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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Reigning Queen of the National Beauty Scene

Sit down for's been over four years, since we spoke with Lola, aka Loni, aka the Reigning Queen of the National Beauty scene. Regular readers fondly recall the Brooklyn girl with enough positive energy to runneth your cup over many times. Now she's back for another round...


In 2009, I was on a press trip to the lovely St. Regis Punta Mita in Mexico and met a dynamic bolt of lightning known only to me (and only me) as Lola. That's what she told me to call her while we awaited the hotel limousine to shuttle us to the hotel with eight other people we didn't know. She let me know at that moment that I would be "Jeffy" for as long we would know each other.

After series of group tequila tastings, champagne sabering rituals, and tours around the property, Lola revealed her true identity: Loni Albert, associate beauty editor at Cosmo magazine. Since then, our friendship has spawned two great columns with over 140,000 reads here on The Media Guy Struggles:

2013: The Continuing Adventures of Lola and Jeffy
81,000 page views

2011: Los Angeles vs. New York with Cosmo's Associate Beauty Editor
64,000 page views

A lot has changed in the last four years. Let's dive in...

MEDIA GUY: When you were at Cosmo and OK Magazine and the like you were the “Coffee-drinking, lipstick-wearing, punk-rockin', retro-obsessed, Marilyn-loving, NYC girl.” Now you are a San Francisco girl and a BK Babe. First...what's a BK Babe and how is the adjustment to the Left Coast?

LONI VENTI: Ha! IG bios are really embarrassing, no? A BK babe is a Brooklyn girl--duh, Jeffy. The Left Coast is beautiful. Sunny, gorgeous scenery, and lots to explore. But it's a huge adjustment as a born and raised New Yorker.

MG: How do you expect me to know what a BK babe is? I only spent three years in New York and if you remember, last time I didn't even know who Karlie Kloss was! What's the biggest difference between New York and San Francisco and what does a BK babe do in SF to make a living?

LV: You totally pucked up in New York, Jeffy [winks]. New York has a ton more energy, realness, stuff to do, late night fun and food options, people dress better, and it's where I lived for over 30 years--so I'll always be biased.

San Francisco is a breathtaking place. It's surrounded by mountains, the fog (named Carl btw) is the coolest and creepiest thing ever, and the weather is pretty much perfect. But it's not New York. And it takes like 10+ minutes to get a coffee. I spend a lot of time in LA, too, which definitely doesn't suck.

MG: New York was a grind. I mean literally. I worked in the days of drinking lunches and no Starbucks. Corporate housing was sweet, but that's another story. However, I think my move back to Los Angeles was validated when the Kings beat the Rangers for the Stanley Cup and I haven't needed a scarf since then. Yet, I digress... So, what does a BK Babe do in SF to make a living?

LV: I wish we lived in New York at the same time!!! I was actually just in New York City. So tough to be back here--makes me miss it so! I came out here to be the Editorial Director of ipsy, a beauty startup. It's a crazy, exciting, challenging experience and everyday is an adventure.

MG: ipsy is pretty baller, right?!

LV: Dude, ipsy is baller as f**k. And by baller I mean it's slaying the competition. We're growing like crazy and are at three million subscribers with a wait list so long that we've been brainstorming how to get more people that Glam Bag faster. It's only five years old and it stepped into beauty right when a lot of change was happening.

MG: I just read something about the Battle of The Beauty Bags: PLAY! By Sephora vs. Ipsy Glam Bag. Which bag is better, PLAY! or ipsy Glam? If you were to create your own bag with your favorite products what would it contain?

LV: My personal Glam Bag would have CoverGirl lipstick in Hot, DHC's liquid eyeliner, a travel sized Dolce fragrance, a square of chocolate that makes you never get wrinkles and also gives you the power to make everyone around you happy, and a lifetime pass to borrow anything I want to wear from Barney's. (What? You didn't say it had to be realistic.)

MG: Are there Barney's in San Francisco? Personally, I just want every pair of Louis Vuitton shoes in my baller ipsy bag. Is that offered?

LV: I think there's Barney's in San Francisco, but Google can confirm.

MG: Tell me, what would be in Marilyn Monroe's bag?

LV: Marilyn's fave products were: Vaseline for moitsturizer, like 30 shades of lipstick that she used to get the perfect red, Erno Laszlo skincare (she was friends with Dr. Laszlo and he created products just for her), and Piper Heidseick champagne--which she drank morning, noon, and night.

MG: Would Marilyn subscribe? How do you get so many people to subscribe?

LV: Two things that make ipsy magical: 1) we work with influencers instead of advertising, so that's how people learn about it and try it. 2) we have an amazing algorithm that customized the products you get. Every time you get a bag, you review how well it matched your  preferences, and the algorithm gets stronger. What're you doing these days?!

MG: What am I doing? The normal - creating ads, winning awards, wearing fancy shoes at red carpet events like the Oscars and Golden Globes, and of course my lifelong quasi pursuit of Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Lawrence.

LV: I would LOVE to wear fancy shoes to the Oscars! How does one become an Oscar invitee?! Sounds like a dream life.

The Media Guy with the other crocs in the photographers pit.
MG: Oscars? I am so lucking to be on the red carpet (I even found a picture...). I was grandfathered in so to say from my work with Fox and ALO. I keep getting an invitation to shoot the the stars, but I don't get to rub elbows with Jennifer, or George, or Penelope just yet. I did sneak across this year and take a selfie in front of the step and repeat. I hear you are running that the key to good living? Can you run in winter in New York City?

LV: Your Oscar access is pretty dope. We were in LA for a shoot over Oscar weekend and got stuck in traffic that we realized was drop off at the red carpet! Pretty fab! I haven't ran in a while! But I did run five *half* marathons. Not the same as the whole thing over the past few years!! They give you an amazing sense of accomplishment and make you feel really proud of and connected to your bod--which is especially important when you're a gal who's been not that stoked with her shape her whole life.  Yes, you can run in New York City in the winter. After a few blocks you'll warm right up!

MG: Marathons? Half marathons? I envy you. My knees would literally explode on mile four. I filmed a commercial recently. It  wasn't up to expectations, but we keep climbing the mountain.

LV: Whaaaat?! Is that real?!?

MG: Can you believe that spot? I guess it's killing it over there. I just got another commercial because people love the dancing lemons. Who knew?! I guess I can thank Japanese ice cream for my Draper-like Asian market success. 

But tell me more about influencers vs. advertising. Can you elaborate on that vital point in ipsy's success?

LV: So yes, ipsy is built on the influencer movement. Our influencers share ipsy-related content to their highly engaged audiences and it spreads the word super fast. Influencers usually get paid for their work plus free stuff.

MG: What would you recommend for my daughter's ipsy bag? She's 20.

LV: I can't believe your daughter is 20! She grew up so fast!! I don't know what would go in her bag--she'd have to take our personalization quiz!

MG: How do you get one of those fancy blue checkmarks on your social media channels?

LV: I have no idea how to get the blue checks. I had a radio show years ago [for Cosmo] and I think the peeps at Cosmo set it up for me, because we had callers chat with through Twittter a lot. But I don't have them anywhere else! I'd like to get one on Insta[gram] because they shut me down a lot saying that I'm a fake account and I think a check would help a sister out.

MG: You're married recently. I see Artie and you happy and hanging out coast to coast. What his advice to the men out there with a kick-ass independent woman to keep her moving in the right direction?

LV: He usually says something like, "I guess try to be supportive and encouraging. Stay out of her way and make sure she stays out of her own way."

MG: Tell me one thing about ipsy that maybe no one else knows.

LV: One thing about ipsy that maybe no one knows: our main office in San Mateo has something called "Lunch Roulette" where random staffers from diff teams are randomly selected to have lunch together at restaurants in town. Random but cool.

MG: Can you explain the Marilyn Monroe thing?

LV: What do you MEAN the thing with Marilyn?! She's timeless! Iconic! I think what I love most about her is how flawed she was. And her story is kind of a Cinderella story with a tragic ending. She might be one of the most recognized images ever.


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