Why your own brand and why now?
I have been at Estée Lauder for a long time as creative director and in the industry for 20 years. When I turned 40, I thought it was a good time to try something new. I think 40 represents the next chapter. It's the beginning of the best years in a woman's life: You're confident – more so than when you were in your 20s. You are ready to take on new challenges.
Why start with cosmetics?
For years, people have been asking me what's in my makeup bag, so I thought I'd create a capsule collection of everything I'd wear myself. That was the idea behind it. But starting out with a makeup line was also about me staying true to my roots.
The brand will soon include tabletop and jewellery, among other lifestyle offerings. Why expand your reach?
Aerin is meant to be the ultimate beauty destination, where you can find something in home decor as beautiful as the compact in your makeup bag.
Was it a long time in the planning?
Yes. I worked on the concept for two years. It was all well thought out, from the packaging to the product itself. Everything is intended to be multifunctional. I made the makeup bags to double as cases for the BlackBerry and the iPhone. We all lead busy lives right now and I wanted to make life simpler for other working women.
Well, the compact foundation, for instance, is blendable: It's meant for women to build layer by layer to get the right coverage for them. There's a bronzer in two shades and an all-in-one product for both lips and cheeks in a shade called Natural. The hand-and-body cream is also a multitasker and has a lovely rose scent.
Will there be future add-ons?
The line comes with both a weekend and a weekday palette − the former less intense than the latter. Four times a year, we will introduce a new colour collection for both series, according to the latest lifestyle and colour trends. For the holidays, we are planning to release a palette for dramatic eyes, featuring metallics. It will constantly evolve.
How much of Estée Lauder is in the new Aerin brand?
Estée was a driven, dedicated person following her dream. She has influenced me more than my own mother. Everything I do is inspired by her. She was a very forward-thinking woman, an entrepreneur in 1946, when women didn't do that. She loved what she did and was very passionate about every aspect of the business. She believed in touching her customers, doing makeovers for them. She always knew to create a bond with her customer. She also loved flowers and gold and jewellery, things I've included in my own line. The compacts, for instance, are textured gold because I know that's what she loved.
But she never ventured into home decor. Why have you?
People like to be home. They like to entertain at home. Being married and home is an old idea, but everything good usually comes back and so home is important again.
Can you define your style?
I love gold and bronze. I love warm colours. I love patterns and I love mixing them. But I also love home and my children [two boys, 11 and 13] and being with my friends and travelling to new places. I love fabrics. I am always cutting things out of magazines that I see and like. I love to go to vintage jewellery stores. I like the idea of effortless beauty.
This interview has been edited and condensed.