Friday, April 10, 2009

First Look Fridays: Trae Bodge of Three Custom Color Specialists

Trae Bodge, Three Custom Color Specialists, makeup, interview, First Look Fridays, beauty interview, makeup creator
If you haven't heard of Three Custom Color Specialists, you're really missing out. This company is one of my all-time favorites, not only for their ready-to-wear line but because they can literally take any discontinued shade and recreate it. I had the opportunity to tour the studio last year and was blown away by the catalogue of colors the three founders -- Scott Catto, Chad Hayduk and Trae Bodge -- have recreated over the years. We're talking thousands and thousands of lipglosses, eyeshadows and the like! And this week I am thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Trae Bodge. Read on to find out how Three Custom began, her favorite products and so much more.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Newburyport, MA (a coastal town on the border of NH) and went to Governor's Academy nearby. After high school, I attended School of Visual Arts in New York City -- it my was my goal to live in NYC, after visiting my aunt here once a year when I was a teenager.

What can you tell me about Three Custom Color Specialists?
Three Custom Color Specialists is an NYC-based make up artistry brand with a cult following of Professional Makeup Artists, celebrities and beauty junkies. Our expertise in the custom blending of color cosmetics has led to an archive of more than 9000 discontinued shades dating back to the 1930s and more than 250 Ready-to-Wear shades for women of all skin tones.

How did you first become interested in beauty, and what led you to work in product development?
My mom opened a beauty apothecary when I was about 5 years old. As soon as I was old enough to work (or maybe earlier) I worked for her, custom blending fragrances and scenting lotions. I loved to mix, experiment and play and I have always had an interest in how things were made as well as the thought process behind their creation. I also loved art (my dad is an artist) so product development in the color field was a logical progression.

When did you create Three Custom Color, and how did it grow from an idea to reality?
In 1995, two friends and I started talking about where we wanted to go next in our careers. One of my partners, Chad Hayduk, and I had both studied under Roy Karel, founder of the indie custom blending line Visage Beaute that launched (and failed) in the early 90s. Roy was a real visionary, and from him we learned the practical aspects of custom blending cosmetics as well as the pros and cons of the beauty business.

From there, we saved our commission checks and tax returns (Chad and I worked for Kiehl's and our third partner, Scott, managed an art gallery) and started attending trade shows and formulating our concept. We launched officially in 1997, 100 percent self-financed.

What are some of the highlights in your career?
1) Being named an Elle magazine "Beauty Insider" a few years ago. SO cool!

2) When a makeup artist whose work I admire falls in love with our products. It lets us know that we're doing it right.

3) When my partners and I are asked by larger companies to lend our expertise to the challenges they are facing. I love having over 20 years under our belts and the value that has in the industry. It's great fun to step out of the Three Custom box and apply what we've learned to other related but often wildly different situations.

4) We have been fortunate to have been given a number of awards (Allure Best in Beauty, Redbook MVP, Real Simple "Best of" and several trade association awards). It's tough for indie brands to make a name for themselves so that type of commendation in this very competitive field is really affirming.

What are your top 3 makeup tips?
1) The perfect concealer can achieve a lot. If you only do one thing in the morning, use concealer.

2) Smoky eyes are not impossible! Experiment with applying a dark colored pencil along the lashline and buffing out and softening the line with a dark eye shadow. Instead of black or grey shadow, try bronze, navy or purple for splash of sexy, but subtle color.

3) Make sure your brows are groomed. Have them shaped or trim and tweeze yourself if you don't need much help. Use brow gel to keep them in place. A groomed brow frames the face.

What is your favorite Three Custom product and why?
That's a hard one because I love so many. Right now, I'm really loving our Creme Concealer/Foundation -- for personal and professional use, it's so versatile!

Three Custom Color Specialists, Three Custom Color Specialists Creme Concealer/Foundation, concealer, foundation, makeupWhat are the products and brands you simply can't live without?
I use all Three Custom for my color needs.

For skin care: Clinique, Olay and Remede.

For hair care: Re-nu by Joico, Pantene and Philip B.

For body: I love Juara Skincare, Clinique and Aveeno.

For nails, I love Lippmann Collection and Rescue Beauty Lounge.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
One of the things that brings me the most joy is working with a client who isn't feeling so confident about her beauty. It's my job to help her feel beautiful, so to achieve that is really satisfying for me.

Playing with beauty products must be fun -- but what are some things you do for fun outside of being a product creator?
I love spending time with my favorite people -- my husband, my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, my mom, dad and our extended family of relatives and friends. I love good food and wine, being outdoors (in good weather), scuba diving, travel, reading contemporary fiction, and magazines -- The New Yorker, NY Magazine, Real Simple, Lucky, Cookie and other beauty mags -- on my commute.


  1. aw, Trae is such a nice lady

  2. I feel your blog really useful and inspiring me. Thank you.

  3. I knew Roy Karel. What a gifted, sweet guy he was.

  4. This is something special! never seen this before! thank you!!!