Daniel Chávez sees himself empowering women and their
make-up as he travels the globe for Smashbox Cosmetics by Jack Yan
issue 21 of Lucire
Daniel Chavez is exactly how I imagined him to be after reading
his bio. As the man behind Smashbox Cosmetics’ international artistry
and education—Chavez appears on the home-shopping networks around
the world repping the brand—I pictured an outgoing man, a great
speaker and a quick talker, driven by his passion for the product.
Chavez has his fans. Go online and you’ll find
conversations dedicated to the man and his make-up expertise, and
comparisons with Timber Gooding, who appeared on the shopping channel
QVC before him. ‘Daniel seems a fun
sort of guy,’ commented one viewer.
Visiting New Zealand for the first time, Chavez
was impressed with the country’s attitude. Prior to his visit to
New Zealand, Australia was a favourite for the make-up expert; no
wonder, given that northern California is his real home. Because
of the similarity in cultures, he understands the antipodean attitude,
and was enjoying his first week in Auckland.
He has been at Smashbox longer than almost everyone,
‘except [founders] Dean and Davis [Factor—see Lucire March
2006],’ he proudly states. After nine years at Smashbox, we can
only think of Holly Mordini, who appears on QVC
in the United States, as having a longer service than Chavez, by
The story began with Chavez, a competitive ballroom
dancer, wanting a bit of extra money for competitions, and he spotted
an opportunity at Smashbox. ‘I have seen this company grow. I ran
their first counter in San Francisco. There were 38 kinds of nail
polish—now, we do not even carry it.
‘We did not want to be the same as everyone else.
[Therefore,] I liked Smashbox: it had a story. It had a photographic
studio. There was no age limit. It was very fashion-forward and
was for the everyday make-up user,’ he says.
It’s that everyday nature that has made Smashbox
a hit. Chavez once told Irish television that he had tips for glamourizing
a woman’s look in under five minutes, a claim we had to take, after
witnessing hundreds (if not thousands) of make-up sessions over
the years. But Chavez defends this—and has proven it on television.
While one needs some knowledge of make-up, he
says that he would not have made the claim if he did not believe
‘Smashbox makes it easy with make-up application.
I show as much as I can with the video demonstration. We give you
the tools to make application effortless. We always work the same
way,’ he says.
It’s that almost-modular approach to make-up that
Chavez believes is about ‘empowering women to do it themselves.’
Although a few enjoy the pampering and Chavez
has delivered. ‘I’ve worked on everyone from Julia Roberts to Hilary
Duff.’ And for about 10 times, he had worked on his ‘favourite,’
Carmen Electra. ‘But Carmen has signed with Max Factor’—which means
she has to work with Max Factor’s make-up artists, according to
Outside the celebrity world, Chavez is a well
travelled man as he goes around the world with his infectious love
for the Smashbox brand. He appears on QVC
in the UK (previously in the US),
TVSN in Australia (five times a year),
and QVC Japan (four times). He will
appear on a Korean equivalent.
Chavez notes the difference in consumer purchases
depending on the nation. In Korea, he finds that buyers tend to
buy kits. ‘Anti-shine primer, concealer, powder, foundation—they
buy all in one go,’ he recalls. In Japan, ‘Women love make-up.’
He continues, ‘They are not used to someone like
me. I’m so out there. After they saw me, the hosts wanted me to
do their own make-up. There was a line outside!’
He credits his outspoken nature as how he bridges
cultures: despite a Spanish surname, Chavez does not speak much
of that language, and Japanese and Korean TV
sees him speaking English. But he knows what he is talking about—‘people
trust and understand me. I have enthusiasm, and make-up should not
be a chore.
‘Dean Factor said that I was "more passionate
about the brand than we [Dean and Davis] are."’
Make-up, he believes, should never put women into
a ‘rut,’ and that his demonstrations lead them to think, ‘Let’s
just try it,’ he says.
He sees his future continuing with Smashbox, and
has moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the head office. When Lucire interviewed
him, he had been there for around one month—as in, he moved there
a month ago, but hadn’t had time to chill out in his new home. In
fact, he wasn’t even sure of where he could eat out, given that
northern and southern California might as well be two different
countries in their outlook.
‘I am in Venice Beach, which is the most diverse
part, but I travel 95 per cent of my life.’
However, by being at Smashbox Studios, Chavez
can feed back his findings from his travels immediately into the
new product development process. ‘At the Studios, I can make more
decisions: creating more lipsticks, foundations, etc.’
It would not be unfair to say he is Smashbox’s
product-development czar. ‘I put all the colour kits together. I
have to believe in it 100 per cent.’ He has full creative control
over his work.
He is particularly proud of Smashbox and its independent
nature. ‘They were approached by Leonard Lauder himself, and by
Lancôme. Other brands have sold out, but Dean and Davis have
100 per cent. They believe in the brand.’•
‘They are not used to someone like me. I’m so out
there. After they saw me, the hosts wanted me to do their own make-up.
There was a line outside!’