Beauty And The Boss: Anne Curtis Gets Real About Pursuing Her Dreams And The Hard Work That Goes Along With It
She gladly told us how she got started, what the transition was like, and what fellow dreamers can learn from her.
Under the right circumstances, the littlest, most fleeting daydreams can blossom into realities full of potential and promise.
It will, however, require sacrifice, and demand time, patience, and perseverance—all of which are strictly non-negotiable. Only those with the stamina to climb the highest of highs and resilience to recover from the lowest of lows will be rewarded, or, in other words, success doesn't come easy!
Just ask Anne Curtis Smith, an A-list actress turned burgeoning beauty entrepreneur reaping the results of her hard work, and she'll gladly tell you how she got started, what the transition was like, and what fellow dreamers can learn from her.
After all, what was once just a casual idea has catapulted Anne to next-level star status in unchartered territory. It's a success that’s proven to the next generation of 21st century multi-hyphenate women that their dreams of being and doing more in their lives are, in fact, within reach.
"Honestly, I didn't want to be a businesswoman," Anne teases, following it up with her signature laugh reminiscent of more carefree times.
They're words we would have never believed if they hadn't come from her herself.
It’s a surprising opening statement as Anne is the proud co-founder, creative director, and occasional model of blk Cosmetics, a homegrown beauty brand that features a deep bench of beauty must-haves with competitive quality and friendly price points.
"I wouldn't like to say that being a businesswoman was my biggest dream; it just so happened that being part of a makeup company, that was my dream. It's different for those who want to be CEOs of a company one day; that was never my dream. [For] me, it was being part of a company that would bring happiness to any consumer. That was my goal," Anne continues.
Rather than sit back in satisfaction as she reflects on her quick rise to the top, this strong newcomer in the beauty industry leans forward in earnest to let her audience know that she—and her brand—mean business, and most importantly, that they’re here to stay.
“Our biggest vision is hoping that one day, every Filipina will own a piece from blk. Everything is looking bright and happy. In five years, I hope that everything continues to grow and that we're still able to be where we are today, but bigger and greater and bolder,” Anne assures.
Bright-eyed and optimistic about her future as a businesswoman (a credit in her resume that she’s still getting used to), Anne didn’t always have the confidence she does today.
Like many women wishing to push themselves beyond what they knew they were capable of, Anne was unsure about ushering in a new non-showbiz-related chapter in her life, and more so when she imagined putting a team together to help her get there.
As the prequel of this success story goes, Anne was but a rising star when she began toying with the idea of investing in a business 10 years ago. She’d always known that she wanted to dabble in makeup, but as all aspiring entrepreneurs wonder, she asked herself, "How do I get there?"
The idea was moved to the back burner as her career skyrocketed over the years, with Anne devoting only a few days at a time that were similarly far in between to developing the brand. Her attention was divided and her efforts insufficient, and she knew it. So maybe, she thought, the path wasn't right for her after all.
Anne recalls, "This has been a long journey for me. I've met so may suppliers. I even asked Robbie [Piñera] to go to the different beauty fairs and he'd bring back all these different suppliers. I went to Japan, I met suppliers, and they were even willing to do a small quantity for me to be able to launch. But then, doing this by yourself, I couldn't take that extra step forward."
Discouraged, Anne considered changing gears completely and pursuing a business in footwear instead (no one says she can't do so now, especially that she's already proven her mettle in entrepreneurship).
But in all things that were always meant to be, a crucial intervention took place in the nick of time. In Anne's case, it came in the form of Roxanne and Ericsson Farillas, heavy hitters in the local fashion and retail industry, who one day, thought to ask her about how her beauty business was doing.
Unlike the usually bubbly Anne, she responded with a half-hearted smile at the time and told them that her plans just weren't rolling out the way she had envisioned. It was harder than it seemed, she admitted, and mentioned too that she simply didn’t have the manpower to get this show on the road.
Expecting conversation to go on in routine fashion with a couple of sympathetic nods from the husband and wife, Anne was more than pleasantly surprised with how it ended.
"They told me that they'd like to introduce me to some people that would work [with me] as a team. That's when I met with Jacqe Gutierrez and Stephanie Abellada," Anne explains. And with their extensive brand building, marketing, sales, and business management experience under their belts, they were truly the best partners that a creative director to a start-up could ever ask for.
With these ladies and their corporate expertise onboard to complement her creative energy, Anne knew that she had struck gold.
"I already had my pegs and samples from other suppliers! Everything was just in sync—our vision, who we wanted to speak to, who we wanted to reach out to. Everyone was just on the same page and that's how blk came about," Anne narrates, this time, with an audible tone of excitement that comes with telling the tale of her great new beginnings as a bona fide entrepreneur .
“Patiently waiting for the right people to partner with—that's a huge essential to entering a business, making sure that you get along with the people you're with, that everyone can bring something to the table,” Anne adds.
After the brand's successful launch in 2017, it’s safe to say that it’s been a goal met with precision and love, one that’s certainly given way for Anne’s entrepreneurial spirit to soar beyond the horizon. blk has snowballed in popularity and sales, with several of its products becoming staples in many a Filipina's kikay kit. From contour palettes, mousse-finish velvet lippies, to mestiza and morena-perfect shades, eyebrow sculpting tools and everything in between, blk has covered all the bases of modern cosmetics and is impossible not to notice.
Even then, there are still days when Anne is unable to grasp how far she’s gone—or more accurately, that the dreams of Anne 10 years ago have actually materialized.
"Launching blk, making a name in an industry where you're up against such big international brands, but still being a choice for a Filipino market—I think that's a huge achievement. It's so hard to penetrate the market, so to be able to still be here after two years, that's great," Anne says.
Even with that feather in her cap, she's careful not to let the accomplishment make her complacent; adopting a businesswoman mindset, she knows that this is simply the start and more milestones—bigger ones—are waiting to be ticked off the checklist. The work wheel never stops spinning, but she'll gladly keep up with its pace, because if there's anything that she's learned in this process, it's that she's actually always had it in her to make it in this arena.
"I [learned] that I really do have marketing skills. I know how to listen to people, how to serve my consumer in the best way that I know how," Anne reveals.
“In a way, that's a great message to send out: even when you think you can't, you can,” she continues.
Just last month, Anne, Jacqe, and Steph launched their newest collection blk Universal, that's been the most accurate representation their "uncomplicated beauty" tagline so far, thanks to its neutral shades, ease of use, and gender-inclusive appeal. It follows the heels of their 90s collection that speaks of Anne's undying fascination of the era, and its peachy, glowy K-Drama edition that channels everything she loves about the pop culture phenomenon.
One quick look at all that blk has done and it becomes clear that it's a venture that makes Anne happy—there are no regrets here, just a ton of passion for the business and the desire to share it with the world. So much of Anne, her interests, and passions shine through in this project that blk is almost Anne herself in makeup form.
"When it comes to blk, I know who I'm speaking to as a creative director. I share who I am with the people I'm speaking to... That's a key thing when you're putting up any business. You don't just put it up because you love it, you put it out because you want to speak to people, touch them in some way for them to be able to connect to whatever it is you're selling," she explains.
And with these experiences, Anne has successfully settled into her dual identity as a showbiz darling and entrepreneur. But perhaps the most impressive feat of it all is how Anne was deliberate in her charting her life’s path, how there was a determined intention behind blk that pushed it to fruition.
“It's part of growing up. Aside from blk, I have a karaoke place, Rockstar. I think I'm just at that age where you have to start thinking about your future, being a grown up, moving onto other things outside of the industry. It's weird, but it's part of growing up,” Anne expounds.
blk was never just a side project she wanted in on for the moment; it was the next logical step for Anne who’s already a carved a name for herself as an actress, married at an age she was ready to settle down, and had room to envision a roomier future.
In that sense, blk isn’t just a makeup brand, either. blk is a manifestation of how far Anne has gotten in life and all the beautiful ways she’s taken control of her own destiny.
Produced by Kate Paras-Santiago
Photography by BJ Pascual
Makeup by Robbie Piñera
Hair by Raymond Santiago
Styling by Patrick Perez and Joy Bernardo of Stylized Studio
Assisted by Nicole Cuerpo and Rica Siena
Special thanks to Sheraton Manila and Hope Velasco