Creative Minds, Business Brains: Terry de Gunzburg

Beauty aficionados will need no introduction to Terry de Gunzburg – the beauty maestro who invented YSL’s Touche Eclat and, in doing so, created a cult out of concealer. I, however, have never even tried Touche Éclat, which most definitely puts me in the minority when it comes to literally every group of women I know.

My make-up look could best be described as ‘lazy’. I haven’t so much mastered the art of the smoky eye, as ignored it altogether in favour of whatever gets me out of the house in the shortest amount of time possible. One product in particular has been key to this – By Terry’s Ombre Blackstar – which I smear onto my eyelids and where my eyeliner usually goes. I don’t even bother to smudge it with a finger, that’s it. I wouldn’t call it a ‘must-have’ – I’m pretty sure no make-up item is a ‘must-have’, I reserve that label for food and roofing – but I’m very happy someone invented it, which led me to the woman behind the brand.


Terry is something of a revelation. Despite a few decades of high-profile make-up magic under her belt, she actually fell into the industry after taking a summer course “for fun”– she was studying medicine at the time.


Here’s what she had to say about balancing the left and right-hand sides of her brain.

How do you describe what do you do for a living?

I design beauty. I am in search of the perfect beauty products that women need in their lives, and I work to make them real, beautiful, luxurious and practical to use.

What’s behind the success of your business?

Creativity, innovation, integrity, expertise, experience, common sense, hard work and an ‘INGU attitude’, which means I Never Give Up – plus, an endless passion for what I do.

Tell me about a failure, and what you learnt from it…

My failure could be too much enthusiasm and belief (with no doubt) in people or project. I learned from many disappointments and mistakes to get more focused on results, to go step by step and organise my priorities.

Terry de Gunzburg

Do you believe in light-bulb moments?

Of course I do. Inspiration can come very suddenly from an unexpected situation.

Where do you do your best thinking?

Believe it or not in my bed, early morning with my morning tea. But I also need to escape from my day-to-day business routine to “re-initialise” my inspiration, my mood, my creative cells. I love being in Provence where peace is floating and gives me the strength to think deeply.
I also love sailing during the summer, where I’m completely cut off from the craziness of life; no phone, no TV, no make-up, no social life… the minimum I need to resource myself and think about what is essential.

When you get creative block, where do you turn for inspiration?

I don’t force things and am lucky to have an amazing team around me who bring me a lot of ideas and boost my inspiration. I believe that team work is the solution to creative block.

How do you celebrate?

Very simply, surrounded by my family, husband, parents, children, grandchildren and in-laws, with a good meal and wine to share.

Terry de Gunzburg: Beauty Maven

Who or what makes you most happy?

My husband, my family, my work!

And saddest?

The stupidity of life and of some human beings, endless fitting, to be betrayed by my beloved ones.

What would be your best advice for today’s 16-year-olds?

It might sound common, but my advice would be to believe in their dreams, in themselves. 16 years old is not an easy stage in a lifetime. I have four children and I can tell how teenagers struggle sometimes to feel confident. They must learn from their mistakes and weaknesses, they can find role models – even if not their parents – but it’s also our responsibility, as adults, to help and encourage them to achieve their dreams, to believe in their difference. The sky should be their limit.

Can creativity be taught?

I think education breeds creativity. Bringing sensibility to art can encourage creativity. What we cannot teach is talent, but talent without work brings you nowhere.

How about business nous?

Business nous can certainly be taught. Of course, some people will have a more business-oriented mindset, but acquiring knowledge from more experienced people, and making one’s own business experiences is the best way to learn. My daughter, Marion, who has worked by my side and in different departments of the company, has learnt a lot throughout the years before becoming the CEO of By Terry.

What constantly surprises you about the world at large?

The world itself is surprising, in a good and bad way. I’m endlessly surprised: nature, flowers, art. My appetite to discover the world and its beauties has no limit and surprises are everywhere, at any time, if you think this way.

What is the biggest change we’ll see in business in the next five to 10 years?

Technology goes so fast and we will see big changes in the industry. It has already started. Hybrid products are the new hype but it can go much further. By Terry already has the mindset to offer this type of product that simultaneously provides the benefits of skincare and make-up, but within five to 10 years you won’t be able to tell the difference because their efficiency will be multiplied and there will no longer be a limit.

What are we losing that we’ll regret?

Let’s be honest, technology makes our life much easier. So in general, we lose for the best in this industry. At the same time, there is always something to regret if we look at the past. It’s in our nature to miss the “good old times”.
That’s why vintage fashion exists. And this won’t change so we can comfort ourselves.

What’s your best prediction for 2030?

A mini robot who would apply your makeup for you, at home or on-the-go? But hopefully that won’t happen. I definitely prefer the “human” touch of class when it comes to femininity and seduction!

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