There’s an immediate feeling when you encounter a great product, story or brand. This feeling engages you to interact, connect and aspire. For Brand Creator Casey Georgeson, this is the ultimate goal. As a creative force behind some of the most influential brands in beauty, luxury and wine, Georgeson has perfected the art of storytelling with her unwavering vision and impeccably crafted messaging. Today on Mother’s Day, Casey inspires with the perfect story; an ode to her three daughters and the legacy of the strong women who led the way for her.
1. Who are you? What were you like as a child?
As a child, I was exuberant, happy and endlessly creative. I was constantly drawing, painting and sketching. I wrote plays for my class to perform, scribbled fashion designs and devoured books. I also had a passion for horses. I started working at the stables when I was 10 – mucking out stalls, grooming horses and teaching lessons. There was dirt everywhere and it was great.
At my core, I’m a creator, I innovate and I design. I love developing brands, products and stories that people cherish and covet. My roots are in the wine industry and I come from
four generations of wine entrepreneurs. Wine is my heritage, but the intersection of wine and beauty is where the magic happens for me. From an early age, beauty products were intoxicating. They were transformative and empowering. Makeup allowed me to play dress up and be grown up at the same time. I loved watching my Mom put on her eye shadow before work in the morning. Her process was mesmerizing.
In seventh grade, I mastered the ability to apply lipstick without a mirror. In college, I mixed lipstick colors or fragrances so I always had a new signature scent. In my twenties, I spent hours in makeup aisles sampling colors and formulas…My friends called me “Ask Allure” because I had so much random knowledge about beauty. By 30, I landed an exciting job developing cosmetics for a small team within Sephora. Today, I create wine brands with a fresh approach to the industry (and a beauty lens); blending the two worlds I love.
Who am I? Wife. Mama. Creative Director. Brand Creator. Innovator. I’m artistic, passionate and determined. My husband and my three daughters are everything to me.
2. You are a master storyteller, tell us a story that has influenced your vision and path.
I come from a long line of strong women. My great-grandmother Teresa is one of them. In 1900, she stepped off of a boat in San Francisco and married a man she’d never met before. Years later, during the Depression and the Prohibition, she decided she wanted to start a wine business. So…while her husband was away visiting family in Genoa, she marched into Bank of Italy and asked for a $10,000 loan. Her confidence was contagious because the bank gave it to her.
This is where it gets interesting – She gave $5000 to her five sons to start a winery…Franzia Brothers. And she gave $5000 to her son-in-law, Ernest Gallo, to start E & J Gallo Winery.
In a nutshell, a 4 foot 10 inch mom of seven kids started two of the largest wine companies of our time. She was one of America’s first female entrepreneurs and the original Girl Boss – 1930s style. Her legacy has impacted every layer of my career. She had extraordinary vision to start an alcohol business during Prohibition.
3. Your grandmothers gave you a strong sense of self, how have their lessons and doings trickled down to your three daughters?
All of the women in my family have lively juxtapositions of hard work and grace.
Teresa had moxie, grit and left an incredible legacy of entrepreneurship. My dad’s mom, Elena, was a smart, spitfire Italian who wore fake eyelashes (everywhere) and created a glamorous dream world for her life, even though she lived next to a farm stand. My mother’s mom, Maxine was Valedictorian with double masters degrees in the 1930s (when
women were not being educated) and had an inspiring philosophy about raising strong girls – Always be who you are, never stop learning and love your flaws. If my daughters, like their great-grandmothers, can imagine and create what they want their lives to be, I’ll consider that a success.
4. If you were to write a love letter to your daughter’s today, what would it say?
Sofia, Juliet and CeCe – I hope you always love yourselves as much as we love you. You each have different and extraordinary gifts. And you have one another. If you’re ever in doubt, remember these words of advice from your Mama.
5. You are the master of the narrative and have guided many brands stories to success…What is your discovery process for creating the most innovative story?
I recently heard an anecdote that creativity is like a train station. It’s important to sit down on the bench and wait for the creative train to come. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes it picks you up and takes you on a journey you didn’t expect.
The first brand I ever created was Cupcake Wine. It was 2006 and I had just left New York and my job at CNN to create new wine ideas for the Wine Group…Cupcake has grown into a major player over the past 10 years. Since then, I’ve developed nearly 20 new brands, many of them with a strong female point of view. We’ve also had unsuccessful concepts and I embrace those too. It’s not easy to let go of ideas you believe in, but moving on quickly is an important lesson.
Love Noir Wines, Ava Grace Vineyards, Chloe Wine Collection, Chandelier Sparkling Wine, D’Orsay Rose, Stave and Steel and Imagery are among some of my favorite recent launches.
In the beauty space, Marc Jacobs Beauty was one of the most interesting brands to develop because I was able to work with Marc from the very start. On the fragrance front, I fell deeply in love with Marchesa as we developed their perfume because of the beautiful embroidery and layers of design in their fashion. Disney’s Cinderella cosmetics line was SO MUCH FUN to create. My vision was for Cinderella to have a modern voice. If you were sitting with her in a wine bar, what would she say to you? What would be her advice? Kat Von D taught me the importance of having soulfulness to your packaging, formulas and brand voice. And to always stay true to your instincts.
Funny side note – One time I applied longwearing lipstick on my lips so Marc could see the product performance. Halfway through he said, so politely, “Casey you have quite a bit on your teeth.” Classic moment.
6. What does it mean for you to be an entrepreneur? How have you blended this role with the creative?
You have to be fearless to be an entrepreneur. You might succeed but you also might fall flat on your face. Going the extra mile allows you to break apart from the pack. My husband is an entrepreneur too so we talk about this a lot. In both of our worlds, it means never settling for the status quo. I’ve always been a tinkerer with products and brands up until the minute they launch. I believe that’s the difference between good and great – It’s how I sprinkle fairy dust and set my work apart. What looks easy never is.
My mantra is to be creative, be strong and be kind…Always. Keep your head held high even when you realize you have critics. I love what Coco Chanel said in response to critics hoping to steer her off course — “I don’t care what you think, I don’t think about you at all.” As someone who always does care, this is good advice for me. You have to keep moving forward.
7. How do you define love?
Love is 100% my husband and my girls and the life we’ve built together. He’s my perfect match. My little girls – where do I begin? I love these amazing girls equally and differently. They teach me about love every single day. I know that one day I’ll miss the years when they were small. That’s why I blend my work and home life. I never want to look back and feel like I lost out on this special time.
Love is also appreciating the gifts you’ve been given. Being grateful is scientifically proven to make you a happier person on a daily basis.
Love is about having deep compassion for yourself and others – Always try to be a better person and try not to worry about little things…It will only create wrinkles ;)
8. What’s the biggest lesson you want to pass to your girls?
I decided to do this story as my tribute to my girls and to show them they can do anything if they set their minds to it. They don’t have to settle for a path they don’t love. Or a career that doesn’t inspire them. I want them to know that if they work hard and put in their time (this is key), eventually they can chart their course and find the balance they need. This goes for both personal and professional development. I hope they pursue their passions and go easy on their mistakes. Drive and work need also to be balanced with compassion and empathy for yourself and others.
9. Talk about a day in the life for you, as a mom working a full time job from home?
When you work from home, your work and personal life are blended 16 hours out of the day. Unlike a traditional 9-5 where you clock out, I have to build in time for myself and for my family.
My husband is an incredible help on so many levels. My day is usually filled to the brim with a combination of meetings, design calls, creative brainstorms and an occasional baby class with CeCe. I always try to either pick the older girls up from school or be home when they get here. Early on, I realized I didn’t want to miss the updates that came in that 20 minutes right after school – the excitement, the hurt feelings on the playground,
the homework for the week. Whatever it is, being part of their days in those precious moments is really important to me. We always have family dinner when Zack gets home. Then it’s homework and bedtimes so Zack and I can catch up or get work done.
10.How did the beauty and luxury business influence your path in wine?
Wine is luxurious, but still a pretty traditional business. It is light years behind makeup in how it connects with its consumers. This was the biggest opportunity for me when I rejoined the wine industry – merging the two worlds and leveraging how beauty creates the dream and aspiration for wine drinkers. It is still a work in progress, but we’re making strides with the brands we’ve created. Love Noir is very influenced by fragrance and the darker side of wine. Its imagery is moody and definitely aspirational, unlike any other wine brand out there right now. Ava Grace tells the story of the beauty of the vineyards in a nice fusion of my two worlds.
11. What’s next for Casey?
I love developing wine brands. Wine is my heritage, and beauty is still a great love of mine so I can’t write off something in that space. Maybe one day … stay tuned ;)