Updated: Jan 21, 2019

When I was asked to launch a new beauty website for Hearst in 2009, I knew I need to break through the clutter of beauty brands and offer something truly original: A personalized experience.

Based on my past experience with iVillage Beauty and Unilever in the late 1990s, I knew that women didn't perceive beauty as a one-size-fits-all proposition. Research showed that women's had beauty needs that were highly individualistic. So when Hearst tasked me with launching a new beauty brand, featuring expertise from iconic beauty brands like Marie Claire and Redbook, I knew the time had come to offer a fully customizable experience. My concept was simple: If you have curly hair, content for curly hair would display instead of straight hair; if you were African-American, content for black skin would be displayed; and so on. To do this right, we commissioned and tagged thousands of articles in dozens of categories, and I worked with the tech team to develop my idea of a "Beauty Book," which displayed personalized beauty advice to the user based on a series of questions. But we didn't stop there: To be relevant to today's woman, I didn't want to send the message taht to be beautiful, you had to only focus on outer beauty. After all, any woman knows that to look your best, you need to feel your best! So we also commissioned and offered health and wellness content. Ultimately, the brand became Real Beauty, and we launched in less than 3 months with over 3,000 articles covering everything from skin care to fragrance to hairstyle and more; original columns and features; dozens of photo slideshows and galleries; quizzes; and, of course, a personalized beauty book experience.