Get to Know the Judges of the 2016 COSA Awards #COSA16
Every year, Cosmetics celebrates the best in Canadian beauty retail at our annual Cosmetics Outstanding Service Awards (click for tickets to our gala on Wednesday, November 16). But who determines our COSA winners, and how do they decide?
For the months-long judging process, we enlist a diverse panel of industry insiders, many of whom bring decades of experience in the beauty biz. Read on to get to know this year’s judges, and follow the 2016 COSA Awards on social media with the hashtag #COSA16.
MEET OUR #COSA16 JUDGES
Caitlin Agnew, Contributing Beauty Editor, Cosmetics
How did your career in the beauty industry begin? I started out in publishing as a fashion intern at FLARE, unpacking boxes of clothing and calling in samples. A few years later, while working as an assistant editor at Fashion, I filled in for a maternity leave in the beauty department. I have since written beauty stories for FLARE, Glow, The Kit, Chatelaine and The Globe and Mail.
What do you love most about your job? Getting to learn about all the behind-the-scenes stories. Most of the people who’ve made a career in beauty are extremely passionate, creative and hardworking.
Who do you look up to in the beauty industry? There are so many amazing and unique figures in this industry, it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve long admired François Nars for his ability to infuse an element of art into everything he does, from his runway looks to his product collaborations. I also think it’s great that he bought himself a private island in the South Pacific, which is exactly what I would do if I had his resources.
What has been your most outstanding service moment at a beauty counter so far? I recently took my mom to Sephora’s Sherway Gardens location to find a new powder foundation. As a 60-something stroke survivor, she can get overwhelmed in busy environments like Sephora, but the cast member who helped her was very patient and knowledgeable and made it a great experience.
What are the five beauty products you’d want if stranded on a deserted island? EOS lip balm, Marcelle BB Cream with SPF, Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate, a bar of carbolic soap, and a fully equipped CND nail tech to keep my acrylics on point. Is that cheating?
Vânia Aguiar, Executive Director of Vânia Le Blogue
How did your career in the beauty industry begin? I started 15 years ago as the beauty and fashion director of Elle Québec and Elle Canada Girl, where I discovered a world of great and passionate people. Everything from my interviews with celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Céline Dion to my collaborations with different brands and sharing the news with readers—it’s all been quite a humbling experience.
What do you love most about your job? Getting the scoop on beauty trends, meeting with established brands, interviewing the industry’s best experts and sharing my insider knowledge with readers. It’s always a great feeling to get an email or social media comment from someone who read an article that helped make their life a little more fun or made them feel more beautiful.
Who do you look up to in the beauty industry? I’m inspired by many in the industry, especially those who have something unique to offer and use their roles to make a difference by inspiring others.
What has been your most outstanding service moment at a beauty counter so far? The way an expert in fragrances was brilliantly able to catch my attention about one specific perfume brand.
What are the five beauty products you’d want if stranded on a deserted island? A super moisturizing face and body cream, a sunscreen with SPF 60, eye drops and liquid shower soap!
Barbara MacLellan, Professor, Makeup for Media and Creative Arts, Sheridan College
How did your career in the beauty industry begin? I have been teaching in the Esthetician Program and then the Makeup for Creative and Media Arts Program at Sheridan College for over 30 years. My first interest was makeup artistry because a book on astrology said my sign, Pisces, should pursue an artistic career path. Since my only artistic ability was related to makeup application, I decided to attend a makeup and skincare program in Toronto. Once enrolled, I fell in love with the science of skincare. One of the highlights of my career was winning the Award of Merit for initiative and achievement in the cosmetics industry from the Canadian Cosmetics Careers Association. Another was receiving the Teaching Excellence Award at Sheridan College.
What do you love most about your job? I enjoy interacting with the students. Their participation and interest make teaching worthwhile. Our learners also motivate me to stay on top of changes to our industry.
Who do you look up to in the beauty industry? Jean and Jane Ford, the founding twin sisters of Benefit Cosmetics, who started a tiny makeup boutique in 1976 in San Francisco. Today, their products are sold in over 30 countries. The sisters impress me with their ongoing ability to maintain the joy and passion that they brought to their original small business. Plus, who can resist the names of their products?
What has been your most outstanding service moment at a beauty counter so far? The beauty advisors at Shoppers Beauty Boutique at Oakville Place consistently demonstrate excellent customer service. When I visit, they know their stock and provide first-rate advice in a helpful and friendly manner. The advisors recommend products with a variety of high and low price points depending on their assessment of my needs. One beauty advisor always tries to find out if the skincare product I want is available in a promotional package, so I can take advantage of the special offer. They have my loyalty as a result of their exemplary service.
What are the five beauty products you’d want if stranded on a deserted island? Clearly, sunscreen would be a must! After that, I would need my serum with hyaluronic acid, an AHA exfoliant, a lash-lengthening mascara and Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez.
Mary Orlando, President, Featuring…You Spa & Salon
How did your career in the beauty industry begin? After graduating with a business degree and a major in finance at Ryerson, I quickly learned that beauty was in my DNA. I worked as a makeup artist while at school, and one day a photographer asked me to help him with models for the bridal show. The experience led me to create a makeup and hair agency, and then a day spa. I have been in the beauty industry for over 30 years. Being voted Gold Medal Winner for Best Spa in Forest Hill was definitely a career highlight, and so was winning the makeup and hair contracts for the National Bridal Show. I take pride in the fact that over the years I managed to build an extensive list of repeat clients, which continues to grow and earn second- and third-generation loyalty.
What do you love most about your job? I love the people, the products, the emotional connections and the fast pace. No two days are ever the same, and I especially love that “change is constant” in this industry. Change is not only good for our mind and body, it’s one of the most important factors in improving, expanding and growing as a person.
Who do you look up to in the beauty industry? Canadian entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss Spas, Soap & Glory, FitFlop and Foam and Substance. She sold Bliss Spas to LVMH in 1999 for a reported $30 million but didn’t stop there. She went on to develop successful beauty brands—it’s clear she’s passionate about our industry!
What are the five beauty products you’d want if stranded on a deserted island? Only five? They would be Guinot sunscreen, Pleine Vie face cream, Shu Uemura lash curler, Dior brow pencil and Saryna Key haircare.
Wing Sze Tang
Wing Sze Tang, Editor, Cosmetics
How did your career in the beauty industry begin? I started working in magazine publishing more than 13 years ago, and early in my career, became the health editor at Fashion. The health and beauty beats share some common ground—they’re both about helping people feel and look their best—so I gradually began to cover both. Eventually, I landed in FLARE’s beauty department, where I spent nearly five years, most recently serving as the acting beauty director, before shifting over here to Cosmetics.
What do you love most about your job? It’s never boring. Beauty is fast-paced, multifaceted and fun in so many different ways. Depending on the story, the angle could be scientific or artistic or cultural. On any given day, I could be interviewing an R&D PhD on their innovations, gleaning techniques from a makeup genius, or figuring out how the trends reflect our changing world. There’s always someone fascinating to meet and something new to learn.
Who do you look up to in the beauty industry? I’m inspired by the success of Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss. She turned her “side project” blog into a buzzy, full-fledged brand with its own product line—and reportedly raised more than $10 million in venture backing—all within four years. In such a competitive industry, she defined her point of view so distinctly.
What has been your most outstanding service moment at a beauty counter so far? I’m impressed by anyone who prioritizes taking the time to really help me over making a quick and easy sale.
What are the five beauty products you’d want if stranded on a deserted island? Sunscreens, obvs (one for face, one for body). Tinted moisturizer (♥ Nars Pure Radiant), tubing mascara and a bold lippy.
Mickey Tortorelli, founder and CEO, beauteschool.com
How did your career in the beauty industry begin? I've been working in the beauty industry for 38 amazing years. My career began as a beauty advisor for Eatons at Yorkdale, and then I went on to work for several cosmetics and fragrance vendors as a territory manager and regional sales manager. My career highlights have included the recognition by the vendor community for “the best trained beauty advisors in the industry” when I was the national education manager of cosmetics and fragrances for Sears Canada. Additionally, I launched the first national demo agency in Canada with my company Temprodemo, and most recently developed BeauteSchool, an award-winning beauty brand online training platform for more than 11,000 beauty advisors.
What do you love most about your job? My satisfaction comes from knowing we can provide beauty advisors with online training at their fingertips, wherever and whenever they need it, and because of this they are able to serve their customers with professionalism and confidence. Also, hearing from hundreds of our members who tell us they love what we do!
Who do you look up to in the beauty industry? There are many people in this industry who I admire and have learned from, but one person who is very special is my fellow educator and friend Pat Clare.
What has been your most outstanding service moment at a beauty counter so far? It was with a fragrance advisor who was an expert in fragrance classifications and impressed me with her vast knowledge. I asked her to recommend a new fragrance and let her know about my favourites. Based on this information, she was able to recommend three other fragrances similar to the ones I loved and proceeded to tell me all about their notes and history. She was able to describe them with such an incredible vocabulary that I almost bought all three. Her knowledge and passion made it such a pleasure to shop from her.
What are the five beauty products you’d want if stranded on a deserted island? How can I choose only five? I’d say my must-haves would be Shiseido Benefiance Extra Creamy Cleansing Foam, Avène Eau Thermale, Shiseido Ultimune, Chanel Le Lift Crème-Huile Réparatrice and lavender essential oil.