We’re very excited to announce that Maggie and Annie Ford Danielson from Benefit are joining us on QVC UK on December 8th with fab Benefit products and their own special brand of energy. Born and raised in San Francisco, the sisters are the daughters of Benefit co-founder Jean Ford and nieces of co-founder, Jane Ford.
Maggie graduated from Tufts University in Boston with a degree in Economics and French and used to work in New York for a marketing firm. Annie graduated with a degree in Art History from UCLA. We caught up with the dynamic sisters to find out a little more about them and their iconic brand…
How did Benefit begin?
ANNIE: When Jean and Jane were in their early 20s they were feeling the itch to move out of their farm town community in Indiana and spread their wings a little so they moved to New York city to pursue careers in modelling.
They were these stunning 6 foot tall, identical twins with dark hair, so they were able to land some jobs. However, they had to do their own make-up on-set and realized that make-up was difficult and that so many women struggled with not only applying it, but also there seemed to be so many ‘rules’ that made women nervous and feel like they couldn’t do it themselves.
After a while they decided they needed a change so they moved to San Francisco and quickly realized that this was the city for them but they needed to make some money… and fast! So they decided to open a business and it was either going to be casseroles (which they knew how to make from growing up in Indiana) or a make-up store. They flipped a coin and the rest is history!
They started with just one store in a not-so-great neighbourhood in San Francisco and from day one they knew they wanted to do things differently. Their number one goal was always to just make each and every customer smile and feel good. If that was accomplished by helping them pick out a great concealer and a great lipstick then great, if it was accomplished by letting them complain about their boyfriend or husband then great!
It was always a casual, women’s locker room atmosphere that they created. Jane always says “We’re in the feel-good business… we just happen to sell a shedload of mascara!” It was actually our cult product Benetint that put Benefit on the map, originally called Rose Tint, this was created for an exotic dancer in 1977.
How did you both get started at Benefit?
MAGGIE: Both Annie and I never had this grand plan to join Benefit. It was never spoken about at home like “Someday when you girls join the biz.” In fact I thought I was going to be a doctor and Annie wanted to be an interior designer. Funny how things turn out though!
Jean and Jane never “rolled out the pink carpet” for us so to speak. They expected that if we wanted to join Benefit that we’d have to work our tails off from the beginning. And so we did! When we officially started in 2006, Annie worked retail at one of our boutiques in San Francisco and I worked in the New York area in department stores doing special events.
It was invaluable training for basic selling and really learning about the products and the customers. Then in 2008 the CEO approached me because Benefit was going to start a partnership with HSN and would I be interested in running the business and also Annie and I would go on TV to sell Benefit products. It was a huge undertaking but it’s been so rewarding and so fun! We also represent Benefit globally as the Global Beauty Authorities, doing everything from PR events, customer events, digital videos, social media stuff… you name it!
Additionally Annie is the Guardian of the Brand DNA which means she makes sure that the core DNA of our brand is upheld across all of the different platforms a person could experience the brand (products, visuals, social, digital etc). It’s very important that as we grow, we stay true to who we are and where we came from!
Do you have a favourite product?
MAGGIE: Annie and I definitely have some cross-over products that we both can’t live without but others that are very different. I have oily skin so I live for Porefessional, Boi-ing. Those products are lifesavers for me.
MAGGIE: But besides our different skin types we are Benefit girls at heart so we always focus on our brows with Gimme Brow, our lashes of course with They’re Real and for cheeks – I’m a HUGE Rockateur fan and Annie literally bathes herself in Hoola. No joke.
Join us on 8th December for more from Benefit.