She laughs, remembering how she
would list every item of her budget,
figuring the numbers time and time
again in hopes of reaching a different
outcome. But the combination of mastering a balanced budget and the leadership skills she cultivated in her
position as the oldest of four children
in a single-parent household worked
in her favor. Tasting autonomy and
financial independence, Mosbacher
knew that someday she would own her
“At the end of the day you still
only have your reputation. And that’s
true of everything in life.”
president, CEO and
chairwoman of the
Borghese cosmetics company,
has found success in the business world by sticking to her
principles. Below she shares
some of her tips for making it
to the top.
■ Have tenacity. You can’t
be afraid of failure because
you’re going to fall into some
potholes. Failure is just a
detour sign. Take it as a lesson
and move on.
In addition to running Borghese, Mosbacher is
involved in political fund-raising and charities that
aid children and the elderly—she founded the
Children’s Advocacy Center in New York City. And
one need only ask about her dog, Eve, a Cavalier
King Charles spaniel, to find out how passionate she
is about animals. Eve’s face is just as familiar as
Mosbacher’s around the office.
■ Beware of well-meaning
people. People often want to
tell you what you can and
can’t do. You have to listen to
your inner voice, and that inner
voice should be a healthy one.
■ Think on a global level.
In the face of so much
need to think beyond the
Opportunity knocked in the early
1990s while Mosbacher was looking for
a brand, regardless of the industry,
“that was tarnished and needed to be
revitalized.” La Prairie, a failing cosmetics company, fit the bill. Mosbacher
raised the money to purchase the company by pitching venture capitalists
and investors. “I didn’t know one of the
people I went to,” she says.
While at home in New York City, Mosbacher, a
news junkie, reads two newspapers a day to relax. She
also singles out Peter Lance, who wrote Cover Up and
1000 Years for Revenge, as a favorite author, and adds
that she prefers to read nonfiction that reads like fiction. In the 1990s she even wrote two books of her
own, Feminine Force (Simon & Schuster, 1993) and It
Takes Money, Honey (HarperCollins, 1999).
■ Speak up. Know who to
ask, when to ask and how
This self-described type-A personality relishes
the “mind-expanding” banter available at the several
think tanks she frequents. She also enjoys anything
having to do with water—be it sailing, scuba diving
■ Be patient with yourself.
You don’t have to have your
entire life mapped out.
■ Stay motivated. Instead of
asking, “Am I doing it right?”
ask yourself, “Am I doing it?”
She turned the company around
and sold it three years later.
Realizing her aptitude for the cosmetics industry, Mosbacher kept her
eyes open for another opportunity. She
found one in Borghese. The New
York–based cosmetics company was formed in the
1950s, but has roots going back to the days of
Roman spas. She was intrigued by this brand
because “it had a lot of respect and retained its quality because it had not been kicked around from
owner to owner,” she says. “It still had a great reputation and good name recognition.”
Despite her high-profile life, Mosbacher keeps
her mother and siblings on speed dial and talks to
one, if not all, of them at least once a day. Whether
she’s laughing at a joke or talking about her passions,
Mosbacher often smacks the tabletop with an open
palm to emphasize a point.
When it’s noted what a firm handshake she has,
Mosbacher recalls how her mother used to line up
the children and make them practice shaking hands.
Her mother also replaced stories about Cinderella
and Sleeping Beauty with Norman Vincent Peale’s
The Power of Positive Thinking.
Mosbacher, who is single, has tried the Prince
Charming route, and the fairy tale crumbled each
time. “I’ve known the pain of divorce, and I’ve lived
through it,” she tells The Connection.
Employees: 150 to 200
After consulting for Borghese for a year,
Mosbacher took over in 2000. She immediately
closed the doors to half of the line’s outlets to retain
the exclusivity of the brand. Then, in a move that
mirrors Costco’s philosophy, she reduced the num-
ber of items they sold to focus on core products.
After doing her homework, she decided a part-
nership with Costco would be a natural fit. “Costco
stood for all the things I’ve worked my whole life
for,” she says, addressing the creation of the Kirkland
Signature™ by Borghese line of cosmetics. (For more
information, see “Buying Smart” on page 28.)
Address: 10 E. 34th St., Third
Floor, New York, NY 10016
During her marriage to ex-husband Robert
Mosbacher, former secretary of commerce in the
first Bush administration, she took Washington by
storm and found herself the subject of many newspaper and magazine articles. She retains her passion
for politics and hopes to one day serve her country,
although not in an elected office.
Phone: (212) 659-5329
Comments about Costco:
“There are things I’d do differently, but there’s
nothing I’m ashamed of,” says Mosbacher. “At the
end of the day you still only have your reputation.
And that’s true of everything in life.” C
“I was a Costco shopper long
before this partnership. I work
very hard for my money. I
want the best at the best
price. I want my bargain.”