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“Very soon people said, ‘Well, what can we buy?’” she said.

The skin of her nascent media brand began shedding. Infographics and merch were no longer enough for Ms. Shields, who had put a small team of executives together and mined the community for ideas. In June, a new company will emerge, called Commence. It will sell three hair-care products on its website.

In the modern beauty industry, there is precedent for pivoting from content to commerce: Glossier, valued at $1.8 billion in 2021, was born from the blog Into the Gloss. Its first skin-care products were developed using feedback from the website’s commenters.

But for anyone familiar with Ms. Shields’s career, Commence also makes one of those perfect and poignant stories.

Ever since she could crawl, Ms. Shields has been the face of household products: a model for Ivory soap at 11 months, Band-Aids at 5, Colgate toothpaste at 10, Calvin Klein jeans at 15, Coppertone sunscreen at 43, La-Z-Boy furniture at 45, and that is just a highlight reel. In the 1980s, her name was put on blow dryers and curling irons and hair crimpers. “By the way, I loathe the color purple, and all of the products were purple,” she said. “I didn’t know I had anything to say about it.”

Now, at 59, Ms. Shields is a chief executive overseeing how her products are made and how her name is used to sell them. It is capitalist empowerment.

“I’ve sold for other people my whole life,” Ms. Shields said.

I did not expect to find Teri Shields, famed stage mother, at her daughter’s house in the West Village of Manhattan. But there she was, blending into a marble-topped bar in the living room. Among liquor bottles and barware sat Teri’s urn. Ms. Shields lifted the lid to show me.



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