When makeup artists and New York’s elite run out of their favorite discontinued shades (especially Chanel lipsticks and glosses), makeup artist Maria Giella Poblocki is their go-to woman. Her Giella Custom Blend Cosmetics line, which originated at Henri Bendel and is also available at boutiques and salons around the country, has changed the makeup game by giving customers the ability not only to customize new makeup but also to recreate their existing favorites.
“I think people see customization everywhere. At Starbucks they create the drinks that they want,” said Maria, who has spent 25 years in the makeup industry.
After working at various cosmetic counters in Saks Fifth Avenue, Maria earned an MBA in marketing, but found her true niche when an artist introduced her to the concept of color theory.
“I have no visual when I look at color. I study the depth, undertone and intensity of it. When people say that someone would look good in pink, I start to wonder, ‘Should it be deep? What color undertones should it have? There’s also hair and eye color to take into consideration.’”
Her idea was both simple and complex: To have a full line of ready-to-wear makeup while also offering customized products. To turn that idea into a reality, Maria spent years working with chemists, perfecting her own technical skills that enabled her to reproduce just about any product.
“As of now, the only thing we can’t customize is mascara, but everything else we can. You can pour your foundation into a stick and use it as a concealer. You can pour your lipstick into a compact if you prefer to use it with a brush. We also add treatments to almost all our products,” she said.
Maria takes full advantage of her line’s capabilities, encouraging customers to get the most out of their purchase by including other elements that decrease prep time and help heal the skin.
Her motto: Why have five steps because one product isn’t good enough?
Customers can create products that are tailored specifically to their needs. They can choose everything from the level of coverage to whether or not it has acne-fighting properties, shimmer, moisturizer or a sweet scent.
But perhaps Maria’s greatest achievement is her ability to duplicate existing colors, making the concept of “discontinued” makeup obsolete.
The replication process begins with a small amount of the original color which is then set aside on paper, analyzed and used as a reference point. Colors in both powder and liquid forms are carefully measured and recorded while being mixed together with the necessary ingredients in a glass test tube. Once the desired color is achieved, and enhancements have been added, lipsticks and pencils are poured into a quick heating mechanism that hardens the product, while polishes, some foundations and skincare can be directly poured into a bottle.
“Some colors can match right away in minutes. [The whole process] is very empowering.”