As her brand celebrates 25 years, the woman behind Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Oprah's brows reflects on her incredible career: "This is the American Dream"
When Anastasia Soare immigrated to Los Angeles — a place she’d dreamed of living in after seeing it in movies like Pretty Woman — to escape the hardships of life in communist Romania in 1989, she struggled to adjust to her new home.
Soare, who was 31 at the time and had a one-year-old daughter Claudia, didn’t speak English, yet she sought solace on the small screen — particularly a one-hour program she called “the woman show.” Captivated by the host, even though she didn’t know who she was or what she was saying, Soare became a faithful viewer and even joked to her then husband that one day she would be a guest on the show.
That “woman show” host was Oprah Winfrey. And 10 years later, Soare, now 65, appeared on televisions nationwide to demonstrate her famous eyebrow-shaping technique on the queen of talk herself. “It was my Oscar moment,” she says.
The daughter of two tailors, Soare studied technical design for five years followed by two years of beauty school in Romania. When she moved Stateside, she found work as an aesthetician at a salon in Beverly Hills, where her journey from brow artist to billionaire business woman would begin as a result of what her now close friend Winfrey would call an “aha moment.”
"“Whenever I’m speaking to any group about what it takes to be successful, I always lead with Anastasia’s story. She embodies self-empowerment, taking a skill she had a passion for — shaping brows — and turning it into a full-blown empire. After my first experience with her, I felt like I’d gotten a facelift. I’ve trusted her ever since. I’ve proudly watched her relentless work ethic in building a whole brow movement.” — Oprah Winfrey"
While performing facials, she realized that none of her clients were grooming their eyebrows. She had learned in art school that you could shift a person’s emotions in a portrait by changing their eyebrows and she applied that knowledge, plus the Golden Ratio — a mathematical principle about balance and proportion — to shaping arches.
“I unlocked something combining science with beauty,” Soare, 65, says of her (now patented) technique, which creates the illusion of facial symmetry. At the time thin, overplucked brows were the trend — but customers loved her fuller, more flattering approach.
She eventually decided to rent her own space (“The landlord didn’t want to rent it to me because he didn’t believe that tweezing eyebrows would be able to pay the rent,” she recalls. “But I didn’t take no for an answer.”) and start a business.
“My husband thought I was crazy,” she says. “I told him this is why I came to America. I needed to build my American dream.”
She worked nonstop at honing her skills, and soon she had a following that included everyone from Cindy Crawford to Michelle Pfeiffer. In 1994, Vogue gave her a glowing write-up, which not only kept her appointment book full, but inspired her to open the Anastasia Beverly Hills Salon in 1997. Her own eponymous product line followed in 2000.
Soare and her daughter Claudia, who worked as a receptionist at the salon and is currently president of the company, spent their weekends traveling to Nordstrom stores to teach customers how to use the Anastasia Beverly Hills brow products. Claudia suggested she could reach a larger audience via a then-new app called Instagram. In 2012, Soare shared her first post on the social media platform and immediately started connecting with beauty enthusiasts around the world.
From that moment, “everything exploded,” she says. She launched her color cosmetics line at Sephora in 2014 and by 2018, Anastasia Beverly Hills had a valuation of $3 billion.
"“Anastasia is truly a pioneer; she came to this country without any connections and has left an indelible mark on the industry. It took an incredible amount of grit, determination, and sheer willpower to become the successful entrepreneur she is today. I’m honored to call her a friend and celebrate all her accomplishments.” — Jennifer Lopez"
Soare attributes her success to her strong connection with her customers. “As a brand, we listen closely to our community—what they need, what they would love to see. Then we work to create something they’ll love.”
This year, Soare celebrated her brand’s 25th anniversary with a party attended by dozens of celebs, including Winfrey, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez (a client since 1992). “They supported me from the beginning and gave me confidence in what I was doing,” she says.
She wants to pay that encouragement forward through her partnership with United Friends of the Children, which provides scholarships to beauty school and mentorship to young adults who have aged out of foster care. “You don’t give them fish, you teach them how to fish,” she says.
"“I’ve known Anastasia for years and she’s always so generous with her time and energy - she’s a true inspiration and always so supportive of other women and their businesses. She’s had an incredible career and 25 years is a milestone to be celebrated.” — Kim Kardashian"
Reflecting on how far she’s come since the day she arrived in Los Angeles, there’s one moment in her career that stands out. It’s when her client Michelle Obama invited her to the White House for Christmas in 2014. “I took a picture under the seal and I said to my daughter, ‘This is it. This is the American dream.’”
As for her future — and the evolution of beauty in general — Soare couldn’t be more excited. “For such a long time there had been a one-size-fits- all mentality,” she says. “People are now making beauty their own: what’s best for their features, their skin tone, their particular aesthetic. There’s a chance to be different. I love seeing everyone embracing that.”
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