Marina Rupcic (née Mesic) grew up watching the soap opera The Young and the Restless with her grandmother. Marina’s favourite character, the glamourous Ashley Abbott, worked in the lab of her family’s company – Jabot Cosmetics – creating luxury perfumes and makeup. The show sparked a lasting fascination in the young girl from Thunder Bay.
Today, Marina is an R&D cosmetic chemist with famed makeup giant Estée Lauder and works in their M•A•C cosmetics division in Toronto. “Estée Lauder has always been my dream company – it’s not just a brand, it’s more of a feeling,” she says. “My mom used Estée Lauder and I spent a lot of time at that cosmetic counter.”
Marina’s family sometimes played an active role in her early chemistry experiments. “I loved to make potions – concoctions of salt and pepper. I would pretend that I was healing my uncle.” In high school, Marina became obsessed with creams and perfumes, mixing her mother’s mousses together and slathering them in her hair. “That’s probably why my hair was always knotted.”
High school chemistry courses cemented Marina’s attraction to this field and led her to study chemistry at Lakehead, giving her access to real laboratories for the first time.
A major turning point happened the day Marina asked her favourite professor, Dr. Christine Gottardo, if cosmetic chemistry actually existed. Professor Gottardo promptly gave Marina an overview of the R & D and quality assurance processes that go on at big cosmetics companies. She also steered the budding chemist towards what had seemed like an improbable career by helping Marina search for cosmetic chemistry graduate programs.
Marina successfully applied to ISIPCA (Institut supérieur international du parfum, de la cosmétique et de l’aromatique alimentaire) – a partnership between the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France and the University of Padova in Italy.
She headed off to France in 2014 to earn a European Fragrance and Cosmetic Master degree followed by a Master of Business and Management degree (specific to the perfumery and cosmetic industry) in Italy.
Marina was impressed not only by the excellence of her programs, but also by Europeans’ approach to life. “It was very cool – they have a different mentality,” she says. “When you eat, you sit down and respect that time. Even though it’s not rushed there, there is time for everything.”
Since completing an internship at Nature Soap and Spa in Winnipeg and graduating in December 2016, Marina has gotten married, moved to Toronto, and landed her dream job at Estée Lauder after months of diligent online searching.
Marina has been on the M•A•C lip products team for almost a year now and she’s still euphoric. “I love bringing something to life and watching the reactions of excited consumers to a product our team has created. MAC lipsticks are the #1 best sellers in Canada – there’s a reason for that.”