"I've been in the makeup chair since I was six years old," says Drew Barrymore. Actor, producer, cosmetics maven, wife and mother of two little girls, right now she's focussed on launching her two-year-old brand, Flower Beauty, in Canada. When she was in Toronto a short time ago, Drew spent a few minutes with every single editor and blogger packed into a cozy space at Colette Grand Cafe. (I'm pretty sure everyone – about 45 people – got a warm, enthusiastic hug, a photo with Drew, and a personal thank-you for attending. So lovely. And smart.) The next day, Drew sat down with me for a little chat about what keeps her going, staying positive, and her favourites from her makeup and fragrance line.
I like joy and happiness, and feeling like it's always a party and everyone's invited. – Drew Barrymore
On meeting everyone in the room at the Flower event
It's a mandate. We just figure out how we can fit everybody in so that nobody feels short-changed. It's important to me. I hate the sort of "show-up" thing that doesn't feel tangible and real. I think we're all there to meet each other, interact and have a moment.
On Flower's newest releases, the fragrance collection
For years I've been approached to do a celebrity fragrance, and I've always just thought Oh God, what would that look like? What would that smell like? NO! I'm not fabulous, [I don't] see myself posing in some weird scenario selling a perfume. That doesn't feel like me at all, I'm not going to do that. And then having a beauty company doing fragrances felt so right and appropriate.
We thought a lot about who this woman was that we're trying to create a fragrance for. Mothers with their kids, women in the workplace, date night – we started to fall in love with this woman and get excited by her because she felt like us. We're trying to be good to our kids, do something that we can be proud of in our jobs, and go home to get back into that romance with our husbands, where you started it all. He sees you in sweatpants all day, and you're like, yes, right, date night, of course, let's have that. Or you're the single girl and you've lived all day for date night.... So that's Cherished, Radiant and Sultry, a fragrance for every mood and the story of what women are doing out in the world. It's certainly what I'm doing.
On starting Flower Beauty
I was a producer of movies; I fell in love with the art of business and creative, and that journey led me into working for P&G and being a co-creative director at Covergirl for seven years. That was the best job a girl could ever have, thinking about how you would present makeup to women.
I definitely tried to go the girl-dancing-in-her-closet approach, but a more glamorous version of that because we need aspiration. I think we want attainability, and reality, and I don't want to be made to feel like fears and perfection are where it's at. I just never related to it. I like joy and happiness, and feeling like it's always a party and everyone's invited. That's where we started Flower, and the messaging: love the way you look.
On Flower being such an extensive line
I think everybody would give an arm and a leg to have four feet [of space] at Walmart. It's the world's largest retailer. It was something we fought for and felt so lucky to have. I think there's a psychology when you see a brand in the format amongst the majors. We were the first to have an LED-lit planogram so that there's a small feeling of this glowing destination. And psychologically for the customer, it lets them know that this is as good, that it's competing with everybody else. That was important to us because our whole brand promise is luxury formulas. That's hard to do when you're just on an endcap.
Every year we come out with 30 new products and we reformat our planogram to keep what's selling best, to get rid of things that aren't working, but mostly to make room for the new innovations because you have to stay current.
On her three favourite Flower products
Every day is different because all I do is test and use the products. Today I'll say Mauve Over Lip Suede ($7.98 at walmart.ca and $7.98 at walmart.com), our rose-coloured lip crayon. It's matte, but so creamy and buildable, and it never feathers or cracks or gets cakey. I don't go anywhere without our Skincognito Foundation Stick ($8.98 at walmart.ca and $8.98 at walmart.com). It's really just a big fat creamy concealer stick, and it covers stuff so well without looking heavy. And our Zoom-In Ultimate Mascara ($7.98 at walmart.ca and $7.98 at walmart.com). It's so good with its adjustable three-way brush.
I'm just sort of a balloon that's been let go, and eventually I'm just high up in the sky and floating around and doing my thing. I don't have the ability to stay down. – Drew Barrymore
On balancing a multi-faceted career with family
I'm sure most women feel guilty, like there's never enough, especially with motherhood -- it's so weighty. I apply a very narrow focus: I wouldn't be able to direct and act and do the cosmetics company and have little side projects... things had to fall off when I had kids. That's the only way I'm able to be a mother first and foremost. My kids deserve the 24/7 energy of me.
On conquering fear and moving ahead
It's something in my make-up. I've dreamed about staying in bed for so long that all my friends get worried about me and show up at my bedside and say okay, we're really scared for you – it's this whole dramatic scenario. But it won't last 10 minutes. I'll get out of bed. And I'll start shuffling and doing stuff and before I know it, I'm making breakfast for the kids and cleaning the sink, and go, go, go. Within an hour's time I've already done 15 things that mostly just need to get done, but that I'm completely on top of and one step ahead of.
I think it's a constant go-go-go energy mixed with that depression or anxiety or fear or dark thoughts – they come and go, but they never stick, they don't hold. Inevitably I will put one foot in front of the other, I will go to joy, I will be much more taken with my kids laughing than my own dark thoughts. I'm just sort of a balloon that's been let go, and eventually I'm just high up in the sky and floating around and doing my thing. I don't have the ability to stay down. I don't actually want to be there. As much as I have these Greta Garbo elaborate fantasies of woe-is-me, they don't last minutes let alone hours, let alone days.
When I hear my friends talking about themselves, I'm like, you're crazy, we're all crazy, we have to NOT say negative things to ourselves. – Drew Barrymore
On living life under a massive spotlight
There definitely can be a sort of agoraphobia about leaving the house because when you do it's sort of fair game out there in the world and that's tough because kids want to out and have adventures. I just think [staying home] is not an option. I have to take my kids to their playgroup, or take them out all weekend long and go to museums and parks and have adventures. So you just suck it up.
On being inspired by other people
I've always had great taste in people. I didn't have family and tradition and values bestowed upon me, but I think my gift was really identifying people who had it together and who were incredibly responsible. And they were lovers of life, they weren't so serious that it was like a boring thing to follow them. They just really knew what it was like to have it together. I learned so much from those people. I never liked the negative people, I never liked the non-doers, I never liked people who were tortured.
There's plenty of tough stuff in the world; where else would you want be but the goodness? -- Drew Barrymore
On being part of the way a woman looks at herself
I'm so happy to be there because I've done the mental gymnastics my whole life. Look, I can hate my arms all day long but it isn't going to stop me or keep me down. When I hear my friends talking about themselves, I'm like, you're crazy, we're all crazy, we have to not say negative things to ourselves.
On living in the light
I like the way I feel when I see an image or a commercial or something that is positive and uplifting. I'm very tuned in to what women go through in their daily life, how they feel inside, what positive messaging is, who good people are, and you combine it all together.
Insecurity is not an option. There are things out there that can really be uplifting and you go toward them. That's a big part of how I want to raise my daughters. You live by example and you go to the light. You can help illuminate things for other people, even – it's just goodness. It's inherent goodness. There's plenty of tough stuff in the world; where else would you want be but the goodness?
It's not all going to be easy or Miss Mary Sunshine or positive all the time – you're going to be torn by the heavy stuff in life. All the more reason to have that light within.