Kirsten Green, Founder, Forerunner Ventures


"I've never been intimidated by numbers—my grandmother always read the Stock page [in the newspaper], so I grew up around them. But if nobody had guided me in a certain direction, I might have ended up being a therapist because I have this side of me that loves people. When I started working at Merrill Lynch—my first job out of college—there were enough strong personalities in the room that there was some element of that as a part of the job, though. I started in the real estate department and I knew I wasn’t connecting with it—I was more drawn to the retail group. It’s not like I was some big mall rat, but I like to shop and I have a point of view on product. That’s when I really felt like I found something that works for me. I challenged myself to figure out, ‘What can I do to contribute to the conversation?’ I thought, ‘Well I’m close to the customer in age and mentality,’ and so I started advocating from the customer’s perspective. That justified spending a lot of time in stores and just really understanding the psychology of shopping.

It was all really exciting until the market crashed and people started to talk about how everything’s going online. So I thought, ‘One cycle’s over, the next cycle’s starting, there will be another cycle and I’d like to be part of that.’ By definition that meant going for early stage companies. I didn’t really start out saying, ‘I’m going to start my own thing.’ Only when it became clear to me, then I felt comfortable going and asking investors to trust me with their money. It’s a ton of work and there’s a lot of shitty, crazy stuff I’ve got to deal with, but I get to work with people who are inspired and throwing themselves into what they want to do. I optimize for brands and people I enjoy spending time with—we’ve invested in Warby Parker, Glossier, Outdoor Voices, Bonobos—because if you’re having a good time, you’re inherently going to be better at what you’re doing. Even the bad times are tolerable when you’re working alongside people you respect and like. I want to be the investor where the founder calls me at 10 o’clock on Friday night to tell me something awesome happened or something shitty happened. That makes me feel like, 'OK I’m doing my job. I’ve built a relationship and this person feels like they have a teammate.'

I try so many products because it’s just fun. I don’t feel too guilty if I don’t get to the bottom of a jar. But I do notice when I get to the bottom of a jar that I must really like it. My face wash is the thing I care about the most. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to bed without washing my face. I switch it up. I use Obagi Nu-Derm Gentle Cleanser or Lait U Biologique Recherche in the morning or at night. If I had more time, I would use the Eve Lom Cleanser every day. You apply it to your dry face, take this, like, cheesecloth that you’ve run under super hot water, and stick it on your face. Then you take it off, add a little more water, and do that three times. Then you rinse off your face and run the cloth under as cold of water as you can get out of your faucet and put it on your face to set your pores. It’s cleansing, but it’s more of a treatment. Bill Fisher, who owns Space NK—which owns Eve Lom—told me about it. The other product I always have is Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel. My face feels so clean after I use it. This is probably my sixth bottle!

I’ve gone to the same aesthetician, Lisa Bradbury, for about 20 years, but when I’m traveling, I cheat on her. I did an oxygen facial at Kate Somerville a few months ago and so now I have the Dermalquench Liquid Lift. It feels like a bunch of air. Then I usually add a vitamin treatment at night—Skinceuticals Metacell Renewal or Kate Somerville Mega-C Dual Radiance Serum. Tracie Martyn Firming Serum is for days I feel old. Sisleÿa Anti-Age Cream is at night. I feel like it’s special. Biologique Recherche Creme ADN Elastine Collagen Marine is a long time French staple and so somehow I just trust them. I also use Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream because it feels and smells so good. Then I have the Glossier Priming Moisturizer, too, but I use it more like a primer. Sunscreen, EltaMD UV Broad Spectrum SPF 40, happens after the moisturizer.

Sundays, and maybe one other day a week if I can grab it, I’ll do a mask. I use Glossier’s Mega Greens Galaxy Pack and Moisturizing Moon Mask. They’re so good, I’ve given them to every single person I know. I always think of myself as low maintenance, but maybe not with all the stuff I have! My routine does take me all of about five minutes though—slap, slap, slap, go.

As I get older, I feel like I look better with less makeup. More makeup just creases more and looks like you tried too hard to cover up a bunch of stuff, versus ‘OK, I’ve got decent skin and that’s what I’m going with.’ Mascara is the only makeup I actually care about—I’ve tried them all. I use Diorshow when I’m trying to be fancy, but for every day I use Blinc. It’s ridiculously good. Although lately I've stopped wearing mascara on the weekends and it’s very liberating. If I’m really feeling like I need serious help I use 3LAB Perfect BB Cream. I’m also obsessed with By Terry's Light-Expert Click Brush right now. It’s a really lightweight foundation and smells good. If I have to have some cover up but I don’t want it cakey on my face, I use Charlotte Tilbury Youth Boosting Perfect Skin Foundation. I also really like Jane Iredale Powder. I use Glossier Boy Brow, which is pretty amazing. It’s a combination of the size of the brush and it being wax instead of pomade. I didn’t use to do eyebrows, but now I do.

I wear this really boring Kevyn Aucoin Hint of Peach Eyeshadow every day and a little Charlotte Tilbury Color of Youth on my cheeks. I’m not a blush person because I have so much pigment in my skin. If I need some help under the eyes, I use Givenchy Mister Light Corrective Pen. When I’m going out, these Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage and Golden Mink Eyeshadow Quads are to die for. The Tom Ford products are ridiculously expensive, but they’re so good. If I’m going to do gray eyes, I do a little eyeliner and Charlotte Tilbury's Uptown Girl Palette. If I just wear the Kevyn Aucoin eyeshadow, then I feel like I have total freedom with my lipstick. I try to go for something with a little bit of color in it. This Tom Ford Wild Ginger is pretty great, and I like Charlotte Tilbury Bitch Perfect. I like the name. Once in a while, you’ve got to tap into that.

If there’s one thing I’m insecure about, it’s my hair. I switch my shampoos all the time. I think it’s better for my hair, but I also want to try it because I’m always in search of something that’s going to make my hair fabulous. I’ve never found it, but I’m using Oribe for Beautiful Color now and I like it. I don’t put a lot of product in my hair because it’s so fine and thin. Some days I use Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray or Bumble and bumble Full Potential Booster Spray. It’s supposed to reinforce your hair. I really love Alterna Bamboo Plumping Strand Expand. It’s good for frizzy ends. Then I blow dry with the Mason Pearson, a quick little flat iron on the ends. Once in a while I use one of these crazy styling wands that probably make a disaster of my hair.

I do like stronger, richer fragrances. I don’t gravitate towards light florals. Maybe in the spring I’ll wear something with citrus, but really I just love masculine fragrances. I’m wearing Atelier Cologne Vétiver Fatal lately. Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte I really like for nighttime. I wouldn’t wear it during the day because it’s too strong. I also like Diptyque Tam Dao. I can remember wearing that years ago. I’m obsessed with the Byredo bottles, which is the majority of the reason I have those. My mom used to have a bottle of Chloé. To me that still feels like a woman."

Kirsten Green photographed by Anna-Alexia Bastille at her home in San Francisco on November 9, 2015. Interview by Emily Holt.

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