After Hedge Funds, a Career Rejuvenation

A hedge fund manager finds cosmetic inspiration at 30,000 feet

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1999, Julie Macklowe got a job as an analyst at J.P. Morgan Partners. She went on to Metropolitan Capital Advisors and SAC Capital Advisors, Steven A. Cohen’s hedge fund, before running her own $250 million fund, Macklowe Asset Management, for Israel Englander. But she soon grew frustrated with a post-recession market. “After 2008, the timeline compressed so much,” she says, “it became hard to make long-term bets.”

In 2009 she was flying to her friend’s wedding in Deauville, France, when her toiletries were confiscated by security. The expensive European replacements she bought gave her a severe allergic reaction. On her flight home, she sketched out on a napkin a luxury, travel-friendly toiletry kit that could get past the Transportation Security Administration. She would call it the It Kit.

Upon her return, Macklowe raised $300,000 from investors to cover the lab work. “I did all the testing on myself, much to the chagrin of my dermatologist,” she says. She then approached retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey, and Fred Segal. Within two years she had raised $4 million. Last November, Macklowe launched Vbeauté, a skin-care line with six creams in varying sizes. She has six full-time employees who all work out of a midtown Manhattan office. Currently she sells out of 37 stores. “My background in finance really helped me,” she says. “I could decide who the best partners were to grow profitably with.”

Next time she goes through security, the the only thing she might leave with the TSA is a free sample.