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Anaïs Millette

Career interview: working at Chanel & L'Oreal

Lucette Voogsgeerd (The Newton’s guest-editor, read her columns here) interviewed Anaïs Millette over a coffee at Buvette in The West Village. They’ve met only a few months ago via classes at New York University (NYU) and connected from the beginning. Anaïs (Canadian/Mexican, 1979) is an inspiring and sweet person with an amazing, international background. She has worked in the beauty industry her whole life, including L’oreal and Chanel, and moved to New York with her fiancé beginning of 2015 where she works as a consultant for a beauty startup. She is the right person to ask about her adventures, changes in her life, career, finding her wedding dress and life in New York. Find out everything below! 

Tell us a bit about yourself! You’re half Mexican, half Canadian from the French speaking part of Canada, sounds exciting!

Haha, I guess!  Nobody believes I’m part Mexican! When he was 19, my father, who is half Mexican and half Scottish, went on a trip to Montreal where he met my mother and that was it! My first language is Spanish as I was was raised in Mexico city until I was 3 years old. I then learned English and French in Montreal. I’ve lived in Montreal until last year, when I decided to be with my fiance who was relocated to NYC for his work. 

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When you were growing up, what was your dream job?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a heart surgeon. I think just because it sounded cool!  But that went out the window pretty quickly!  Then in my early teens, I was absolutely fascinated by the esthetics of the beauty advertising campaigns.  My mom worked in advertising so when I used to come home from high school she would always bring back a lot of magazines from work. I would spend hours looking at the ads and how the girls wore makeup in the fashion editorials. I went to a private girl school and would always wear dark burgundy lipstick that the teachers would ask me to remove. But I loved it, because it was a way for me to experiment and create my identity as we all wore uniforms. Since then I was hooked and decided I want to work in that industry. And that’s what happened, I’ve been working in cosmetics for more than 13 years now. For me, beauty, or the beauty industry, gives a way for women to express themselves, to tell a story the way clothes do.

What was your first job after University?
In University I studied fashion marketing as I thought it was the closest thing to the beauty world, in a way, everything is connected. But I never ended up working in fashion (except for a small internship I did when I was in University). After I finished my bachelor’s degree, a classmate of mine who was working as an assistant buyer for the beauty department for a high end store chain called me up as she was leaving for something else. That’s how it all started.  The department store chain is now closed but it was really great back then.  We had brands nobody else had at the time; Helena Rubinstein, Versace makeup, Cargo, Benefit, Anna Sui.. It was so much fun! I met a lot of people in the beauty industry. After that, I worked as an account executive at L’Oreal for a couple of years, then worked in merchandising, joined the marketing team at Chanel Canada for 5 years and recently did some consulting. I have experienced a lot of different aspects within the industry.

What was your job title at Chanel and what were your responsibilities?
When I first joined, I was working in marketing for Fragrances. I helped launch Bleu de Chanel on the Canadian market. I then switched to beauty 6 months later. I was eventually given the responsibility to grow the skincare line. It was a new position and I had to prove myself!  I love taking on new challenges and take projects to the next level. So as a Skincare Product Manager, I had to oversee the marketing strategy for the Canadian market.  My responsibilities included liaising with the Canadian retailers, planning the yearly calendars, support the sales team, review pricing, produce all point of sale marketing and merchandising material, make sure we complied to the rules of Health Canada…  In addition to that position, I also took on the role as CRM Manager. And then, the Makeup Product Manager went on maternity leave and I took that role as well.  So I was responsible of 3 positions and 3 budgets for a bit more than a year (maternity leave is 1 year in the province of Quebec).  I would say it was quite a challenge but it was also so much fun.  The team was great and we had so many laughs together and I made amazing friendships there.  It was really hard to leave them behind.

You probably traveled a lot for work, which cities did you fall in love with?
We had to go Paris for annual marketing meetings. It was such a big and important event for us to go to and I always saw it as a such a great reward for the work we had done . It was always super exciting.  I would say I have amazing memories going there with the team and with Paris you can’t really go wrong, it definitely never get’s old. But we mostly traveled all over Canada for store visits and meeting with our retailers, to ensure we provided the best customer experience.  

And then you decided to move to New York! Why did you move from Montreal to New York?
I had worked for the company for 5 years and my fiance was relocated to NYC for his work. I thought it was a good timing and was excited about the opportunity of being in a new city, especially New York!  It was an opportunity I could not pass up.

What job do you have in NYC?
I work as a consultant. Currently I am working as a freelance marketing manager for a beauty startup, it is based out of Mexico city. One of my previous bosses called me, because being half Mexican, knowing the language and the culture and my beauty background, she thought I was a good asset for her company.  She is such a brilliant person and has a great vision. The brand is launching in 2016. We really look into everything – from ingredients to packaging. It’s really fun to start from scratch and see everything being build up.  Besides my consulting work, I take a Digital Marketing class at NYU (New York University) as I wanted a to be a bit more knowledgable on the subject.  Digital marketing strategies are such a big focus for companies now and I felt this class could just add value to my existing skills.  

You live in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Why did you choose to live there?
My fiancé is the one who chose this neighborhood, he sent me pictures when I was still back in Montreal. We wanted to live in Manhattan, because, well, if I had the chance to live in NYC, it had to be in Manhattan.  Live the experience to the fullest! And we wanted to be in a  very lively neighbourhood. There are many bars, restaurants and shops on every corner, it’s all very convenient. Most of the time, when we go out with friends, it’s in our area. And I’m completely fine with all the noise, I actually love the craziness and non stop action.

How would you describe your life in NYC? Living the dream or hard work?
I try to make the most out of it and I understand I am quite lucky to have this opportunity. So I feel it is sort of a dream! I met great people and there are so many things to do all the time that I really don’t have many negatives. The only thing maybe is that I don’t have an outdoor space in my apartment, that’s the only thing I miss. But other than that, the past year has truly been a great experience.  

Friday night or Sunday morning in NYC?
For sure Friday night, I’m not a big brunch person. No brunch line up for me! I’m definitely a night person, not necessarily Friday. I like to go out, have fun, dance to awesome music and meet people.  I usually end up in LES and Williamsburg for bars. We almost never plan, but those are the nights I actually like the most, when it’s super spontaneous.

Is there anything you miss about Montreal?
My family and friends! Besides that, It’s really about the space, I’ve always had a backyard and terrace to do BBQ’s. Oh, and I miss the bagels!

Besides your exciting career you are planning your wedding, congratulations! Tell us about the proposal!
It happened in May 2015, right before my birthday. He said he had something planned for me, but I already had everything organised for that day, so I kind of mixed up his plans without realising it. He was very nicely dressed and I was wearing baggy jeans, very relaxed. I didn’t understand why he was so dressed up! But he likes to really dress up from time to time so I just thought it was one of those days! He took me to the middle of Central Park under a huge cherry blossom tree. He took his GoPro that he placed nearby and we started taking pictures. Then, he went down on one knee and proposed to me. So we actually have pictures of the whole moment, even from my reaction when he proposed. It was really romantic and so sweet. That picture was on our “Save the date” invite we send to our guests.

What type of wedding day are you dreaming about?
We will get married in Montreal, that’s where we met and my family and friends live there. But most of our guests live all over the world, a lot of them are actually living in NYC, but Montreal was always the city I would get married in. Besides that, we just want everyone to have fun!  I don’t have a princess type wedding in mind.  I just want to share this day with all the people I have close to my heart.  Having said that, I will admit that I still have the image of Stephanie Seymour in Gun’s and Roses November Rain video in my head.  I think she was the most gorgeous bride!

Have you found your PERFECT dress yet?
I had an idea in mind but I was getting  stressed as I tried so many dresses in different stores but I wasn’t getting the “wow” effect! Finally, I found it a few months ago in Montreal, it was a relief! The dress is actually nothing like what I had envisioned, but it’s perfect! The first place I went to was Kleinfeld in NYC because of the TV show and felt I had to live that experience. I didn’t get to meet Randy (!) (Randy Fenoli is an American television presenter who is mainly known for his work on the tv show Say Yes to the Dress) and I didn’t say yes to the dress.  However, I did find my shoes in NYC at Barneys on a day I wasn’t looking for anything! That’s usually how it happens, when you least expect it!

Oh and of course, I have to ask about your beauty products! What kind of products do you use?
I’m definitely a beauty junkie. I try so many different products. I have a preference for skincare, whereas in the past I started out experimenting a lot with make-up; eyeshadows, highlighting and everything from very early on. I just think it’s really fun to see your face transform. But now it’s very much toned down and I really make sure I take good care of my skin. I love face oils (Argan Oil) for nightime. And I still use a lot of CHANEL products.  Not just because I worked there but they are truly great products that have given me results! I love the skincare ritual; Le Jour, La Nuit, Le Weekend from CHANEL. They are meant to resynchronize your skin on a day-night-weekend ritual. I did the launch for this product myself :)

From your beauty stash you probably had in Montreal; which ones did you bring to NYC?
I almost brought all my skin care! I like to pamper myself with masks and try out different products. I have boxes full in Montreal, but I really had to make a selection, it’s mostly skin care, lipsticks (I have a lot!) and nail polish. I usually do manicures myself because I like to change color pretty frequently and I also find it calming , but pedicures definitely in a salon.

Are there any other cities you would like to live in the future?
Hopefully! There are so many great cities out there, we’ll see what happens!

Anaïs is wearing:

Coat: ZARA
Jeans: MANGO
Top: TOPSHOP
Shoes: CHANEL

Anaïs MilletteFAVORITES
CITY GUIDE ANAÏS MILLETTE / NYC

Dinner: Schiller's Liquor Bar

Love the atmosphere, food is good.. great to bring friends that are visiting.

CITY GUIDE ANAÏS MILLETTE / NYC

Bagels: Black seed

They only ones that I can eat here are from Black Seed bagel on Elizabeth street.  One of the owners is from Montreal so that’s why (Montreal is known for its bagels) Montreal bagels win over NYC bagels!

CITY GUIDE ANAÏS MILLETTE / NYC

Mexican food: La Esquina

As part Mexican, I do need my fix from time to time.  La Esquina is always great!  In summer, I go to the one in Williamsburg as they have a nice outdoor section.  You need to have the hot Chocolate.  Mexican hot chocolate is the best!

CITY GUIDE ANAÏS MILLETTE / NYC

Coffee: Spiegel

They serve Verve coffee, seriously the best. I brought friends and family there and they all said it was amazing. Besides that place, I have and Italian stovetop coffee maker at home as I’m too picky for coffee. I drink mine black and it has to be perfect.

CITY GUIDE ANAÏS MILLETTE / NYC

Dinner: Remedy

Because they have everything and its next to my house. Best for the day after partying, hence the name Remedy, haha!

CITY GUIDE ANAÏS MILLETTE / NYC

Brunch: Freemans

Really cool place, in the back of an alley which makes it even better to go to!