Vincent Longo, who will be celebrating his 20th anniversary as a make-up artist and make-up creator next year, has come a long way from mixing foundations for models in his kitchen on West 16th Street.

“It was 1994, and I was frustrated at the lack of colors available from the cosmetics’ market, so I started creating my own foundations for my friends, all who were models and wanted colors that matched their skin tones,” said the 52-year-old Australian native.

His make-up mixology caught the industry’s attention but it was his patented Double Duty Lip/Cheek Gel Stains and his Water Canvas Creme-to-Power Foundations that brought him into the cosmetic limelight.

“These became new categories and industry standards because they were so unique,” he explained. “I used technology people hadn’t experienced before.”

Today, Vincent works out of his office located in West Chelsea where he still holds the title as Founder and Creative Director of Vincent Longo Cosmetics, (an ever-growing rarity), and what is often considered an unpopular business decision. But when companies such as Estée Lauder own much of the competition (Bobbi Brown, Smashbox) it’s almost impossible to survive when you’re an independent niche make-up brand and make-up artist.

“There’s always a huge fear you’ll lose your vision and creative freedom if you agree to a buyout. I’ve always been an independent and I was intimidated with the idea of someone else controlling the brand. Those relationships come with a price,” Vincent admitted. “But on the other end, when you end your partnership with a big corporation you don’t have someone there to shoulder the blow. It’s just you who’s fallen on the playground, and you have to get up by yourself and ask, ‘Do I want to walk away or rebuild?’”

Vincent speaks from experience: In 2008 his 10-year-long partnership ended with Sephora. That financial loss, coupled with his desire to incorporate new technologies and more advanced formulas into his products, meant he was no longer in the public eye. His re-launch from soup to nuts with distributors, retailers and manufacturers has meant rebuilding his company make-up sku by make-up sku.

To date, Vincent has meticulously revamped over 250 products, while paring down his line from the 350 items that were offered through Sephora—Longo was the first brand to sign on when the stores hit the US in the Nineties. His new mascaras contain actives and ingredients such as rose water and peptides. His under-eye concealers have been reformulated to target puffiness, help remove dark circles and aid in increasing circulation. Eye shadows now boast olive extracts to help nourish the lids.

“Last year I released 45 new skus including blushes, bronzers and pressed powders. This year I created thin stick lipsticks, which offer full body texture, long wear, and natural hues; five new trio eyeshades, and double lip pencils,” he said. “Everything was developed to play into the tone-on-tone for the natural defined looks we’re seeing for summer.”

For niche brands like Vincent Longo, one-third of his revenue stems from the 60 independent stores that carry his line. Another third comes from his relationship with Nordstrom—he’s currently in 45 of their stores—and online beauty sites, including and Amazon. The last third is generated by HSN.

Having to reinvent yourself is never pleasant, let alone easy, and Mr. Longo has done it several times. (He recently parted ways with Space NK.) It would have been effortless for Vincent to say “uncle”. His family and friends are in Italy, on the Italian Riviera. He could have joined the family business, bakeries and grocery stores, and had an almost stress-less life.

“Beauty is my life. I’ve been doing it since I’m 20,” he shared. “It’s hard to walk away from passion, especially when you have vision and art to offer others. This company, this lifestyle is an investment in myself. I’m here to stay.”