Posted February 22nd, 2016 by Jamie Hunter

Hana Zalzal: Professional makeup maven

  • Hana Zalzal (CivE 8T8) is the founder of Cargo Cosmetics, a Toronto-based professional makeup line used by the industry’s top artists for TV and film.

This article is part three of a five-part series on #EngineeringtheUnexpected, in celebration of the first Global Day of the Engineer on February 24, 2016

What do Hollywood stars Courtney Cox, Camryn Manheim, Lindsay Lohan and Debra Messing have in common? They have all designed custom lipstick shades for Cargo Cosmetics, a professional makeup line founded by alumna Hana Zalzal (CivE 8T8).

Zalzal worked as an engineer, marketer and financial analyst prior to founding and operating Cargo Cosmetics in 1995 from her home in North York, Ont. Over the past 20 years, Cargo has grown to become one of the most innovative and sought-after brands among professional makeup artists, celebrities and consumers worldwide.

Today, Cargo is a household name — its products have been featured in Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and a multitude of fashion and beauty publications. Current hit television shows American Horror Story, Girls, The Mindy Project and Modern Family, and films such as Insidious, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man 2 have all used Cargo Cosmetics on set. They have also been included in official gift bags for prestigious events such as the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes.

True to its engineering roots, Cargo has even made an impact on the international design community: the company’s foundation pouch won a 2006 DuPont Award for Innovation in Packaging and a 2007 Red Dot Award for Product Design.

Zalzal attributes the key to Cargo’s success as never being satisfied with the status quo.

“For me, it was all about continually asking myself, ‘How can this be better?’” she said. “It was about the innovation, and the innovation that drove [Cargo] to continually seek new ways of presenting product. Sometimes it was in application, sometimes it was in formulation and sometimes it was in packaging.”

Zalzal was included on The Caldwell Partners list of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 in 2004 and received an Arbor Award for her outstanding personal service to the University of Toronto.

Watch this video from Bloomberg TV’s show Venture to learn more about Zalzal and her company.