I still remember the feeling of picking up my grandma’s Revlon lipsticks as a young girl. Tucked away in her posh, pink bathroom I would apply them in secret, keeping them on only for a moment before I was forced to wipe them away, for fear of being discovered. Unfortunately, this is the only real time I’ve ever used Revlon makeup, which may explain why the brand is undergoing a bit of a crisis as it struggles to stay relevant. When a brand has been around as long as Revlon has (86 years!) it’s understandable that it may face some difficulty evolving. Makeup is nowhere near where it was when I first held those precious lipsticks in my hand as a small child, nevermind when the brand originated in 1932.
Shifting to the 21st Century
So, as a solution to this problem, Revlon decided to do something it has never done in its whole 86 years of existence- appoint a female CEO. Although this may be a new change for Revlon, this tactic is not new. Crisis often heightens women in places of leadership, something known as the “glass cliff” phenomenon. Revlon is no exception, the company posted an annual loss of $183.2 million in 2017, and sales have remained steadily downturned since. By appointing Debra Perelman as CEO the company hopes she will be able to turn around their bleak looking future.
Perelman is the daughter of the company’s controlling shareholder, so although this may be a step for feminism – it may also be a step for nepotism. Before this Perelman served as the company’s COO for a short four-month, but she has served on the board since 2015. Perelman also served as a senior executive at her father’s investment firm, MacAndrews & Forbes, which owns more than eighty percent of Revlon. Under Perelman’s new lead the company aims to focus more on innovation, as well as strengthening its portfolio of existing brands.
A Questionable Future
Being a CEO of a major company has always been somewhat of a pipe dream for me – something that I throw out once in a while when someone asks me about my future and where I see myself in it. But, while I wholeheartedly support the promotion and success of female executives, I can’t help but be wary of Perelman’s qualifications as CEO of Revlon. Despite the fact that she has been working at Revlon for quite some time, the family connections that most likely lead her to procure this position are slightly unsettling and make me wonder if she really has the chops for the job. From the tidbits of information she’s released about her vision and direction for the brand, it sounds like she’s on the right track to reviving the brand from its long slumber. Only time will tell if Perelman has what it takes to bring these visions into daylight, or if they will remain a mere pipe dream.