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Ardmore's Carie Brescia Mixes Art and Commerce

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Carie Brescia puts the finishing touches on Devan Costello at Salon Ziza in Ardmore. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)When rumors got out that Bravo TV’s Real Housewives franchise was casting for a show locally, women from Merion to Wayne speculated on who’d actually have the chutzpah to open their personal lives to millions of viewers. One name thrown around was Carie Brescia.

Brescia isn’t technically a housewife, but the Ardmore resident is divorced and does have a 13-year-old son. Flawlessly gorgeous, she has a physique that screams “Pilates instructor,” and her active social life revolves around favorite haunts on Rittenhouse Square. She also has an enviable job as NBC 10’s makeup artist.

What Brescia doesn’t have is the self-absorbed mean streak many of the more compelling Housewives possess. But she does have a new business to promote.

As it turns out, the rumors of Bravo TV’s cameras invading the Main Line were unfounded. For her part, the 40-year-old Brescia (“I used to lie about my age, but now I own it.”) isn’t sold on Real Housewives, anyhow. “I’m up for doing shows that send positive messages about my brand,” she says.
 

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Brescia recently submitted her new Compact Beauty line for consideration by producers of ABC’s Shark Tank, a show where entrepreneurs present their business ideas to a panel of filthy-rich investors. There were no new developments on that at press time. Meanwhile, Brescia is looking for financing elsewhere.

In 2008, Brescia chose to stay local, launching a makeup line under her own name and carried by high-end salons, including the Four Seasons Spa in Philadelphia, Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa and Salon in Glen Mills, and Salon Ziza in Ardmore. She even named the lipsticks in the collection after female personalities at NBC 10. It was well received around the area, but Brescia was looking for more. “I knew if I wanted to launch a national line, it had to be something people haven’t seen before,” she says.

First conceived seven years ago, Compact Beauty is Brescia’s downsized answer to a full-size dilemma. “The first release will be a collection of retractable makeup brushes,” she says. “The brush can be covered when it’s not in use, which makes it easier for carrying and more sanitary.”

Brescia is looking to raise $500,000 before the launch. She’s more than halfway there, thanks to support from Main Line and Philadelphia investors. She wants to roll out the collection sometime this fall. “Everything is lined up and ready to go,” she says.
 

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A Connecticut native, Carie Brescia first picked up a brush professionally a few years after graduating from Hofstra University in New York. “For a brief second, I thought I wanted to be a weathercaster,” she says, laughing. “That didn’t last long. I started bartending in Manhattan, because I needed to pay rent.”

Then a friend landed her a one-day job working for acclaimed makeup artist Bobbi Brown. “I loved it—and I was really good at it,” she says. “I was 26 years old and finally ready to have a regular job.”

Brescia joined Brown’s makeup team, where she remained for several years. On the brink of landing her own makeup gig on a soap opera, Brescia put her plans on hold when her then-husband was transferred to Philadelphia. “I didn’t want to leave New York,” she admits. “I was finally settled, doing something I loved.”

She did so on Sept. 10, 2001, missing 9/11 by just a day.

“It was meant to be that we moved here,” says Brescia.
 

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Within weeks, Brescia landed a job at Bluemercury. “I literally was walking around Philadelphia, going into places asking if they were hiring,” Brescia recalls. “When I walked into Bluemercury, the company’s president, Marla Beck, happened to be visiting the store that day. She hired me on the spot.”

From there, Brescia went on to work for cosmetics powerhouse Trish McEvoy, serving as an international makeup artist and trainer for the brand. “It was a lot of traveling,” she says. “I was visiting stores along the East Coast, as well as stores in London.”

The travel became too much for a single mother with a young son, so she decided to branch out on her own. “I certainly paid my dues in this business,” she says. “I was incredibly lucky to work for two of the most successful and well-respected women in the beauty industry. From Bobbi, I learned so much about the creative side of the business. From Trish, I learned the business side.”

Now, Brescia has positioned herself to follow in the footsteps of her beauty mentors. Along with a solid roster of private Main Line clients and bridal work, her steady job at NBC 10 keeps her busy every weekday afternoon. “I met Carie years ago at a fundraiser,” says NBC 10 anchor Dawn Timmeney. “I’ve had her do my makeup for events outside of work, too. She’s truly an artist.” 
 

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And thanks to new technology, Brescia’s job is even more exacting. “Switching to HD television made it even more crucial that on-air talent have professional makeup,” she says.

Brescia has also landed a number of juicy freelance contracts, working as a local spokeswoman for national brands like Covergirl and Olay. She’s also done makeup work for the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, along with Pamela Anderson and Taylor Swift when they were in the area.

All the money Brescia makes from her various jobs she invests back into her business. “I’ve lived within my means,” she says. “This company has been a lifelong dream, and I’m focused on making it a reality.”

Credit Brescia’s small-town upbringing with keeping her grounded. “I’ve made so many connections throughout my career, and I’ve always treated people well and with respect,” she says. “It pays to do the right thing.”

Brescia also feels indebted to her new hometown. “If it wasn’t for Philly, I’d probably be doing soap opera makeup in New York City,” she says.

This time next year, Brescia hopes to be selling her line at Sephora or on QVC. “One thing’s for sure: I’ll be working my tail off and pinching myself along the way,” she says.

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