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Bee ShapiroEllis Brooklyn

As a beauty columnist for The New York Times, Bee Shapiro saw firsthand the lack of cleanly formulated fragrances available on the market. Inspired by the possibility of what she could create, Bee launched Ellis Brooklyn in 2015 to fill this unmet need and expand the range of clean beauty categories.

What drove you to start your own brand? I’d been working as the beauty columnist at The New York Times for about 6 years or so when I became pregnant with my first daughter, Ellis, and was living in Brooklyn—that’s why the name! I was obsessed with scent and still am because it’s the only category of beauty that is so difficult to put into words and, as a writer, that was the ultimate conundrum and challenge. There were almost no clean scent brands out there at the time, and I was very much into the clean beauty wave that was happening. I love that women founders were changing the conversation and really advocating for every woman out there with clean and safe ingredients. That’s where the idea of a clean and sustainable brand, Ellis Brooklyn, was born. Launching was another matter, though! Dreams are wonderful things, but when made into reality—it’s actually a long journey of finding the right suppliers and people to work with. At the end of the day, this industry is about people, and I love that about it!
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"I love that women founders were changing the conversation and really advocating for every woman out there with clean and safe ingredients. That’s where the idea of a clean and sustainable brand, Ellis Brooklyn, was born."

What’s your favorite product in the line? My favorite is Myth because I actually created it for myself. I wanted something clean, but also sexy—like a swath of clean, sunwarmed skin peeking out from your t-shirt on a Sunday morning. I also wanted something subtle where you had to lean in to smell it. I love the idea of intimacy with Myth, like you’re leaning over to tell a lover a secret.

What’s your morning and evening routine? My morning is super quick because I have my girls, and they are a handful to get out the door! I wash my face with a super gentle wash, focusing on my T-zone only. Then I do a serum and a mineral-based SPF. After that, it’s matcha, matcha and more matcha. I basically can’t function without matcha now.

My nighttime routines are much more involved. Every week, I’ll exfoliate with glycolic and lactic acids, and then use a microneedle dermaroller. Immediately after, while my pores are still open, I’ll use a couple of different serums. I love niacinamide as an ingredient. I might put on eye cream, depending on the weather and how my crow’s feet look. On top of that, I’ll put on a rich cream. I’m not messing around at night with gel creams—I need the heavy stuff.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I’m a great baker! I think it’s a chemistry thing, but I can tinker with recipes pretty easily. What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business? Have a real vision—one that can include many others—and then plan, but don’t overplan. So much of starting something is just getting in the weeds and doing it.
Ellis Broklyn products
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The Founders Series
Learn how some of the beauty industry’s most dynamic entrepreneurs find inspiration and develop must-have products as they share their advice for aspiring business moguls and much more