Vince Spinnato -No-holds-barred Memoir From Within the Beauty Industry
At age 10, Vince Spinnato watched TV soaps with his grandmother and became enamored with the characters on The Young and the Restless who owned a cosmetics firm. He vowed he would follow in their footsteps one day and even chose a name—VS Vincenzo—a brand one of his companies still bears. In his memoir, My Pursuit of Beauty: A Cosmetic Chemist Reveals The Glitz, The Glam and The Batsh*t Crazy, Spinnato shares the inner workings of the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry with entertaining tales about creating beauty products for megastars like Michael Jordan, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Gwen Stefani, Damone Roberts, and scores more. He also shares some of his life’s most bizarre situations. There was the time he survived a tornado in Iowa while being tethered to a bridge, and another when he became stuck inside a resort water slide that involved melted butter and rescue by the fire department. Then there was his terrifying flight post 9/11 that was nearly shot down by fighter pilots. Spinnato dealt with incessant bullying, body dysmorphia, trichotillomania* and multiple betrayals on the bumpy road from his grandmother’s couch in Vineland, New Jersey, to becoming a serial entrepreneur and expert in the beauty industry. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Beauty Comes from Within.
Please give us a short introduction to what Beauty Comes from Within is about.
From my earliest memories, I’ve been obsessed with my outward appearance – ears that protruded, a beak of a nose and a skinny body, combined with awkwardness that set me apart from the “jocks.” Then a traumatic family event triggered trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder so severe it left me with gaping bald spots on my scalp.
As an adult, I felt that outward beauty was essential for a happy life and I had so many plastic surgeries to correct my self-perceived flaws that literally endangered my health.
One of the main reasons I became a cosmetic chemist was to create products that made people—including me—look and feel beautiful. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized that although products may help, real beauty comes from within, not from outward appearances.
What inspired you to write this book?
My story has more highs and lows than a gigantic roller coaster, and I wanted to write a cautionary tale so other entrepreneurs wouldn’t make the same mistakes I did. I want them to be cautious about who they trust in both their personal and business lives. I accepted the lies lovers told me and gave them chance after chance to prove me right, but rarely did. The same in business. I trusted that my “honorable” bosses would do right by me and accepted a handshake in good faith instead of insisting on a signed contract. I was betrayed over and over. I also want to advise entrepreneurs never to give up on their dreams and stay the course until they reach their goals.
Was it hard to write about personal details of your life and sharing it with the world?
Yes! I spent decades on a psychiatrist’s couch until the day I stood up in the middle of a session and said, “I’m sick of hearing my own voice. I’m done!” My shrink had heard my weird life story and suggested I write book. I took him at his word and began dictating my story. When the book was finally complete, a weight was lifted. I felt for the first time that I could put everything behind me and focus on the future. Talking about my life also helped me remember the fun, crazy things too, like spilling a plate of linguini all over Lauren Bacall’s bespoke white suit and getting caught in a water slide that involved melted butter and the fire department.
You've been through some bizarre situations in your life. Does "truth is stranger than fiction" ring true for you?
Definitely! In fact, when I speak to groups, I always verify that all the weird stuff in the book really happened. I even share newspaper articles like those written following the infamous incident on my post 9/11 flight that was nearly shot down.
You grew up in New Jersey. How has that shaped your life?
When I was growing up, all the glitz and glamor I craved was not available in the casual beach community of Vineland. By the time I was in my teens, I realized that I would have to move elsewhere if I wanted any chance of achieving my dream to own a skin care company.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Even my “secret” skills are bizarre. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a way with animals and could train them to do about anything. Friends still call me “the dog whisperer” and joke that I could talk a bear out of attacking me.
Once I was playing with a group of boys when a rabid Cujo-type dog began chasing us. Instead of running, I sat down on the sidewalk and talked him into sitting down in front of me until help arrived.
Savannah, a 180-pound English mastiff, is the current love of my life and I’ve trained her so well she can almost set the table! I have four wordless commands that I give with my eyes or a tilt of my head. She understands me every time. She’s also a trained comfort dog and we visit wounded warriors every chance we get.
I also have a weird connection with dolphins. I live on the Pacific Ocean and nearly every time I go into the water, they seem to show up. Often, they’ve come close and allowed me to touch them.
Very few people who set their sights on Hollywood actually make it. How did you pull this off?
I’m still working on the “making it” part. One thing that has served me well is that I have no fear and will go anywhere and talk to anyone if I feel it will be beneficial for my business. I’ve had thousands of doors closed in my face, but I still persist because I seem to have the grit entrepreneurs need to be successful. Without that inner hutzpah to persist despite setback after setback, I would have never made it on my own.
You had a cunning way of getting an internship at famous salons. Did it ever not work?
I started talking my way into places when I was a high school senior applying to colleges. I got accepted at every single one except my dream school where I was rejected for the third and final time because my SAT scores weren’t high enough. Instead of crying in my beer, I got in my car and drove straight to the headmaster’s office, stormed past the receptionist and talked him in to letting me join the freshman class, albeit on probation.
Later, when I was heading to Hollywood from New Jersey to learn everything about the beauty industry I could, I stopped in Phoenix to call a Beverly Hills cosmetician who was famous for creating “kitchen cosmetics” out of ingredients found around the house. “My name is Vince Spinnato,” I told her. “I’m coming to work for free at the beauty salon.”
For the next 18 months she taught me how to develop products and to run a salon, in addition to the ins and outs of the industry. I quickly learned that when you offer to work for free, there are few business owners who’ll turn you down, even though they think you’re batsh*t crazy.
What is your personal favorite product line and why??
I’ve recently launched a new luxury line, Caviar and Diamond, under my VS Vincenzo brand made from—yes—those expensive little black sturgeon eggs and real diamond sirt (dust) from the DeBeers Group. Why caviar? Because it’s not just edible, it has an amazing effect on the skin and contains anti-aging properties that help diminish fine lines, wrinkles and feathering. It also contributes to renewing and regenerating energy to long-forgotten dead skin cells, so it not only treats and corrects age damage, it helps to slow future aging. Why diamond sirt? It also plays a key role in the aging process. Combine the two and you have products loaded with proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Why did you title this "My Pursuit of Beauty?"
It’s kind of a double entendre because I’ve not only created body and skincare products to help others look and feel beautiful, I’ve pursued beauty for myself for my entire life.
How did you manage to get the book done? Would you consider yourself a very disciplined person?
I’ve got dyslexia, ADHD and ADD, and there is no way I could have written the book without my ghostwriter, Mickey Goodman, who was introduced by my publisher, BookLogix. I dictated my story and she turned it into a book I’m very proud of. She lives in Georgia and I’m in California, but we made it work by hour-long phone sessions. Not even a Hollywood producer could have made a better match.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Because of my learning problems, there is no average “writing day” for me. With Mickey Goodman’s help, dictation, phone interviews and email I would never have been able to complete My Pursuit of Beauty... Just reading the completed text was difficult.
What are you working on right now?
Since the book launch on January 10, I’ve been focusing on my documentary, “Skin Deep: Formulating a Legacy” and my companies, TurnKey Beauty, Inc., VS Vincenzo Ltd., and Vincenzo Skincare LLC. Thankfully, after a tough 2020 due to the pandemic, things are beginning to open up in the beauty industry.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
On my website or via social media: