Mary Dillon: She’s Modernizing the Beauty Biz

March 13 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Cosmetics 101

Whenever I see a woman with a crisp cat eye or precise red lips, I compliment her. If you wear makeup, you know those are two skills that take mega practice. Trying to even out jet-black eyeliner can quickly escalate into a panda-eyed situation, while overindulging in vivid lipstick can send you into Joker territory. If you’re still figuring out this whole cosmetics thing, don’t worry. No one wakes up with an even hand and a full skill set. Grab a mirror, find yourself a YouTube tutorial and spend an entire Saturday just having fun with makeup.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: $382 Billion

In my opinion, there’s nothing more tempting to drop a month’s worth of rent money on than beauty products. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way! On any given shopping excursion for makeup, the average woman spends about $43. All those purchases equate to the beauty biz being worth an astonishing $382 billion. Considering we each spend an average of $15,000 on the stuff during our lifetimes, it’s no surprise this has resulted in such a flourishing industry.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty

Whether you want to amplify your best features or add a little finesse to your not-so-favorite physical attributes, today’s Woman to Watch has you covered. Her name is Mary Dillon and she’s the lauded CEO of Ulta Beauty, every gal’s favorite beauty addiction and the largest beauty retailer in the United States.

The luster of this premier destination for all things beauty began in 1990, back when women desired pencil-thin eyebrows and “The Rachel” haircut was all the rage. Of course, beauty trends change (Thank goodness!), but whether you’re still stuck in the ’90s or are a modern makeup queen, Ulta Beauty definitely has the goods you want, carrying more than 20,000 products in its 1,000-plus stores.

But this beauty behemoth wouldn’t be relishing in its current success without Mary’s expertise and leadership. With previous C-suite roles at some of the world’s largest companies, including McDonald’s, PepsiCo and U.S. Cellular, Mary was an easy choice to lead Ulta Beauty to new heights. Since joining the company in 2013, Mary has given the brand a much-needed makeover, pushing Ulta Beauty into more urban centers, improving its online presence and drawing in devotees with noteworthy freebies.

Of course, like just about everything else in the digital age, the beauty business has become a whole new industry. Customers want to engage with products online and in person in equal measure. That’s one of the great things about Ulta Beauty. While you can try that new eye-shadow palette in the store, you can also virtually try it through Ulta Beauty’s ingenious Glam Lab app. Simply upload a selfie and experiment with more than a thousand products and makeup shades—all with accurate color representation for your skin tone. The app allows users to scan barcodes and even verbally ask about a product to check out reviews before purchasing. And, of course, the app is linked to the company’s fantastic “Ultamate Rewards” program. How cool is that? As Ulta Beauty puts it, the app is a great way to “tap into something gorgeous.”

In Mary’s tenure with Ulta Beauty, it has become a must-stop shop for women. With in-store salons and its own cosmetics label (My personal fave is the Ulta Beauty nail polish. It’s affordable and long-lasting!), Ulta Beauty is changing the beauty game, employing knowledgeable, helpful staff and featuring the best beauty products at every price point.

Thanks, Mary, for totally enabling our beauty obsession and making sure we look like a million bucks without having to spend as much!


Whatever your must-have beauty products, consider this quote from Canadian singer Kiesza, who said:

“Beauty has so many forms, and I think the most beautiful thing is confidence and loving yourself.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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