Dana Wood wears a lot of hats in an average day -- and she likes that. After all, she did help write her own job description for the position she has held for 18 months now: assistant vice president, prospective for the luxury division of the biggest beauty house in the world, L'Oréal.
Wood, who never saw herself on the manufacturing side of the business after writing about it for 10 years, now can't imagine anything else. "I told my editor friends at other magazines a few years back that we had better have a plan, because I didn't think we could do this forever," says the former beauty director of W magazine. While Wood never planned on this kind of job, it is one that takes her all over the world and to beauty counters in every port as a trend spotter for her two high-profile bosses in New York and Paris.
The title doesn't mean that Wood has put down her pen, however. She does plenty of writing in her new post, her words now gracing bottles to banner advertising for the 11-billion-dollar company. She's also the editor-at-large for Lancôme.com, penning the monthly "What's New" column for the site. "This is going to sound corny, but I get such a thrill that something I write influences a purchase. It's total commerce." She's referring to the Website's e-mail program: Visitors can write in and Wood answers them, explaining the benefits of the products she suggests.
In addition to keeping her finger on the pulse of the beauty industry -- from new lines and store openings to customer spending habits -- Wood provides research assistance to her bosses, Paris-based Beatrice Dautresme, head of strategic development for all of the L'Oréal, and Philip Shearer, president of the luxury products division of the company, who operates out of the New York corporate offices. "I love, love, love this part of the job," effuses Wood, who uses her reporter's skills to gather information about brands the company might be interested in buying.
In the past year, L'Oréal has acquired the much-sought-after brands Kiehl's and Shu Uemura. "I do everything needed for my bosses to make their pitches for a possible purchase. I also make sure to put up-and-coming brands and people on their radar. They're too busy with the day-to-day parts of the business to know about every hot new product, boutique, hotel and restaurant. It's my job to do that legwork." While Wood travels to France four to five times a year for meetings and to scout the stores, she also goes to Bologna, where the famous Cosmoprof beauty trade show is held each year. There she keeps on the lookout for hot indie brands L'Oréal may want to watch. "The show is like the size of 10 football fields -- all beauty products," she explains.
Wood is currently preparing for her Paris boss' next trip to New York. She plans to take her to the new Lauder store in the Flatiron Building, the Helmut Lang perfume store in Soho and to Takashimaya on Fifth Avenue, where their Shu Uemura brand is sold. She also will have the opportunity to practice her French skills with Dautresme. "People say my vocabulary is pretty good, but I have to work on my accent."