10/15/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT
Celebrities love putting in their two cents, so Hana Zalzal figured out a way to pocket the change. "I knew some of them were already using Cargo," says Zalzal, 37, president of Toronto-based Cargo Cosmetics. "I thought we should get them to design the lipsticks." The stars took to the idea like kids with Crayolas. Courteney Cox Arquette
sent in a fabric swatch from her sofa, which color specialists used to create the berry-hued Cece (her childhood nickname). Will & Grace star Debra Messing helped make Fez, a pink-brown shade. "I'm always on the lookout for an all-purpose caramely nude," the actress explains.
The Egyptian-born Zalzal, a former engineer for Bell Canada, formed her company seven years ago with a Toronto makeup artist. It has become a multimillion-dollar business. Cargo's tints sell for $13 (lip pencils) to $24 (bronzer) at outlets such as Sephora, with $2 of each sale of the $15 celeb lipsticks going to the Children's Miracle Network. "Whenever I open my kit, no matter who the model or celeb is, they always go right for the Cargo," says Pati Dubroff, a makeup artist who counts Renée Zellweger and Liv Tyler
among her clients.
Now Zalzal, who lives in a two-story Georgian home in Toronto with lawyer husband Michael Volpatti, 35, and sons Luke, 3, and John, 1, is focusing on attracting new stars to the drawing board. One idea: Tom Hanks. "It would be nice," she says, "to get a male perspective."