Tamar Bernstein–Schapira arrives at our interview wheeling a carriage with her five-month old son. She is lightly made up as befits the business that she has established – importing organic products manufactured by US cosmetics company Antonym.
Born in Israel to an American mother and an Israeli father, she was brought up in Miami, where her parents still live. But she always dreamt of returning to her native country.
“I came to Israel at age 19 as part of my studies, but I really wanted to go into the army,” she says. “So when I turned 20, I joined the army, where I met my future husband. We got married, and I stayed here. I studied international relations, government and politics. I was planning to go into the security field, but I got involved in business instead,” she recounts.
How did the change in career plans happen?
When I was in the army, I came in contact with the Heiseg Foundation, which helps lone soldiers. I was trying to find myself, and they advised me to look for opportunities in life. I turned my dreams into objectives, and I achieved them. I wanted to do something out of the box.How did you get into the makeup field?
I have sensitive skin. In Miami, I got to know Valerie Giroux, founder of the Antonym cosmetics company. I began using her makeup, and I really liked the fact that it’s based on natural and organic ingredients. In 2011, I decided to import it. I contacted Valerie through my aunt who works in production in Miami and knows her. Valerie wasn’t ready yet for international distribution, but she was open to the idea.How did you open the business in Israel?
I had a mentor from the Heiseg Foundation named Moshe (Chico) Gerstel. He pointed out that I didn’t have a clear direction in life, which lowered my motivation, but I understood that I needed to be more focused. We still get together, and he really helps me.
I began to sell the products by word of mouth. I contacted fashion and beauty bloggers and sent them brushes to try out. I also got in touch with makeup artists and set up meetings with them. Galia Toren-Chen, a branding and marketing consultant, turned my dream into reality. We built a marketing plan, I found an investor, and I began my career as a businesswoman.
When I got pregnant, I decided to combine motherhood with my career.
Now I take my little son Eytan with me to business meetings.What is the brand’s concept?
Antonym’s cosmetics were developed and manufactured without harming animals and with full consideration for sensitive skin and environmental protection. All the products are Ecocert certified natural and organic, and the brushes are approved by the Vegan organization. The line of products includes mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner, brushes and applicators. All the cosmetic packages are biodegradable and made of bamboo and aluminum, and all the brushes are synthetic.
The name of the company, Antonym, means “opposite,” which is Valerie’s goal: to provide women with more in terms of skincare and protection of the environment.
The products are sold in Israel in boutiques, health stores, makeup studios and on the Internet.