Brittany Gray’s Fancy Face: redefining beauty, one face at a time

Photo credit: Lindsey Drennan

Fancy Face is a cosmetics company that promises to meet you where you’re at. They do this literally — offering services in-store, on-site (weddings, anybody?), and in the comfort of your own home. 

You can buy Fancy Face products online while watching founder, Brittany Gray, show you how to use them on Cityline — makeup doesn’t get much more accessible than that.

However, Fancy Face also meets every woman where she’s at in life, personality, and cosmetic comfort level to truly deliver on their promise that “Fancy is a feeling.” This means listening to what you’re looking for, delivering on that goal, making sure you’re happy (and can replicate the results yourself), and even looking at what products you already own and helping you figure out how to use them (while filling in any gaps with lovely new Fancy Face products).

Triple threat turned makeup mogul

Brittany Gray-interview with founder of Fancy Face
Brittany Gray backstage on the set of the Tony Award-winning Mirvish musical The Producers

Just like her company, Brittany is equal parts impressive and relatable.

Her early passion and talent for performing — a triple threat, no less: acting, singing, and dancing — earned her roles in films including 2003’s best-picture-winning Chicago, as well as live theatre.

She had another passion bubbling along at the same time, though: makeup artistry. “Making women feel fantastic with the tools of cosmetics and makeup was always something that just made sense to me. I could look at someone’s face and know what they should do to look their best. It was something I loved ever since being a little girl.”

So, Brittany did both. “We’d have to be at the theatre for noon in time for the one o’clock matinee. I would wake up at four or five in the morning and do weddings in the morning before my show — after getting home at midnight.”

The makeup work was her side hustle, her gap-filler … until it wasn’t. “Every step was really organic. At the time, before the visibility offered by Instagram and TikTok, there weren’t very many makeup artists that I could look to and think, ‘Wow, they’ve really created something out of this.’ So, to think that I could make a living off of running my own company, I don’t think that even dawned on me.”

Challenges and milestones on the way to success

Brittany Gray-Fancy Face-women founders-women-founded businesses Canada
The Rosé Room, Fancy Face’s first storefront location

That’s exactly what happened, though. Brittany had children and put performing on hold, all while Fancy Face grew steadily and organically.

While Brittany experienced — and appreciates! — support from those closest to her, there were always doubters. “I did hear things like, how was a makeup artist going to really do anything? There were people that said that and thought it was a bit of a joke.”

Brittany set out to prove them wrong. “A big goal for me, for a very long time, was to get the business to a point where it had reached a million dollars in sales annually,” she says.

“Of course, once you hit it, you realize that milestone is actually an opportunity to reinvest in the company and strive for new goals. Still, that was something that, as an entrepreneur, I thought, ‘Can I do this? I’m a woman in the makeup business. Is this possible in Canada?’”

Balancing passion and profession

So, when you’ve hit your business goal, and you’re doing something you love and are good at, life’s great, right?

Brittany would be the first to say, “Yes … and …” with the “and” being about challenges she faces — because, no surprise, there are some!

  • When work is your passion … you might work a wee bit too much. “I struggle with being a workaholic. Watching both my parents taught me the value of working at something I love, and it also showed me there are times when that work is (nearly) all-consuming. I’m mindful of that and am always trying to mitigate, making sure to make time for friendships and that I’m present when I’m home. But I do work around the clock.”
  • Work is still work … even when it’s something you love. “Obviously there are things that are not ideal, like reading contracts — legal jargon is not the first and foremost thing that I want to read!”
  • Nobody can do everything. “I’m great at driving the ship forward, but when it comes to managing lots of different personality types and people, that is probably the thing that intimidates me the most. I’m a people person, but I’m also an introvert naturally. So I’ve learned that the next person in line to me needs to be great at managing people. I love being surrounded by people that have positive energy, but to micromanage those nuances is a struggle for me.”

Navigating fame and authenticity

Brittany has been successful in building a business based on her values — and it’s one other people love as well. “Our following is so great in the city of Toronto, where I live, that often if I go out someone will say, ‘Oh, you’re Fancy Face.’ They don’t even say my name. It’s funny. And it’s an honour.”

But it’s also a reminder to her that honouring women in all their moments is part of her business, and it’s one she has to embrace for herself, as well. “I’ve done my research on the big, foundational, iconic brands, and their secret was to always look fabulous and never go out without your full everything done. And I’m not like that. I want people to see that I don’t look the same as when I put my face on because that is what we offer women — we offer you those tools to help put your best face forward. But it’s okay not to, and you’re just as important when you’re just being a mom at your kid’s skating practice.”

Fancy Face — Brittany Gray
Brittany Gray with her mom Denise Gray and Fancy Face COO Hannah Jasper 

Empowerment through beauty

Still, Brittany doesn’t minimize the importance of being able to put on your “full everything.” She says, “The difference between a really put together woman and a woman that’s not, is just that the first woman has the tools. She knows what she’s doing.”

She says looking great can make you feel great, and that’s also why she doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the “beauty is from the inside out” mantra. “I struggle with that because there are some people that are going through a really hard time, and the last thing they feel is beautiful inside. So what I coach people to do is when you’re in those down-and-out moments, do things on the outside to work inwards. Help yourself feel good because yes, you can do the inner work, but sometimes people feel like they have nothing to work with inside. So, utilize those tools outside to help you start feeling good.”

Beauty the Fancy Face way

Brittany knows women have a world of beauty choices, which is something she often sees as a problem. “I see a gap in the market when it comes to women being confused. They walk into these big department stores with so many options, so many brands, so many things trending on TikTok.”

Rather than offering the most options, Brittany wants to offer women the best options. “What we like to do is scale it back to a thoughtfully curated selection of products and give you expert advice from a woman that feels like your best friend who you can trust.”

“We don’t have 17 options of serums and 25 options of eyeshadow. There are two palettes. There’s one serum, and it works for everyone. When you walk into one of our locations, you feel that sense of being able to take a deep breath and not be overwhelmed in a clean and calm setting.”

The future of Fancy Face

With her early goals attained, and having assembled a strong and growing Fancy Face team, Brittany is thinking about what might be next. A focus on inner and outer well-being — including time spent at Toronto’s SAOR Pilates — has led her to contemplate her on-hold passion for performing. “I have that sort of inkling again, that intuition that I followed my whole life to get me to this point, saying ‘get back into it.’ If I can bring more attention to my brand through acting, that would be the dream scenario for me. To continue to build my business and leverage my childhood love, my passion of performing — I think that could lead to great things.”