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Terri Bryant of GUIDE BEAUTY: “Focus on the mission and what brought you there”

Focus on the mission and what brought you there. There are going to be bumps and bruises along the way. Surrounding yourself with a group of caring and passionate individuals with diverse mindsets, temperaments, and experiences will help you weather the storms. As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in […]

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Focus on the mission and what brought you there. There are going to be bumps and bruises along the way. Surrounding yourself with a group of caring and passionate individuals with diverse mindsets, temperaments, and experiences will help you weather the storms.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Terri Bryant, Founder of GUIDE BEAUTY.

Over the span of Terri’s career, she has had the privilege to live both of her loves: an artist, working on-set with models and celebrities; and an educator, teaching makeup artistry for brands like Dior and Stila, and leading education departments for Smashbox and Josie Maran. While makeup artistry always came easily for Terri, she could see just how challenging it was for so many of her clients and friends. Simply learning the steps to apply makeup doesn’t always translate into applying it with confidence. GUIDE BEAUTY has built in ease-of-use to the actual tools and formulas. These products will literally GUIDE your hand to easier and better applications. Terri is often asked how she can truly relate to the average makeup user when she has the skills of a professional makeup artist. But it was a major life change that led to the epiphany that there must be an easier and better way for everyone to apply makeup. A few years ago, she started to question why she too was struggling with certain makeup techniques. Her doctor provided the answer when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. So now Terris is a professional makeup artist, beauty educator, AND someone who knows what it feels like to struggle to get their eyeliner straight and their brows on point. Though it comes with challenges, her diagnosis has given her an unexpectedly beautiful gift. One that she is grateful and excited to share. She is able to approach makeup and how the user applies it from a unique lens. GUIDE BEAUTY allows Terri to reimagine the world of makeup with formulas and tools designed to make applying makeup feel just as fabulous as you’ll look wearing it


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Thanks for having me! I’ve had a long love affair with makeup. Fortunately, from an early age, makeup artistry came easy to me. I could look at someone’s face and know exactly how I wanted to accentuate and celebrate their features. With my arm and hand as a natural extension of my mind’s eye, I would then bring that look to life.

I understood that was a gift and that my experience was not everyone’s. Makeup artistry often requires a high level of precision and fine motor skills. Techniques such as drawing a straight line with eyeliner or defining symmetrical brows, are just a few examples that many makeup users find challenging and time consuming. While working as a professional makeup artist for many years, many of my clients, friends, and family members, shared their frustration and insecurities when it came to applying makeup. That led me to a career in artistry education. I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy makeup the way I did — with ease and confidence. As a beauty education executive for three decades, I devoted my career to helping others learn how to apply makeup. However, I could not make certain techniques easier for all who struggled using existing tools and formulas.

Five years ago, after noticing some struggles of my own, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Having Parkinson’s gave me a unique perspective as both a professional makeup artist and as someone who knows what it feels like to struggle. My personal experience and that shift in my ability has allowed me to actually feel where traditional tools and products can fall short in achieving great results. It landed me in that white space to be able to reimagine what makeup could be.

Though it comes with challenges, my diagnosis has given me an unexpectedly beautiful gift. One that I am grateful and excited to now share. GUIDE BEAUTY allows me to reimagine the world of makeup with formulas and tools rooted in a culture of inclusivity, which are universally designed to make applying makeup a joyful and welcoming experience for everyone.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Following the principles of Universal Design, GUIDE BEAUTY is an entirely new approach to makeup and how we apply it. Universal Design is inclusive thinking at its best, as we are able to innovate products that are easy to use and accessible for people across a diverse range of abilities, skill sets, and needs. From concept, through exploration and development, our designs consider and account for the needs of the widest and most diverse user group possible. Inclusivity in beauty extends through gender, skin color, age, culture, and abilities. At GUIDE BEAUTY we are deeply rooted in a culture of inclusivity as we approach beauty through Universal Design to create products and a community for all. We know that when you design for the greatest challenges you create a better system, product, and outcome.

Alongside our design team and test users, our process was highly explorative and collaborative as we discovered ergonomic and design preferences that improve the user experience. We applied those findings into our designs to create tools that could perform as an extension of the user’s hand along with custom formulations that enhance the tools performance. The combination of our innovative design and ideal formulation put the finishing touches on a brand-new approach to makeup. Additionally, while the products were focused on innovation and usability, the importance of beauty to the overall brand experience was a must. Therefore, we created an artistic, glamorous and confident identity that tapped into the essence of what we love about makeup.

Every aspect of GUIDE BEAUTY is custom. From our ergonomic and intuitive applicators to our clean, vegan, and cruelty free formulas. The combined effort was a culmination of 2 ½ years of research and development, over 200 test users, 39 eyeliner formula submissions, and over 100 eyeliner tool iterations with similar statistics for our other tools and formulas.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

While I spent most of my career avoiding mistakes, I’ve certainly made many. Developing and launching GUIDE BEAUTY has been so refreshing as I now find myself developing through a design process that encourages and celebrates them. It’s a key element of Universal Design. We continually strive for better based on the “mistakes” and “roadblocks” identified while watching people use existing products and prototypes. Our prototypes went through so many tweaks and adjustments along the way. There were times we thought we had gotten it just right to find a test user fail for whatever reason. Those moments are gold, and the ones you celebrate most as every design process helps inform the next especially when you’re innovating in a white space with no clear design road map. There are references, but the bulk of the work comes down to extensive exploration and countless reworks. It’s an incredibly hands on, iterative process. Getting around setbacks takes time, and you have to be open to learning, tweaking and adjusting as you test internally and across a broad range of users. If you can learn just one thing from each iteration, you’ve made progress.

However, I can’t leave you hanging as you did ask for a funny mistake, and I have made my fair share. It was early in my career and I was asked to present to an executive team. I prepared for the presentation, but not the set-up as a video-audio team was taking care of that. I stepped on stage in my high heels and skirt and three words into my speech I tripped over a loose chord landing me, and my skirt, on my head. It was a good lesson in humility as I stood up, dusted myself off (pulled my skirt off my head), and finished my presentation.

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Always carry your own Duct Tape when wires are involved and opt for pants 😉

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I had a tremendous mentor when I was first starting out. She was a Senior VP for a large, and well known, beauty brand at a time when it was rare to see women in a corporate position at that level. She was brilliant, confident and made her voice heard, which threatened some of her peers, but she never apologized for her seat at the table. She had an incredibly positive impact on the company, education in the beauty industry as a whole, and on me in my own career path. It’s hard to be what you don’t see and with her mentorship and her example, she ignited possibilities I had not realized were possible. I am fortunate that she was the first of what would be a long line of supportive, powerhouse, trailblazing women I have encountered throughout my career.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption is about change, value ad, and should be consumer driven. Disruption simply for the sake of change may or may not have financial benefits for a company, but it does enhance or advance the consumer experience in a meaningful way.

The best disruptions are led by innovators focused on people and needs. I believe those that do it well are not looking to tear down what exists, and instead task themselves with building a better way for their audience. In that sense, disruption is a result of well executed, consumer-centered innovation.

Southwest is a great example of a consumer-centered approach that ultimately disrupted the airline industry. For years, airlines designed, marketed and priced their product with the assumption that only those well-off and within a certain economic range wanted to fly. Southwest recognized that the majority were excluded from air-travel and that given the opportunity would choose it. They launched as the first low-cost airline, making air travel more accessible across income levels. Their goal was not to knock out the competition, but to expand the marketplace. They not only accomplished that goal, they helped drive growth across their industry.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Focus on the mission and what brought you there. There are going to be bumps and bruises along the way. Surrounding yourself with a group of caring and passionate individuals with diverse mindsets, temperaments, and experiences will help you weather the storms.

There is never enough time so build more into the schedule. This is one that has shown up almost every step of the way.

As we do in our design process, lean into the roadblocks and mistakes, they are your greatest opportunities.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m so glad you asked! We’re just getting started on exciting new developments at our GUIDE Lab. We started with the products and techniques (eyeliner, brow and mascara) that create definition and best enhance our features. Products that create definition are not only the most impactful, but also tend to be the most challenging for the everyday makeup wearer. We wanted to tackle these challenging techniques first and offer a range of products that allows the user to wholly define the area around the eyes. We will be expanding our color range as well as continuing to focus on specific features in order to create a full GUIDE Beauty face.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Disruptive innovation may challenge a brand’s product, systems, methodologies, and culture. You need to be prepared for what comes with challenging the accepted norms. Disruption requires companies and industries to overhaul business models, change sales channels, and embrace new customer segments. While you will find your community and those ready to embrace disruptive thinking and innovation, you’re likely to experience pushback and to be challenged at the idea of a structural and principle shift of this scale. While that can be an intimidating proposition for anyone, it can be especially challenging for women who already walk a tightrope in the boardroom to be heard (it’s that balance of not too passive, but not too forceful). Ultimately, to be a disruptor requires one to be clear in their intentions and solid in their convictions. For women, that often requires a disruption in breaking of historical gender norms.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve learned that we have more in common as people than differences. I hope in a small way, we at GUIDE BEAUTY, are creating a forum to highlight the beauty of inclusivity.

We have found a community of all races, genders and abilities that have connected based on their common love of artistry. I’d love to create a safe space where we can bond as people based on our commonalities.

Although we’re not solving the climate crisis or food insecurity, I truly believe that the first step in solving the large problems in the world is by highlighting our common humanity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storms, but to add color to my sunset sky.” –Rabindranath Tagore

None of us go through life unscathed and while we certainly don’t wish for struggles, they come. While I still feel the pain living through it, my personal journey has shown me that from even the darkest moments, something beautiful can be born. For me, a meaningful life is one lived through a wider lens with shared experiences, and the deepened range of empathy that grows from those shared experiences. Being challenged in life is inevitable. This quote from Tagore is a beautiful reminder that every experience color’s our life, but you can shape your perspective.

How can our readers follow you online?

We’d love for you to join us! You can follow us on Instagram @guidebeautycosmetics and on our website at guidebeauty.com.

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