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Dean & Davis Factor of Smashbox Cosmetics

. . . an exclusive interview with the men behind
SmashBox Cosmetics

by Bory Tan, The Doll Service
for Beverly Hills People

Nicholas Routzen photos by Nicholas Routzen
Dean and Davis factor

Factor Brothers

Sometimes family ties endure. That's the lesson from brothers Dean and Davis Factor, the great-grandsons of makeup legend Max Factor who formed SmashBox Photo Studios and Cosmetics in Los Angeles.

Braving the comings and goings of the celebrity and fashion crowd, Dean and Davis respond by keeping their line of cosmetics ahead of the trends with their stable of top makeup artists. And discerning cosmetics buyers keep rewarding Dean and Davis' devotion to their company.

Launched in the fall of 1996, SmashBox Studio Cosmetics lists Dean as the company president while Davis serves as creative director. Like Max Factor cosmetics, SmashBox reflects the Factors’ passion for making the world a more beautiful place for general consumers as well for Hollywood celebrities.

Beginning in the humble concession stand of a Russian-Jewish immigrant at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the Factor cosmetics dynasty unfolded like a textbook example of the American Dream. Max Firestein (Max Factor, Sr.) was the poor immigrant in question who came to America and faced many obstacles. Wanting to bring his success to great heights, he started out as a makeup artist to the Royal Russian Family before heading west to Los Angeles in 1908. His son Frank (who changed his name to Max Factor, Jr.) joined the family business while still in his teens and apprenticed under his father, eventually innovating the perfect on-camera makeup (a more natural and breathable alternative to grease paint). The emerging feature film industry took notice and the Factor name expanded with the major art medium of the 20th century. Once Max Factor products became a staple in every actress’s daily routine in the mid-1920s, father and son perfected versions of the product that could be enjoyed by women across America. By the time Max Factor Sr. died in 1938, the family empire was firmly established.

The Road To SmashBox

Despite their legendary pedigree, Dean and Davis didn’t feel any pressure to live up to the Max Factor name. In the 1990s Dean and Davis repeated history, but on their own terms by creating SmashBox Cosmetics. While the senior Factor's products derived from cinema’s golden age, the younger Factor's line was an outgrowth of SmashBox Studios. SmashBox Studio Cosmetics are fashionable, yet wearable for daily use.

Their concepts for new colors and new products come from the various designers and the beauty division of SmashBox. A lot of their inspiration comes from watching the fashion trends for a season and following the fashion reports.

SmashBox cosmetics are found on counters around the globe and maintain a socially-responsible reputation by not doing any animal testing. Dean Factor points to this fact with pride. SmashBox testing is done instead on make-up artists and SmashBox personnel. SmashBox Cosmetics prides itself on its posture as a consumer-friendly company that seeks to meet the needs of the consumer. They constantly strive for products that will be consumer friendly and assist the average woman with her cosmetic needs as well as the needs of their top professional makeup artists.

Just a few years ago, L.A. Fashion Week began as a group of forward-thinking designers hosting showcases for their seasonal collections in various locations around the city. IMG, long experienced at producing much of New York Fashion Week events, stepped in to develop Seventh on Sixth, bringing a more structured presentation to downtown L.A. just a few minutes from the Fashion District.

At this point the Factor brothers realized that they too had something solid to offer the emerging institution; they had who offered their large Culver City studio space for rent to various charity and party functions.

For two seasons the Factors and Seventh On Sixth hosted competing L.A. Fashion Week events, generating a healthy rivalry and a new awareness of L.A.’s wealth of design and creative talent. Eventually both sides ultimately agreed that joining together would create a much bigger impact for L.A. Fashion and now all fashionistas, photographers, journalists, and party socialites gather at the same spot during Fashion Week.
Dean and Davis factor relaxing
Beyond the world of illusion created by well-applied makeup, the Factors have an enduring commitment to a variety of charitable causes ranging from Los Angeles’ Cedars Sinai Hospital, to organizations benefiting children in need, to groups raising money for health-related organizations. Both brothers say that because they grew up surrounded by the contribution of their parents, aunts, uncles, and of course, their grandfather and great grandfather, giving back to the community is as natural to them as anything they do in their daily work for the fashion and beauty industries. Dean and Davis consider themselves very fortunate and they feel it is important for people to realize that charity is not just a business decision to keep SmashBox in a positive light beyond retail and media. It is a way of life for them.

“Because the government can only do so much, and we have the means to help different people in a variety of ways, we choose to act selflessly and give back to the community in a meaningful way,” says Dean. Adds Davis, “This is why we don’t just favor one cause over another. We have had a great family upbringing, and despite the family’s success in business, we’re not spoiled, and we’re expected to develop a work ethic. From our teens forward, we had jobs and worked hard to keep our part of the American Dream going. Now that we have made it on our own, giving back is even more meaningful.”
 
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