BORN IN THE HISTORIC PORT CITY OF CONSTANTA, ROMANIA, ANASTASIA SOARE GREW UP IMMERSED IN CULTURE — OVID SPENT TIME IN EXILE IN HER HOMETOWN, AND IMMORTALIZED HIS TENURE THERE IN HIS POEMS. COLORFUL ROMAN MOSAICS DOT THE CITYSCAPE, AND ANCIENT RUINS CAN BE FOUND A STONE’S THROW FROM TOWN. BUT THE IDYLL WAS DISRUPTED BY THE COMMUNIST REGIME, WHICH BECAME UNTENABLY RESTRICTIVE DURING THE 1970S AND ‘80S — REPRESSION WAS COMMONPLACE, THERE WAS NO ELECTRICITY AFTER 7 P.M., HEATING WAS AN ISSUE, AND FOOD WAS SCARCE. “IT WAS A STRUGGLE TO LIVE THERE,” ANASTASIA REMEMBERS.
In 1989, Anastasia and her daughter, Claudia, emigrated to Los Angeles. She spoke no English, and had to downsize from living in a spacious house in Constanta into a small valley apartment, and she missed her close-knit family. The first six months were very hard she says.
Her beauty career started at the Giovanna-Jutta salon in Beverly Hills, where she was responsible for facial and body waxing. But she soon noticed a glaring gap in the market- no one was worrying about their eyebrows. In 1992, after trying (and failing) to convince her boss to let her launch a brow service at the salon, Anastasia took matters into her own hands and secured a tiny room in another local salon, out of which she developed her signature technique derived from Leonardo da Vinci's use of the Golden Ratio. The result was an eyebrow-shaping technique tailored to each client's bone structure and natural arch (or lack thereof). It worked, and she proceeded to pluck and perfect the brows of all the supermodels. Her star only rose from there.
Five years later, Anastasia opened her eponymous salon on Bedford Drive; in 1998, she launched products to complement her services. That same year, she was invited on The Oprah Winfrey Show to do the legendary talk icon's brows in front of a live audience, catapulting brow shaping into forefront of the national consciousness.
Since that time, Anastasia has tended to the arches of such names as the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz, Victoria Beckham, Eva Longoria and many more. Her business has grown into a full beauty line, and she operates salons all over the world, from Beverly Hills to Tokyo to her native Romania.
Here, Anastasia answers our inaugural Meet-the-Artist Q&A about beauty and business, and offers the best brow advice you'll ever get. Read on for the full interview.
WHAT'S A QUESTION THAT NO ONE EVER ASKS YOU IN INTERVIEWS?
How hard it was I don't even remember how many evenings I would go home and think, Oh my God, I can't do this anymore. I was ready to give up. And then I would wake up in the morning and start all over again. I love the Mahatma Gandhi quote, Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn. I think I had this desire that if I came here, I had to be significant. I sacrificed a lot coming here. I left my family. I didn't think, I want to be famous. I wanted to do something for myself that would give me purpose when I woke up in the morning.
WHAT WAS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED WHEN STARTING YOUR BUSINESS?
Every single thing was a challenge. The bank didn't want to give me a credit card. The landlord didn't want to rent me the place [for the Anastasia Beverly Hills salon]. I stayed there for two hours, and said, I'm not leaving this room until I convince you that you should rent me this space. I think, sometimes when you start complaining, Oh I'm this, or I'm an immigrant, or I'm that, you stop yourself before forcing somebody else to stop you, because you don't believe that you will succeed. Every day somebody would tell me no, but I said to myself, I'm going to make it happen, and I did.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Sharing everything I find great with other women. And giving my daughter a purpose. She's so crazy in love with what she does. It's my biggest achievement. I'm very proud of what I've done, but I think that is my ultimate happiness.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER MILESTONES IN THE BUSINESS THAT YOU WANT TO MENTION?
Milestones happen every day. I think people envision life in business being all wonderful and beautiful. Guess what? Every day you go to work, every day you face challenges. Business is a bumpy road. But the best business people are the ones that figure out how to cruise this road and be successful.
WHAT'S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR STANDING OUT FROM THE COMPETITION?
Of course you need to see what your competitors are doing. Otherwise you live in a bubble. But do not waste time worrying that somebody's going to get ahead of you, because you'll lose momentum and time. I think you should cruise and focus, really focus - nothing should stop you.
WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL POWERFUL?
Knowledge, I think
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Everything inspires me. People that have amazing stories, people that have challenges, whose challenges I can learn from. I learn from my own mistakes the most. But everybody inspires me.
BEAUTY IS ___________.
Proportion. The human eye recognizes that as beautiful.
LIPS OR EYES?
WHAT'S YOUR BEST BEAUTY TIP?
Don't over-tweeze your eyebrows- eyebrows completely change everything about your look; your expression.