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Jane Iredale

by Kathryn Boughton

With a dog named Cookie, you might expect that cosmetics manufacturer Jane Iredale is sweet on animals. And you would be right.

“My cure to any difficult day is to take Cookie for a walk around Great Barrington,” Iredale said. “Cookie is a Mi-Ki, a fairly new breed developed in the 1980s that incorporates aspects of the Papillon, Maltese and Japanese Chin.”

Iredale, who has both her home and her company headquarters in Great Barrington, has long been a supporter of animals rights, both in the manufacture of her “cruelty free” cosmetics and in her commitment to local animal welfare groups.

“The ethical treatment of animals has always been at the core of our brand,” she said. “We’re recognized by both Leaping Bunny and PETA for our commitment to no animal testing at every stage of product development and manufacturing. We believe it is an essential element in our holistic approach to creating responsible, healthy beauty.”

Now, using the charming image of her little friend, Cookie, she has launched a new initiative to create awareness of the needs of homeless cats and dogs through a promotion that benefits the Berkshire Humane Society. In August, her Jane Iredale line of mineral makeup introduced a limited-edition makeup bag designed by the cosmetician and featuring Iredale’s dog. A portion of the proceeds from each bag sold will be donated to the humane society.

“Locally, we have long supported the Berkshire Humane Society–we even have a cat-spa named in our honor,” she recounted. “Contributing to our community is all-important and this is just one way we can have a positive impact.”

The Berkshire Humane Society, located in Pittsfield MA is a private, nonprofit animal support organization with the mission of ensuring compassionate care, treatment and, whenever possible, placement of homeless animals.

“We are making life better for homeless pets in our community and also making it easier for consumers to make a choice they can feel good about,” Iredale said.

Iredale moved her company to the Berkshires several years ago where she has indulged yet another passion, this one for preserving vintage buildings. Her company, which markets cosmetics in some 40 countries, is now located in the historic Bryant Elementary School, which had been empty since 2005 when its students were moved into new schools. Iredale transformed it into her LEED Gold-certified headquarters.

Iredale, England-born and United States-educated, founded her cosmetics company in 1994. She said in an interview with Preservation Magazine this year that the 1889 Arts and Crafts–style building, with its river boulders and cedar shingles, attracted her because of its sound architecture. “We really liked it because it spoke to our brand. We wanted something that had personality, something that could be an extension of the way we feel about (our) brand,” she said in the article.

Sensitive to the culture of the region, she saved what she could of the original building, even having pictures taken of the murals schoolchildren had painted on the walls. The pictures, framed in Lucite, now hang in the lunchroom.

Iredale founded Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, Ltd. in 1994, creating the first full line of makeup based on minerals. Seeing the potential of offering physicians a makeup that is good for the skin, she worked with plastic surgeons and dermatologists in the development of her line.

Before she formed her cosmetics company, Iredale worked in film, theatre and television, starting as a casting director for television commercials and working with models such as Lauren Hutton, Jaclyn Smith and Cybill Shepherd. Later, in film and television, she worked with actresses such as Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close and Sarah Jessica Parker. Among many others, she worked with Francis Ford Coppola on The Outsiders, Steven Spielberg on The Color Purple, for all the major television networks and for the BBC.

Iredale formed her own production company and produced more than 50 programs for PBS and HBO. One was awarded the coveted George Foster Peabody Award. She also won an Emmy for a film series on which she was the writer.

When she moved from film to theatre she was nominated for a Tony Award for the Broadway musical, Wind in the Willows.

Locally, her cosmetics can be purchased at Face Haven at 323 Main Street and Michele's Salon & Day Spa at 54 Stockbridge Road, both in Great Barrington; The Village Herbalist, 28 Main Street in Millerton NY; Seven Salon Spa, 7 South Street in Stockbridge MA; Cranwell Resort & Golf Club, Route 20, Lee Road, Spa Building, Canyon Ranch, 165 Kemble Street and T Fox and Company at 55 Pittsfield Road, all in Lenox MA.