Lise Watier: her name is synonymous with beauty and class.
Forty-six years after she launched her now world-renown product line, this Great Montrealer remains as glamorous as ever.
Lise Watier, the make-up line, emerged from a need Lise Watier, the person, had to help women.
“I’m a missionary at the bottom of my heart,” she told Global News.
“I saw there was a need — I felt it — and I knew that I could help.”
Born in Montreal’s east end Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood, Watier grew up an only child.
By the mid 1960s, she was a TV star, using her position to open a school to help women feel more confident.
“Today, still you know, I meet people on the street who tell me, ‘you know, I went to your school and I still apply the rules or the things you told us,'” she said.
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That’s when she solidified her idea to create a make-up line.
“I started a small company with a chemist in Montreal after visiting maybe 10 to 12 chemists who refused to work with me,” Watier told Global News.
“I found one who said, ‘yes I’ll help you.'”
She remained at the helm of the brand until she stepped down as chief executive in 2013; the company was sold in 2016.
“I’ve had years that were very hard, but I was not the person in the company who was interested in sales. I was the person interested in creating things that women would love and this was my passion and I was very tough on this,” she said.
“I have lived for women and giving back to women is a natural for me.”
The Lise Watier Foundation was launched in 2009 with the goal of offering women at risk a chance to build self-confidence, obtain an education and financial independence — maybe even start their own business.
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“I feel today that trying to help women in need get their financial autonomy is the way we can change the world,” Watier mused.
“A woman who takes her life back into her own hands, she has choices. She can send her children to better schools, she can dress her children, she can feed her children, so by helping mothers we help children.”
Marie-Lise Andrade, Watier’s daughter, is now the general manager of the foundation, ensuring that her mother’s vision endures.
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“I’m very privileged to have my daughter taking over the foundation because she has it in her heart,” she told Global News.
“Beauty is not in the appearance. Beauty is the way you speak, the way you look at people, the way you have compassion for people — this is the real beauty.”