Elizabeth Brown, CEO, Viyet


"My first job out of college was in finance. That was the thing to do. It was back in 2006, before the world melted down. I had been a business major undergrad. It seemed like a steady business, so I did an investment banking internship. Then I got a full-time offer, made my way to New York, and did the two-year analyst program at Credit Suisse. It was brutal—90-hour weeks, no weekends for two years, but I learned a ton. I still know every Excel shortcut you can possibly want to know.

After banking, I went back to get my MBA at Wharton. My father was an entrepreneur, but my passion was more on the creative side of things. My mother was getting her Masters in Art History while I was growing up and I was always surrounded by art. She always took me to the great museums of the world whenever we traveled. Something like Viyet is great because it allows me to balance that design aesthetic and creativity along with the business side of things. When I was thinking of starting my own business, I just realized that there was this really huge white space in between Craigslist at the low end and somewhere like Sotheby’s and high-end auction houses. It was just very difficult to resell furniture that was newer and nicer. That’s when I met Rachel Rodin and Louise Youngson, who were the founders of Viyet. So they were definitely thinking around the same lines as I was. They didn’t really have the same business background as I had, so I ended up coming on board as CEO that summer of 2013.

When I was a tiny little girl, I was always breaking into my mom’s bathroom. I loved perching on the side of her bathtub, watching her get ready in the morning. She’s one of those women where you open every single cabinet, and its just overflowing with makeup—a real southern lady. My beauty philosophy is 90% her hand me downs and whatever tips she’s willing to pass along, and then 10% my own dablings. The first thing she told me—and this she learned from her mother—is that nobody makes a better eyebrow pencil than Chanel. So I’ve been using the Taupe Chanel Crayon Sourcils for the past 15 years. I buy a new one every two months in the same exact color. What else? Never leave the house without lipstick. Never leave the house without mascara. Never leaving the house without a full face. [Laughs] Working somewhere like Credit Suisse, the natural look with a bright red lip doesn’t fly. You need to look like you’ve done yourself, but not so much you can tell exactly what you did.

My vanity is by Barbara Barry—I saw it in a designer’s portfolio, and I was like, "I have to have it." We unfortunately didn’t have one on Viyet, but I tracked it down on Ebay and I stalked it for months. Then, the Trish McEvoy Planner is the best organizer. I’ve never been able to find anything as good. I love how it has all the places for pencils and makeup brushes, and I travel so much that I can just zip it up and go.

Chanel concealer—I’ve never found anything else as good. This is what got me through the banking days. [Laughs] Doesn’t cake when I’m blending with fingers, although I should probably use a brush. If I’m just going to the office, or it’s a summer Friday, I use this Eve Lom Radiance Perfected Tinted Moisturizer, which is great because it has SPF 30. This is really cool, it’s the By Terry Glow Expert—have you seen this? One side is blush and then one side is a little highlighter. You just dot on the blush and the highlighter you can apply down the bridge of the nose and around the hair line where you would pick up light. My favorite mascara is Armani Eyes To Kill—and I’ve tried everything. I like how you can build up layers of it. And if you build up along the ends, you can make your eyelashes look a little bit longer. So that plus the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler is all you need. But I do use the By Terry Eye Shadow Palette. I just got it and I am obsessed with it—it’s the Techno Aura. You can tell which one I like the most. [Laughs] I stick to lighter neutrals and then a little bit darker in the crease and at the edge. I just started using this Sisley brush—it’s got this flat part you can use for the base, and you can get really tight in the crease with the little tip.

I have really long eyebrow hairs that can go a little nuts, so this tinted Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper in Blonde is helpful. Lately, I love this Hourglass trio for a little contour. And for liner, I am in between the Armani Smooth Silk Eye Pencil in Navy and the Chantecaille one in Luster Glide. They both go on so smoothly and once you smudge it, it sets and stays on all day. I like the navy—it’s a little bit softer than the black. Brown doesn’t look good on me. It just zaps all the color from my eyes.

I don’t use any fancy skincare—I’ve tried all the fancy stuff and I’ve found that it just irritates my skin so much. Ceravé is actually the best. So I use the cleanser, the night cream, and this gel oil. It’s really simple, it doesn’t bother your skin too much. And then when I feel like I need a little extra boost, I use glycolic acid pads that I got from my dermatologist—as long as it's 20% that’s all that matters.

I’m starting to dip my toes into the anti-aging stuff. I’ve been trying Differin—it’s a really low dose of Retin-A. My mom started using Retin-A right when it came out, 30 or 40 years ago, and she still looks 20 years younger than her age. She’s a big proponent of that. This one is good because it is suspended in lotion, so it's really moisturizing. I can hit CVS and get all of my skincare in one shot. I kind of got to the age where hopefully I can see through some of the gimmicks, so I stick to what works. For those days in the winter when my skin just feels completely chapped, I just put a layer of Vaseline on my face and sleep in it.

I’ve been going to Frederic Fekkai for the past 12 years. My colorist is very strict—he’ll only let me come every three months. He’ll sneak me in every six weeks for a touch up around the hair line but that’s it. I was getting way too blonde—I was addicted to it and I was having a little bit of breakage around the hair line, so I slowed down a bit. At home I use a lot of the Oribe products—so I like the Shampoo for Brilliance and Shine a lot, and I also alternate that with the Fekkai Color Care Shampoo. I use It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In just to keep the frizzies down.

First of all, I am five months pregnant, if you can’t tell. [Laughs] So I’ve been covering myself in this Bio Oil with the hopes that I don’t get stretch marks. It’s what Kim Kardashian uses, I heard she bought it by the cases. And the basic Vaseline Intensive Care Moisturizer tends to work really well. I take a bath every single night, I love it. I’ve been using this Barr-Co. stuff, which my husband got for me as a little stocking stuffer and which I’ve been using every night. And I’m trying to get in with a book every night to decompress. We’re going to Russia next week, so I’m reading Nicholas and Alexandra which is a whole story of the last dynasty of the Romanovs—I’m trying to bone up on my history. [Laughs]"

—as told to ITG

Elizabeth Brown photographed in New York by Tom Newton on June 12, 2017.