Lise Watier

Lise Watier, (born Montréal, 1942). A pampered only child, Lise Watier was always interested in feminine beauty and made it her life's work. During the 1980s she began her Québec radio and television career by hosting women's programmes. Through listening to the needs of her audience, she decided to launch her own business and began a journey that would lead her to the top echelons of business in beauty products.

Beginnings

In 1968, she founded her beauty company, the Lise Watier Institute. It was an innovative concept at the time, because in addition to lavishing beauty care on her clients, she taught them about various topics from make-up to self-empowerment. Faced with a lack of products that responded to her high standards, and inspired by the biography of her mentor Helena Rubinstein, Lise Watier set out to create and manufacture her own beauty products. She worked in tandem with a chemist who taught her the ABCs of cosmetology. Then married to a man from Mexico, she travelled frequently to this country and became interested in the aloe vera plant, widely used there and which had moisturizing and healing properties. She thenceforth introduced it into her high end products, products distributed worldwide through her new company: Lise Watier Cosmetics. As a tribute to her husband, she named her first perfume Andrade, after him.

Highs and Lows

In 1990, Lise Watier lost her factory to a devastating fire. Undeterred, she rebuilt a new one. Her products appeared in Paris, the world's cosmetics and perfume capital, to a more than favourable welcome. They were also available in Saudi Arabia, Spain, Japan, the United States, the Philippines and Russia. Next on the market was her new perfume, Neiges, dedicated to the women of Québec. "I wanted a product that was typically Québécois, one that resembles and distinguishes us because we are sensitive, tenacious and persevering" This perfume, a personal favourite of its creator and the business, would for years be a top seller in Québec and Canada. In 2007, Lise Watier sold her business to her Ontario partners, Imperial Capital Corporations, but with her husband and two daughters, she has remained involved in the company that now offers a range of more than 350 products.

Deeply concerned with helping women, she set up the Lise Watier Foundation whose mission is to help women and girls in need build better lives. In partnership with the Old Brewery Mission, the Foundation helped finance the creation of the Lise Watier Pavillion located in the underprivileged Montréal neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Its 29 social housing units welcome the homeless, and help them overcome their problems and dependencies and make a fresh start.

Honours

Lise Watier has won numerous awards and honours during her career. In 1984, the city of Montréal recognized her talent by naming her Great Montrealer of the Future in business, and following this, in 1986, she was awarded the highly coveted international Veuve Clicquot Award. The Toronto magazine Profit acknowledged her contribution to business by ranking Watier among the top ten Canadian entrepreneurs of the decade. Between 1993 and 1998, she was named Woman of the Year by Léger & Léger. In 2000, the Québec government appointed her an Officer to the NATIONAL ORDER OF QUÉBEC. Universities have also acknowledged Lise Watier's success: she won McGill University's Management Prize (2002), and the Université du Québec à Montréal awarded her an honorary doctorate degree (2010). In 2012, Lise Watier was named an Officer in the ORDER OF CANADA.