The Anastasia Soare Story: How a Romanian Immigrant Used the Free Market to Build an Eyebrow Empire
What comes to mind when you think of the free market?
Men in pinstripe suits? High-rise offices? KPI charts?
I’m betting you don’t think about eyebrows.
Yep, eyebrows. But believe it or not, the free market has made eyebrows as we know them possible.
If you’ve ever entered a Sephora or ULTA, or googled “best eyebrow products,” you’ve probably seen the name Anastasia Beverly Hills. In addition to their full line of cosmetic products, Anastasia Beverly Hills is possibly best-known for its eyebrow products. Why? Because in the early 90’s, founder Anastasia Soare developed a new eyebrow-shaping technique and changed the face-framing game forever.
So why does this have anything to do with the free market?
Because before Anastasia Soare could introduce her cosmetics revolution to Hollywood and beyond, she first had to escape communism.
Romania, 1986: Anastasia Soare’s husband, a ship’s captain, had defected to America. It would be another 3 years before she and her daughter would be allowed to join him. Of her time in Romania, Soare told Allure magazine, “It was quite impossible to do anything, especially as a woman. In a communist regime, there can be no entrepreneurial spirit—they’ll kill the idea before you even start thinking it.” In an interview on the Anastasia Beverly Hills website, she remembers that, despite living in her spacious family home, basic needs like heating and electricity were restricted under the repressive communist state. “I wanted to be free,” Soare told Fashionista. “That was the reason I came [to America.]”
Fast-forward to Los Angeles, 1989: With no connections, a 10-year-old daughter to care for, and unable to speak English, Soare arrived in America. Despite her education as an architectural engineer, she had spent her time waiting to leave Romania training to be an aesthetician, knowing that, with a 10-year-old to support, doing facial and body waxing was the best job she could get without a grasp of the English language. It wasn’t long though, before Soare noticed that her salon was overlooking a powerful beauty-boosting service – eyebrow shaping.
When her employer rejected her suggestion of offering eyebrow services, Soare decided to do it herself. Relying on her work ethic, determination, and the belief that she was destined to do something great, she convinced a salon to let her rent a room in which to offer her own eyebrow-shaping services a year after arriving in the United States. She’d learned in art school about the concept of Divine Proportion (also known as the Golden Ratio), and how changing the eyebrows in a portrait painting could completely alter the feeling of the piece. She began going to the library to study Leonardo Da Vinci’s use of the golden ratio, and developed her own technique for incorporating divine proportion into eyebrow shaping.
When her first celebrity client came to use her services, Soare didn’t even know yet who she was. “Remember, I was from a communist country where everything was censored,” Soare told Fashionista. But her technique was making waves with America’s biggest stars – six months into operating her own business, Anastasia Soare, the Romanian immigrant with limited English found herself shaping the eyebrows of supermodel Cindy Crawford.
Other supermodels would follow, along with movie stars and countless others. But none of this came easily. In the interview on her website, Soare remembers, “I don't even remember how many evenings I would go home and think, Oh my God, I can't do this anymore. I was ready to give up.” She continues, “Every single thing was a challenge. The bank didn't want to give me a credit card. The landlord didn't want to rent me the place [for the Anastasia Beverly Hills salon].... I think, sometimes when you start complaining, Oh I'm this, or I'm an immigrant, or I'm that, you stop yourself before forcing somebody else to stop you, because you don't believe that you will succeed. Every day somebody would tell me no, but I said to myself, I'm going to make it happen, and I did.”
With the opportunity afforded to her by the free market economy, Anastasia Soare used her ingenuity, work ethic, and determination to achieve something she would never have been allowed to in communist Romania. In 1997, she opened her own salon in Beverly Hills. She would go on to groom the eyebrows of such stars as Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and more.
In 2002, Anastasia Beverly Hills released its first product line, and has gone on to sell products worldwide. In addition to the company’s monetary success, Soare counts the legacy she’s created for her daughter, Claudia “Norvina” Soare, as one of her greatest achievements. Today, her daughter is the president of the Anastasia Beverly Hills company, and is making her own waves as a makeup designer, following in her mother’s entrepreneurial footsteps.
Anastasia Soare’s life is a glowing example, not only of how the free market allows anyone to achieve success, no matter where they’ve come from, but also of how the free market creates choices for all of us. For Anastasia Soare, the free economy meant the opportunity to start her own business, follow her passion, and provide for her family. For beauty-lovers worldwide, her use of the free market meant access to a whole new world of cosmetic products and techniques, a luxury we often take for granted. In addition to her impact on consumers, Soare has also been able to provide opportunities for others by employing anywhere from 200-500 people at a time (Glassdoor).
Soare herself acknowledges this impact in her interview with Allure, and we couldn’t have said it better. “I’m so blessed to be in this country that gave me the opportunity to work hard and take care of my family. And then I could build a company that could also take care of other people’s families."
So the next time you do your eyebrows and focus on the perfect arch, think about Anastasia Soare – once living without heat or electricity under communism, and now one of the most successful and impactful beauty entrepreneurs in the world.