When, where and by whom was the company founded?
Alcone was founded in 1952, in New York City, by Alvin and Harriet Cohen, hence the name Alcone. The company is now owned by the Mallardi family who purchased it in 1983.
How many people were involved in the founding?
It was the two of them. They realized there was a market for supplying makeup and necessary tools for showgirls and theatrical performers. Alvin’s parents owned a pharmacy in the same building where Alcone first started. It was probably a motivation for he and his wife to start a company of their own.
What was the first product the company produced?
Initially, it was mainly false eyelashes which were a very hot commodity for showgirls and actresses in New York City. However, as they grew, theatrical makeups like grease paints, pancake and more were offered from the main industry brands of that time — Steins, Max Factor, Mehron. In 1969, they expanded by acquiring H.S.G. (Henri S. Gompes) Cosmetics, a New York based theatrical brand that started in the ‘30s.
How many products are sold at Alcone today?
We stock well over 10,000 products. Maybe around 5% of those are Alcone brand specifically.
Can you tell us about the expansion of the brand?
Alcone has continued to grow with the industry. We understand that having the right stuff for the job is extremely important so if a professional artist needs it, then we will get it. We still carry the classics along with the new brands and products so it’s been an ever-growing company. In the early to mid ‘90s, we recognized that we needed a convenient location for artists to pick up their orders and any last minute supplies aside from our Long Island City location. Our first store front was on 19th Street and in the
beginning, was intended to be, more like a hub, but quickly evolved into a full retail store and was a home base of sorts for the pro community. We even had a wall that our big makeup artist clients would sign when they came in! In the early 2000’s we opened a second store in Hell’s Kitchen. The 19th Street store closed shortly after, but we continue to run our store on 49th Street, which has now incredibly become a destination stop for visitors from around the world.
How did the distribution change or evolve over the years?
There has been more competition lately regarding professional makeup distributors and though we still hold the professional community as our number one priority, we wanted to share our professional products with everyday consumers and makeup junkies. We also kept hearing people saying that they’re constantly recommending our products to friends and family. That’s when we decided to start a company originally known as
Alcone at Home, which offered our most sought-after products in consumer friendly packaging. This also created the opportunity for our customers to sell the products and earn commission. That company then evolved into what is now Limelight by Alcone.
What were the factors involved in the growth of the brand?
We have to stay on top of what our customers want and need, whether they’re a professional or an everyday consumer. We choose not to discriminate between the two. People ask all the time if you have to be a pro to shop at our retail store, but we have always welcomed everyone. Today the amount of consumers or makeup enthusiasts who are our customers has grown tremendously, which of course is also related to social media and high profile influencers. Once a makeup product is mentioned, we cannot keep it on the shelf. It really is amazing.
What other changes have taken place in the brand?
We have grown with the times by offering more brands that have vegan-friendly and cruelty-free products and minimal packaging, but we also must stay focused on who Alcone really is — a family run business that believes in supporting makeup artists and the artist communit. So whatever products we offer must meet the standards of the professional environment. Makeup is one of the most important contributors to a great performance or project and what we offer can help bring magic to life.
Are there any charitable organizations that Alcone supports?
We happily donate products to Material For the Arts. We also support Meals on Wheels, Dress For Success and just recently gave a percentage of our weekend sales to Hour Children, which supports incarcerated women and their families. Last year we hosted an event, a burlesque show, at the Stonewall Inn which was really great fun! The proceeds from the night went to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
What is next for the company?
There’s a lot that lies ahead for Alcone. We just launched an updated, more user-friendly website and will continue to bring in new and exciting products for our customers. We now have an in-house creative department which handles various aspects of marketing and social media, including staying on top of trends and what’s new in the industry. We’re also taking part in a new lifestyle, retail concept called Doing/Living, which is more consumer-focused than our store on 49th Street. It’s a very cool, open-style marketplace that’s providing a great opportunity for us to learn more about this customer and a constantly evolving area of the beauty industry. Most importantly, we are also so excited to be celebrating our 65th Anniversary. Here’s to 65 more!
Words Michael DeVellis
Photos Courtesy of Alcone