Elevating a makeup brush to something that could perform both as a superior accessory and also as a vanity piece hadn’t yet been done. But that’s what Matthew Waitesmith set out to achieve after retiring from a fulfilling 20-year career at M.A.C.

“As a makeup artist I knew makeup brushes were just paint brushes; they weren’t created to put on makeup. And there was no innovation, no creativity. Everyone was sleepwalking through the category. I wanted to transform it,” said Matthew.

Credited with heading up the M.A.C Artist Training and Development (AT&D) program prior to the company being purchased by Estée Lauder, Matthew ascended the corporate ladder over two decades. When he retired in 2008 as Senior Vice President, Global Artist Training and Development, he thought his passions for art, painting and photography would be enough to fill his time. But his interest and ideas for the beauty industry were still very much alive.

“I knew that $1 out of every $10 is spent on accessories, and I knew the category was untapped,” Matthew said, and he wanted to shake up the segment.

For design inspiration for a new line of makeup brushes he set out to create, Matthew looked to his own hands and fingers to take the creation of makeup application to the next level.

He was so proud of his first collection he thought to visit his former employer in 2013 and present it to Estée Lauder’s corporate product development department to see if it could be used by one or several of the Lauder brands. Immediately, he said, M.A.C wanted it. That year a line of M.A.C brushes designed by Artis launched, showcasing three different SKUs.

The following year Artis was solely launched on its website, artisbrush.com.

From there, the brand launched on netaporter.com where it “took off rather quickly.” Artis then expanded into specialty retail stores, including Neiman Marcus, positioned as a high-end luxury item, breaking the traditional mold of makeup brushes.

Today there are four Artis design collections with different substyles and finishes within each collection, some in 24k gold, with price points ranging from $75 to $495. Artis is sold in more than 350 retailers worldwide.

Being beautiful has its advantages. The brushes are often featured on social media, especially on Instagram, by makeup enthusiasts, makeup artists, beauty editors and early adopters. The brand sees social media as a key way to connect with consumers.

“As the originator of a new beauty category our initial responsibility was to create a story and start a conversation with early adopters. By consistently nurturing and listening to them, they have grown into loyal users and preachers of the brand. We realize their true power and influence, and communication through different mediums, positively disseminates the brand’s message every day,” said Jeremy Adelman, Artis Managing Partner.