Drug Mart beauty experts, led by a Smashbox artistry trainer, to help them perfect makeup and sales techniques.