Iredale an asset, role model to the town

Jane Iredale is just something else again. She has done more for Great Barrington than anyone else around. While everyone is talking about jobs, she has become a one-woman anti-recession agency.

When people talk environment, she walks the walk and leads the way. Her love of animals puts shame on any who would abuse them. Her sense of taste and design is unparalleled. She and her partner, Bob Montgomery, have not only provided employment for so many of our friends and neighbors but they have done so in a thoughtful and aesthetically pleasing way. She is concerned about the environment, the animals, and the rest of her neighbors.

It took several years to convert the former Searles school into the international headquarters for Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, but upon its completion, it became an immediate monument to the school attended by so many of Great Barrington’s residents.

Now, they’re open for business and many of these same former students are part of the Iredale team. Jane has designed a line of cosmetics that has led the way, despite so many would-be competitors. She has made a real success of her business and we have a good deal of real estate and business in Great Barrington to prove it.

I can only say that her generosity with so many of our crucial nonprofits is off the charts. Her work with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center has been exemplary and she has rightfully been honored for it. She and Bob are like the Energizer Bunnies — they just keep on giving.

I’ve known Jane for a long, long time. She had more than one career before her present one. She was a well-known casting director in New York. Many of the actors who became “somebodys” later on appeared in the commercials she casted. She and a partner, Bill Perry, wrote successful musicals and television productions. She was an early proponent of public television and left an indelible print on the maturation of that product.

But it was her conviction that women were actually hurting themselves with the makeup they wore that convinced her to create products that would actually help. They contain the basic minerals that the skin needs. In doing so, she pioneered a new industry and many others have unashamedly imitated her products.

She has traveled the world and set up sales teams on just about every continent. She was a recipient of an award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and one who actually made that program look good by her phenomenal success.

When you get a chance to tour the new headquarters your mouth will fall open. Everything in the building, of course, is up to code. Employees have a beautiful place to prepare and eat their food. They have a comfortable place to relax outside. A spacious elevator has been installed outside the building making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The exterior of the building is breathtaking.

Jane is the kind of person who has always been there for the people upon whom she relied as she was developing her business. Her treatment of her former partner, Bill Perry, is exemplary but her respect and love for her own mother, now 101 years old is really something to behold.

Her mother wants to be part of the operation and every day she comes to work and helps assemble Iredale products. It’s a great lesson for any of us who want to be valued as we grow older. Jane and Bob live in a beautiful home, not in one of the rural communities but right in downtown Great Barrington where all of her work is done. Plus, Jane’s mother’s home is right there, too, and Jane and Bob can keep an eye out.

All I can say is that we are very lucky to have Jane Iredale looking out for us, too.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 12/20/14

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