Location: Los Angeles, CA
Age: Over 50
Marital Status: Married
As the wife of uber-celebrity Dustin Hoffman, Lisa Hoffman spent her child-rearing years traveling the globe with him, loving her role as a full-time mother and wife. Dustin’s career allowed her to indulge her passions for culture and family. But once the kids were grown, she longed to indulge a new passion and start a fragrance and beauty line. This time, she’d have to make her own way. “Dustin’s very supportive and would help me in any way that I asked,” says Lisa. “But really, the beauty business is very much a woman’s world.”
That world has welcomed Lisa with open arms. Her line of exotic, globally-inspired fragrances was named “Best of Beauty” by Allure and a “Fragrance of the Year” finalist by the Fragrance Foundation.
Where did you grow up?
In L.A., in the San Fernando Valley
Tell us about your background.
Both my parents were raised in Los Angeles, which is unusual. I’m one of three children. My parents still live in the house where I grew up. My mother grew up in Los Angeles with Dustin, my husband. They are close in age. She is 80 and Dustin is 73. My maternal grandmother and Dustin’s mother were best friends and lived in the same house—one family upstairs, one family downstairs.
One grandfather started a plastics manufacturing company with his brothers, where my father worked, too.
Plastics? That’s pretty funny. (Anyone who has seen The Graduate knows what this means.) How did you meet your husband?
When Dustin’s mother was pregnant with him, she became friendly with my grandmother. My grandmother used to change Dustin’s diapers and babysit him. My grandfather took him fishing for the first time. Dustin couldn’t have grown up closer to my family. He studied to be a classical pianist and even played “Here Comes The Bride” at my parent’s wedding, when he was 16-years-old. He moved to New York when he was 21 to study acting. I was three. Whenever he’d come home for yearly visits, our families would get together. On one of those visits, when I was 10 and he was 27, he played the piano while I danced around the room in my leotards.
I actually told my grandmother that day “I hope he waits for me. I want to marry him when I grow up.”
My grandfather passed away when I was 22 and Dustin came home to pay his condolences. We went out alone to get pizza. It was then that we decided to get married.
When did you marry?
We got married when I was 24 and Dustin was 42. He was already famous. I graduated from Law School in 1980. I started dating Dustin just before starting law school but I knew that I probably wouldn’t practice because we both wanted to have a large family, and I also wanted to be with him when he traveled for work. That was really important for both of us. So I became a full time mother.
I gave birth to our oldest son three weeks before I took the bar exam, 30 years ago. He was critically ill when he was born and I became a focused mother. Then we had three more children. I also inherited two stepdaughters from Dustin’s first marriage.
Did you live in LA when you married?
We were mostly in New York, where Dustin’s daughters lived, so whenever his work didn’t take us elsewhere, we were there.
What did you do before launching your beauty brand in 2007?
Understanding the reality of the movie business, Dustin and I agreed from the beginning that we’d make every effort to keep our family together. So no matter where in the world he traveled to make a film, we went with him. We lived in Morocco, in France, in the UK. I called myself a corporate housewife because we took the tribe wherever we went and I set up schools, doctors and friends.
Why did you create a beauty company?
I’ve always been passionate about beauty rituals and unique fragrances evocative of different places. I started collecting essential oils and rare herbs and took notes about beauty secrets. I even minced some of my own beauty products in my kitchen. When our youngest daughter went off to college, I decided to make use of all that I had gathered over the last 25 years. I wanted to share what I had learned with women everywhere. I worked closely with top chemists and beauty industry professionals to translate my encyclopedia of secrets into products. My greatest pleasure is when my products give other women pleasure.
How has your company evolved?
I started with skin care, followed by body care and then perfume, which is my real passion. Although I loved working with fragrance houses, I knew the world didn’t need another perfume, so I stayed away from that area for a while. Then it occurred to me that no single fragrance works for a woman throughout the day. The scent she prefers in the evening is overwhelming to her nose in the morning, and the fragrance she likes during the day doesn’t seem as appealing before she goes to sleep. What if I could create four variations of the same scent, for morning, daytime, evening and bedtime?
Now we have five perfumes, each in four variations, so it’s like 20 different scents.
We also produce travel sets, packaged in exquisite leather pouches, with two variations of each scent, one for day and one for evening. They’re all oils that you place on your pulse points. Each represents an experience I’ve had in different parts of the world. The Agarwood reminds me of my spiritual experiences in Kyoto, Japan. Additionally, we created body cleanser and moisturizer in two of the scents.
The integrity of the product, the performance, is as important to me as how it smells. I’m particular about the raw materials we use. The Agarwood has bamboo, which has a rich history in Asia for beauty treatments. Madagascar Orchid has vanilla and orchid extract.
Do you speak other languages?
A little Spanish.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
My children inspire me all the time and always have. I learn so much from each of them. How they view the world helps me to grow and to stay young.
Are any of them actors?
The boys are. I tried for scientists, but I failed.
What are your other passions, besides beauty and travel?
I’m passionate about my family, including my extended family. I am serious about Scrabble. Dustin and I play on the iPad and pass it back and forth. And knitting.
It focuses me and, at the same time, I can relax and feel productive. I don’t allow myself to watch television really or chat on the phone, but if I’m knitting I’m happier watching a movie or on the phone because I’m producing at the same time.
What’s your birth sign?
I’m a Virgo. Very organized. Yesterday I cleaned out every bathroom in my New York apartment. I literally took a basket and gathered everything from every bathroom, sorted it out, cleaned it. I walked in last night feeling like everything was so much lighter in the apartment.
Do you use your husband’s celebrity to your advantage?
He’s emotionally supportive. We’ve taught our children that they needed to find their own paths. I couldn’t say, ‘Ok, you guys do it on your own but I’m using dad.’
How do you define your style?
It’s comfortable and classically modern.
I love The Row, Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta, and Prada.
Where do you get your hair done?
Christophe in Beverly Hills knows how to cut Jewish curly hair so that it can be worked straight or curly. I’m frightened to go to someone else cause it’s a trick to cut Jewish curls.
Where do you get your hair colored?
I often do it myself with Clairol, but if I’m in LA, I see Christophe.
All my husband’s movies.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York, LA, London or anywhere in the world?
I love La Esquina in downtown New York. It has delicious food and is a lot of fun. Also, the Greek restaurant, Milos Osteria, because it’s so clean and the fish is so fresh.