TORONTO — Jay Manuel has been a fashionable force at photo shoots and as a red carpet commentator, but the Canadian style guru once thought his career path would lead to a life in scrubs.
“I went to (New York University), but when I was still here in Toronto, I was studying and thinking I was going to go into medicine,” recalled the ‘America’s Next Top Model’ alum, who once had a summer stint working in a biochemistry lab.
“It was kind of weird growing up as a teenager because I felt this passion for the arts, but I loved the sciences.”
The Toronto native said he feels like he’s coming “full circle” as he’s combined his passions into the creation of Jay Manuel Beauty, which recently made its Canadian launch exclusively on The Shopping Channel.
Manuel, who got his start as a makeup artist, was hands-on in developing the products in his custom range, which was manufactured in Italy. He said he was in the room working with lab technicians in developing the products. The most enjoyable part of the process was in developing unique formulations for the line, most notably a foundation resembling a loose powder which transforms into liquid, Manuel said.
He partnered with IMPALA Inc., in creating the brand, the same company that owns Iman Cosmetics, launched by legendary supermodel Iman, a longtime friend of Manuel’s.
Central to the range is its Filter Finish Collection of face products, in addition to colour palettes categorized by three distinctive makeup looks: classic, iconic, and avant-garde.
“This is not just about putting makeup on your face,” said Manuel, who has served as a fashion correspondent for E! Networks and hosted fashion beauty lifestyles program ‘The Thread’ and makeover series ‘Style Her Famous.’
“Whether you wear a sheer amount or a heavy amount, it’s about helping someone realize their true self-image and realize that on the outside.”
Manuel said it was important to him to create a range suitable for women with a vast range of skin tones, and developed several shades within each category of light, medium and deep filters.
Prior to the items being available for sale, Manuel said house party events were held where women were encouraged to invite friends to test out the products and share their opinions on social media.
“When large brands don’t listen to their consumers they’re really missing out,” said Manuel. “I like to just keep my finger on the pulse.”