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Monday Motivation: Maria Barillaro, from beauty editor to beauty entrepreneur

15/05/2017 Jennifer Braun

Women across Canada are kicking butt in the workforce, all while maintaining their cool and doing the things in life they enjoy. “Monday Motivation: How she does it” is a news series where we profile notable women working in various fields to find out how they juggle work-life, balance. For this installment, we chatted with Maria Barillaro former beauty editor and co-founder of recently launched Canadian cosmetics line TōN Cosmetics.

How did this full-time mom find the time to spearhead and launch her own cosmetics line? Read on to find out:

You just launched your own cosmetics line! Can you tell me a bit about it?

The brand is called TōN Cosmetics and I launched it with my sister Vicki Barillaro. As beauty lovers, we consume a lot of cosmetics, but not everyone is as involved in the makeup industry and don’t know which colours suit them or how to select the right colours for their skin tone and complexion. Many don’t even know what skin tone and complexion are. So we decided to come out with a brand where on the website we would have a quick quiz that would help you determine your skin tone and complexion, and would lead you to the corresponding lip colour. Like that you’re sure that when you purchase a colour it’s going to be right for you.

I love the concept! What does your first collection consist of?

Our first collection is focused on nude lipsticks and features nine shade variations. A lot of people have difficulty finding a nude lipstick because it’s not the right undertone. It can make you look a little washed out and then you think that nudes don’t suit you. But it’s not that nude lipsticks don’t suit you, you just haven’t found the correct one. Not everyone knows how to find the right shade or has the time to find it. Our concept takes the guess work out for those people and shows them, which colours are the best for them.

A lot of people think of launching a business, but they don’t actually do it! What gave you the motivation to launch a cosmetics line?

I think it’s a combination of a different skill set that I and my sister both have. I had the idea, but I didn’t know where to begin. To me it was an unattainable goal. My sister is very business orientated and she’s been running my family company for the last 20 years, so she knew how to get started and where to begin. So together we were able to build and realize this dream. We just said that if we don’t give it a try, then we’ll never know if we could have been really successful at it or if we’re able to release a great product.

What do you do in your position as co-founder of TōN Cosmetics?

I focus on selecting the current colours for our collection and I also work on our social media and our content. My sister takes care of the business side, but we both contribute to the ideas behind the products and the categories we choose to go with.

So what does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?

A typical day for me starts at 7 am when my son wakes me up. I have two toddlers that I stay home with full-time and I’m currently pregnant with my third. So my day time is usually devoted to them and I spend my nights and weekends devoted to the business. It’s kind of like I’m working non-stop.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as you’ve been launching your own business?

I think the biggest challenge is just getting our name out there. It’s definitely a challenge to get people to trust a new brand and to invest money in trying a new product.

And what about in your personal life? Has it been challenging being a mom, a wife and launching a business?

That has been a very difficult part! It’s very tricky to balance everything. I think the key is really loving what you do, so you have the motivation to keep working on your dream when you have the time to do it. My children are both toddlers and it can take a lot of time and energy out of me throughout the day. If I didn’t love what I’m doing and if I wasn’t fully dedicated to this business, I don’t know if I would have the energy or the stamina to keep working when they go to bed at night.

So it’s really your passion that helps you overcome all the challenges?

Absolutely! If there’s no passion in what you’re doing, I don’t know where you’ll find the energy to do it. It’s a passion, but it’s also very exciting to see something that was just a thought in my mind come to life.

How do you like to unwind?

I haven’t unwound in a little while (laughs)! But if I did have the time, I would definitely choose a night alone with my husband to just feel like a normal person - not a mom or a business woman - just a regular person out on a date, enjoying a meal and having some free time to not have to think about anything.

Choose one: wine or cocktails?


What is the best advice you have ever received?

The best advice I have ever received came from my father. He’s a business man himself and he told me to not be afraid to fail at something because the fear of failure is usually what stands in the way of success.

How would you define success?

Success is when you are satisfied with how your work has turned out. If you have devoted yourself to something and you’ve reached your goal, that’s success to me. The key is to set your goal always a little bit higher than what you really think you can achieve.

What’s next for TōN Cosmetics?

We are working on our second collection, so we will be launching another line of lip colours in the coming months. So stay tuned, there’s lots more to come!

Do you know someone we should feature in this segment? Send an email to [email protected]

This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.