A Big Beauty Breakthrough

Revlon Appoints its First Female CEO – EVER

Merely months after being named Chief Financial Officer in January 2018, Debra Perelman breaks through the cosmetics glass ceiling at the beauty conglomerate as its first-ever CEO in its 86-year-old history.

    Forty-five-year-old Perelman, daughter of long-time Revlon billionaire, Ronald Perelman, will replace the beauty giant’s former CEO, Fabian Garcia. Garcia resigned earlier last year after only two short years into the challenging role amid struggling to boost the flailing iconic beauty brand’s diminishing revenue.

    In recent earnings, Revlon saw net sales decline, reporting losses totaling $61.7 million, almost $20 million more than its losses in the first quarter of 2017. Perelman believes the brand is suffering due to its lack of strategic influencer marketing power – an effective marketing trend that cosmetics competitors, such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, who’ve acquisitioned younger, influencer-based brands like Urban Decay and Too Faced, respectively, have seen much success with.

    Founded in 1932 by brothers Charles and Joseph Revson as simple nail polish supplier before expanding into a full line of makeup, hair care, and skincare essentials, Revlon was acquired by billionaire businessman Ronald Perelman’s investment firm MacAndrews & Forbes in 1985 and owns nearly 87% of Revlon and its classic sister brands Elizabeth Arden and Almay. Despite its predominantly female customer base, the brand has never appointed a female CEO until now.

    Dismissing nepotism played a factor in her rise to her new executive role, Perelman insists her twenty years of dedicated, illustrious experience in strategic, leadership roles at both Revlon and MacAndrews & Forbes awarded her the prestigious position. “I have a good sense of the company and obviously the business itself,” she tells Fast Company. Perelman began working for Revlon in 1998, becoming a board member in 2015.

    Perelman understands she has her work cut out for her and realizes an immediate, imperative shift in innovative, strategic marketing is what’s needed to level the playing field with Revlon’s more successful rivals. Perelman hinted at a complete overhaul of its digital marketing mission and content trajectory. As COO, she wanted to ramp up the company’s overall digital presence, while expanding its e-commerce footprint. As the cosmetics company new CEO, Perelman plans on continuing those ambitious efforts by implementing an exclusive data and analytics group and investing in a creative, in-house content team.

    We’re in a position where we have a beauty company that really thinks about women and puts
women at the forefront of what we do in the market, in terms of our messaging, and I believe
that having it be run by a woman is incredibly exciting…I think this is another first for the
company that I’m really honored to be a part of. – Debra Perelman.

    As of 2019, just twenty-four women head Fortune 500 companies. Surprisingly, women placed at the helm of beauty companies are shockingly rare, as rivals L’Oreal and Estee Lauder – two of the largest beauty companies - are represented by men. Conversely, Avon had been led by women for years, including former CEOs Sheri McCoy and Andrea Jung, and now Jan Zijderveld.

We congratulate Debra on her exciting, unprecedented role and look forward to what’s in store for the legendary beauty brand. Good luck, GoGirl!