Businesswoman Feature: Pat McGrath

Who is Pat McGrath?

If you have followed the online beauty community within the past five years, you have likely heard of Pat McGrath. Take a look at her Instagram account - @patmcgrathreal - and you’ll find a dynamic, shimmering, and colorful assembly of makeup product demonstrations and photo shoot montages. Her bold style- high on the glitter factor- has carved an irreplaceable niche for McGrath in the beauty market, and her honed combination of business savvy and wild creativity shines through every new campaign and product launch.

While young hopefuls in the beauty world may consider McGrath something of an untouchable icon, her story illustrates the importance that working hard and making smart connections can have in anyone’s career journey. She was able to make a name for herself in an incredibly competitive field by sticking to her vision for her craft and expressing her love for what she does in every item she creates.

Early Life

Pat McGrath was born in Northampton, England on June 11, 1970. Raised primarily by her mother, McGrath credits her love for beauty and encouragement to experiment with fabrics, colors, and makeup for introducing her to her career. She claims that she “was always obsessed with make-up and creativity in all its forms” citing that they “fueled her irresistible urge to create.” Having never received a formal education in makeup or fashion, McGrath completed a foundational course in art at Northampton college before stepping into the field of makeup artistry.

Her career began in the 90s, when she was introduced to famous photographer Steven Meisel during a photoshoot. Since meeting Meisel, the two have worked together to produce covers and editorial stories for every following issue of Vogue Italia. She also connected with Edward Enninful, a previous Fashion Director for i-D Magazine, and scored a position as a long-time contributor to the publication.


McGrath’s first break into the beauty industry began with working as a makeup artist on photo shoot sets for Enninful at i-D. Although such a high-fashion job sounds glamorous, McGrath recalls some of the hardships that came from working in the background. “I can very clearly remember coming home one day and crying,” she says, “after a really disappointing day of test shoots.” She claims that she often felt like giving up, but keeping her head held high, she persevered until she was able to make her next move.

In 1999, the global luxury fashion brand, Giorgio Armani, hired McGrath to help them launch a cosmetics line. This partnership was a major win for McGrath, as it gave her a taste of what it was like to be the leader of a major creative project, and allowed her to experiment with makeup production and branding.