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Josie Maran: A Beautiful Life

BY DOROTHY CASCERCERI | February 20, 2013 | People

Josie Maran’s Newtown Square farm is drastically different from her Los Angeles home in the Hollywood Hills. But the makeup and beauty maven, whose line, Josie Maran Cosmetics, has sold more than one million units on QVC, describes her bicoastal lifestyle as having the perfect balance. “I love having the extremes, and I live on a really beautiful farm,” the 34-year-old model and actress says of the historic 400-acre property she began renting in May.

After spending two years commuting to QVC’s West Chester headquarters every few months for live appearances, she now appears on the network once a week selling her products, and she plans to do so for a long time. “I guess I will be here for 10 years,” she says. “As long as my line is successful at QVC, I will be here.”

And successful it has been. In addition to being sold on her website, the line is also sold at Sephora, and since it became available on the at-home shopping network in February 2010, 162 new products have been created. She has six more products debuting as part of her holiday collection, which she will promote during appearances on the network December 3 and December 12, including an argan oil balm trio and a whipped argan oil body butter—and even more on the horizon.

“In addition to new product launches every few months, the goal is to have a whole lifestyle brand,” she says, but adds that details of future projects are confidential. “I wanted to get beauty right, but I also want to zero in on inner health, more physical wellness, exercise."

Maran is no stranger to the world of cosmetics thanks to her years in front of the camera: She was the face of Maybelline for nearly a decade, after landing a contract in 1997, and appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition two years in a row. She even has several acting credits, including roles in Little Black Book, Van Helsing, and The Aviator. In 2007, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars.

Raised by a father who was a green builder and a mother who had 12 siblings of her own, Maran learned at an early age the importance of resourcefulness and recycling. As her modeling career exploded, she—and her skin—was irritated by the harmful chemicals and dyes in the products used on her by makeup artists at photo shoots. Watching her grandmother battle breast cancer and her mother struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, Maran read up and learned even more about the toxicity of everyday products. So she set out to create her own. “When I asked these makeup artists if there were products out there that were just as good without all the harmful [substances] in them, I was told no, and that it wasn’t possible to have both,” she said. “I really wanted to prove them wrong.”

The star ingredient of her line is argan oil, a healing and anti-aging marvel she has been using on her own face for the past decade after discovering it during a modeling trip to France. The powerful oil, which is derived from the kernels of the argan tree that grows in Morocco, is harvested for Maran’s products by a women’s cooperative. “They get jobs, which is rare; get to send their kids to school; have money for healthcare,” says Maran, who tries to visit the area once a year. “It’s important to me to meet these women who are so important to my life.”

It’s also important to Maran to be as involved as possible with her growing brand, she says, especially when it comes to product development. “I pride myself on being super hands-on with the brand,” says Maran. “Whenever I travel—even to the local farmer’s market—I love to talk to farmers and herbalists about which natural ingredients might be used in my products.”

Dreaming up new products to add to her line is part of Maran’s job, she says, in addition to spending time in a lab watching those dreams materialize. “If I want to create a new lip balm, oftentimes I’ll grab a base formula we have and some paint colors and I will drive over to the lab we work with. I’ll discern which ingredients I want in there and which I don’t. A week later, I’ll go back and see what the product looks like. I’ll wear a white lab coat and a hairnet and we’ll start tweaking the sample in a beaker—heating it up, adding new ingredients to change the texture, cooling it down—until we have it where we want it. It’s very creative and scientific, and I love playing such a big role in the lab portion of product development,” she says. “Just being able to see how long it takes to make something like a mascara without all these harmful chemicals is quite interesting.”

Even though Maran has a strict policy against testing on animals, she loves trying out new products on friends, and she takes others’ feedback very seriously when finalizing decisions regarding her brand. “I call our friends and family our ‘guinea pigs’ because I love running ideas by them and hearing what they like or don’t like about something new we’ve created,” she says.

Philanthropy is the cornerstone of Maran’s company, which recently celebrated its five-year anniversary, and several programs reflect that. Ten percent of the profits from the line’s Bear Naked Wipes are donated to the Natural Resources Defense Council to protect polar bears from global warming. The “Get One, Give One” program donates one GoGo Natural Volume Mascara for each one purchased to a cancer survivor through City of Hope, a cancer research institution. “My daughters inspire me to do good,” she says of Indi, whom she gave birth to in July in her backyard, and 6-year-old Rumi. “My whole company is about doing good.”

But being a mom, a model, and running a business on two coasts isn’t easy, even though Maran makes it look effortless. “It’s tough and gets tougher as I work more and travel more, but the main thing is I’m very passionate about what I’m doing. If you’re happy and passionate and creative in your life, you make it work and you look forward to going to work every day. You also look forward to coming home.”

Her husband, Ali Alborzi, serves as her company’s president, and even though they work long hours, Maran says they know when to pull the plug, making time to get together with friends and family at her favorite Philadelphia restaurants like Parc and Talula’s Garden, or just exploring the grounds of her 18th-century farmhouse. “I’m a very simple person. I love camping, going to the beach, trying to get outdoors as much as possible. I love dressing up and wearing sparkles and diamonds, as well as designing makeup in beautiful colors—but I get my inspiration from nature.”

Photography by:

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW ECCLES; STYLING BY JUSTIN MIN; Hair and makeup by Deana Piacitelli Styling Assistant: Ashley Vance