Annie and Maggie Ford Danielson are sisters with Benefits
Story by Liz Black / Photography by Joao Canziani
One would assume that the house of one of the creators of Benefit Cosmetics would be a Willy Wonka-esq delight of lipsticks and eye shadow, and that her daughters Maggie and Annie would don false lashes before they spoke their first words. “Contrary to popular belief we didn’t really grow up in a girly house filled with makeup,” said Maggie, “I think I became interested in makeup in middle school, maybe sixth or seventh grade when most other girls do. I remember wanting to wear Lip Smackers from Bonnie Bell because that’s when it was really cool to collect them and they have a lot of flavors.”
Sisters Jane and Jean Ford originally started the brand in 1976, but it was their creation of the infamous “Benetint” in 1977 that put them on the map. Originally created for an exotic dancer to make her nipples pinker, it quickly dawned on the Ford sisters that it would also be perfect for a lip and cheek stain. Benetint is easily their best selling product, and Annie gushed at the sheer mention of the stain. “This product is the most universal product that I have ever used. I love it for young girls who are just getting started in makeup because it looks incredibly natural, I also love it for women who are getting glammed up to go out, and older women. This product instantly gives a natural rosy flush to the complexion without looking like makeup, it is amazing!”
And while Jane and Jean have ruled with a floral-scented shimmer lotion coated fist, Jean’s daughters, Maggie and Annie prep themselves for their eventual takeover by inserting their own design ideas into the brand thanks to their newest make-up pallets, Maggie’s “Sunday Funday” and Annie’s “Scene Queen.”
Annie found her inspiration in Benefit’s Sephora cliental, seeing them as makeup mavens who love quality and ease in their products. “Instantly I knew that we had to create something that had an entire look in one kit, not just an eye pallet or trio of glosses, but everything from your eyes, lips, and cheeks,” explained Annie. “We wanted to make something that is as fun and it is functional, and honestly now that I have a set of these kits for myself I have never traveled lighter. I used to pack a makeup bag filled with single shadows, blushes, liners… now I pop these sets in my bag and I am good to go.”
Maggie looked towards her personal experience for inspiration when creating her pallet Sunday Funday. “I’ve lived in New York for seven years and Sunday brunch is definitely something that is near and dear to my heart,” Maggie elaborated. “I had that in mind when I created my kit because it’s a time when you want to be casual but still look put together. I chose the four specific eye shadow shades to appeal to women who might want to be really natural looking or amp it up a bit with the deeper shades but it’s still appropriate for daytime.
Although Benefit Cosmetics may have been dreamed up on the West Coast, Maggie & Annie count New York City as one of their favorite cities for make-up inspiration. “It might be over-said, but I think New Yorkers take the biggest makeup risks,” explained Maggie. “You’ll see everything from a crazy over-the-top, straight off the runway makeup look to au natural. It’s all about personal style and expression and makeup is part of that.” And the girls at Benefit are no stranger when it comes to “straight off the runway makeup” as many of their products are favored by editorial make-up artists as well as the make-up professionals backstage during fashion week. “We have great relationships with make-up artists. They really love all of our fake-its because again, they solve beauty issues.
Unlike other companies who sometime see complications with passing down the control to other members of the family, Benefit is truly making strides to integrate Maggie & Annie into its playful, witty ethos before Jane and Jean step aside someday. The future of Benefit Cosmetics looks to keep its humor and prestige well into the future with another set of sisters.