5 Minutes With, Sam Cheow, Vice President of Startup Development at L’Oreal USA

With more than 15 years in the beauty business, Sam Cheow has his fingers on the proverbial beauty pulse. As the vice president of Startup Development at L’Oreal USA, Cheow is on the hunt for top trends in beauty from head to toe for one of the largest brands in the world. He’s a trendsetter and in his spare time, an entrepreneur and author – knock us over with a feather. Looking for inspirations for seasons in the forecasting future we ask him about his current art and music obsessions, what keeps his creativity going and what can make or break a beauty career.

Stylesight: Music, art, icons: which of these are inspiring you for the F/W 14 season? List one item for each if possible.
Sam Cheow: ” I love Gene Davis (and those infamous paintings of colorful vertical stripes in the late 1950s) and Marcus Linnenbrink (for his multi-dimensional pieces that are rich in color).”  As for music, I am always looking for the remix of something new just to listen to another person’s point of view. I follow DJ VITO FUN. Give it a listen, I guarantee you’ll be transported into a new, inspiring space. As for icons, I don’t believe in one icon, really. Everyone is an icon and once you open your eyes to every form of being in front of you, something happens.”

Markus Linnenbrink

SS: Your motto that has set you on a path to success?
SC: “I don’t believe there is a path to success but there is a path to trials and tribulations. You can imagine all you can be as long as your feet are firmly planted on the ground.”

SS: What is the secret to succeeding in the beauty business? Is there one?
SC: “I don’t think there is a secret but there is a recipe. You need a dash of curiosity, a dollop of imagination, a fistful of perseverance, a sprinkle of humility – mixed all together and baked in an oven of entrepreneurism.”

SS: Good luck charm (item, person or pet)?
SC: “My pet who encourage me to write creatively in my limited spare time.”

SS: Beauty project that you’re most proud of?
SC: There are so many of them but the one that I am very fond of is the packaging renovation of the hair brand Pureology. It was almost an 18 months of incestuous love affair with the consumers and the stylists, in a quest to find the perfect bottle.

SS: What is one thing that helps give you an inspirational pick-me-up? 
SC: “Be grateful and say thank you all the time.”

SS: First experience with beauty? Tell us about a moment or memory.
SC: “Using my mum’s makeup to concoct my own formulas when I was five. She was not impressed when I added baking soda into her foundation.”

SS: Beauty product (skincare or makeup) you’d never live or leave the house without?
SC: “A little – just a little of metallic shadow goes a long way for illuminating tired eyes. I switch inbetween Color Tattoo Inked in Pink and Barely Branded.”

SS: Name the beauty campaign or editorial spread (old or new) that’s inspired you the most
SC: “A beauty campaign that tells a story or encourage the viewers to indulge in fantasy or imagination… MAC’s recent campaign brings back the opulence of Valentina in the most exquisite form and Diesel’s new Instagram campaign for keeping beauty real.”

 — Glynnis Mapp, Stylesight Beauty Editor

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