Today is about women. No matter your age, race or physicality, today is a reminder that all women are valuable, important and capable of anything.
International Women’s Day, which has been celebrated in some capacity for over a century, was founded as a way to acknowledge the political, social and economic strides made by women. In honor of International Women’s Day 2019, we sat down with some of the most inspiring female founders and CEOs in the beauty industry today. We discussed their accomplishments, their favorite parts about what they do, and the advice they might give to young female entrepreneurs. These women use their intelligence, innovation and force of will to rise to the top.
When mainstream options were too harsh for her sensitive skin, May Lindstrom began studying natural, plant-based medicines and ingredients. She began in her own backyard, pulling mineral-rich clays straight out of the river, mixing in wild plants along with local honey, oils, salts and the like.
When she grew older, May focused on creating botanical medicinal blends with more specific purpose to alleviate burns, acne, rosacea, inflammation, as well as to soothe discomfort caused by cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. The result: powerful, nutrient-rich formulations that are not only highly effective, but a pleasure to use. In 2012, May Lindstrom Skin was born.
May: Be fearless. Operate from your heart, never disregard your intuition, and stay obsessively true to your values. Openness brings opportunity and human connection is everything. Go out there and touch the world.
After years of formulating products for a big beauty conglomerate, Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu decided to try something different. Unimpressed with the smoke and mirrors they continuously saw in the skincare world, they decided to create something more transparent and rooted in science.
Victoria and Gloria transformed an online community on Instagram into a skincare brand, focusing on making skincare approachable and the science behind each ingredient decipherable. They continue to utilize only tried-and-tested ingredients backed by science and peer-review studies in order to give their customers the most effective product possible.
Victoria: One of my favorite parts of being your own boss is being able to choose who you get to work with. The way I see it is that your company is only as healthy as your team—and that extends to our vendors and partnership stores. Getting to work with those within the industry that appreciate our vision for skincare has definitely been a huge motivator for us. Ultimately it feels like we’ve built a little family and the work has been a lot of fun.
Gloria: I’m definitely thrilled with all that Chemist Confessions has accomplished in the past year and change. But I think for me, my greatest accomplishment lies in my personal growth. The Chemist Confessions project pushed me well out of my comfort zone, given all the different hats we each have to wear. I am definitely more of an introvert—but in the past year I’ve gotten very comfortable bouncing ideas with our vendors, recording podcasts, and talking to our followers in person at trade shows. This felt impossible to me just a year ago! Of course, believing in out brand’s mission helps a lot.
Fashion industry executive and certified holistic health coach Medea Juhasz created Herbalore to promote positive transformations on the cellular level. While in recovery from addiction issues, she had extreme sugar and fatty food cravings, liver damage, digestive problems, ulcers, allergies, and recurring sinus infections.
With the hopes of discovering a natural solution to her ailments, she began studying nutrition, herbalism and dietary theories, as well as experimenting with herbs, minerals and superfoods.
A few months later, something changed. Medea’s cravings were gone, her liver and digestion improved, her allergies disappeared, and she was losing weight. The combination of supplements, teas, and powders that had effectively solved the majority of Medea’s health issues became her breakthrough supplement, Catalyst Gold. The acclaimed, revolutionary supplement is engineered to nourish and detox the body with a powerful blend of super greens, superfruits, vitamins, and minerals.
Medea: I think in this day and age authenticity is one of the most important qualities of any successful entrepreneur. I strongly believe if you keep doing what you love, your tribe will find you. If you have an unique business idea and you feel really passionate and strongly about it, just go for it and don’t listen to the naysayers. What I’ve also learned as a creative female entrepreneur owning a business, is that it sometimes heavily relies on numbers and logistics. It is very helpful to master everything from A-Z about running your business, including the not-so-glamorous parts from customs regulations to shipping logistics or social media algorithms. Having a deeper knowledge of how to run your operation efficiently will come in handy when you’re ready to build a team.
At first, Geneva-based IT systems architect Sonia G. expressed her passion for makeup brushes through her blog, Sweet Makeup Temptations. But as her blog became more popular, Sonia was frequently asked for brush recommendations for specific purposes. She found that she could picture the perfect brushes in her mind, but that they were impossible to find.
Inspired and empowered to “fill in the blanks,” Sonia launched her own line of exquisitely crafted makeup brushes made by Japanese artisans and engineered for ultimate precision and performance.
Sonia: My favorite part is the freedom to make decisions, also with regards to who I work with. I want to be surrounded by like-minded people who share the same values and the same passion, who are willing to work hard and exceed expectations.
I also love to be able to react quickly, no need to ask permission or approval. This is a major factor when you see an opportunity or you face a challenge. There is nothing more exciting than to think outside the box. You can be as creative and innovative as you want to be. The best part: it never feels like work because this is exactly what I love to do!
Danish-born, New York City-based Kirsten Kjaer Weis began her career as a makeup artist, working for renowned fashion magazines like Elle , Vogue , and Marie Claire. Realizing that people in the industry were sacrificing the health of their skin to irritating, synthetic cosmetics, Kirsten decided to start her own brand. She launched Kjaer Weis, an organic, luxury beauty brand focused on high performance products made with natural ingredients.
In addition to using non-irritating and natural but high-performing ingredients, Kjaer Weis works towards sustainability with completely reusable, refillable packaging.
Kirsten: I think it’s fun and inspiring to be on the leading edge of an industry that is really changing into becoming more conscious about ingredients. I love to make women feel beautiful. I’ve been a makeup artist for over twenty years and there’s nothing like having a woman jump out of your chair feeling good about herself.
Inspired by years of working for her family’s wine business, and uninspired by the natural beauty products available to her, April Gargiulo decided to create the multi-correctional, holy grail skincare product she’d been searching for.
Her now cult-favorite Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, a facial oil, is often touted as a miracle product. Featuring whole botanicals and balancing agents, the serum adheres to the same impressively high standards of April’s family wine business: impeccable quality, systematic formulation, and region-specific sourcing of ingredients.
April: Easily my favorite part of being a Founder/CEO in the beauty world is the opportunities I have had to meet so many incredibly passionate people. From other founders to customers to press to influencers and our retail partners, there are the most talented, kind and creative people in this world. It feels like a really special time in the industry and I am grateful to be a part of it.
With the intention of sharing her family’s legendary oil blends with a wider audience, Shrankhla Holecek launched UMA, a brand focused on the creation of potent botanical elixirs for every type of skin. Shrankhla created the sustainable, 100% organically farmed and synthetic-additive free UMA oils to enhance outer radiance, restore inner balance, and promote a general sense of well being.
In addition to proudly employing a workforce of over 50% local women, Shrankhla is also among the first business owners in India—male or female—to demand equal pay for equal work.
Shrankhla: I’ve honestly been blown away by the incredible support and camaraderie so many successful women in this space are willing to extend to help you learn and grow. The privilege of working alongside/ learning from incredible visionaries, artists and businesswomen, while creating a brand that is bringing forth a vibrant ecosystem of careers, beautiful products and critical education has been an incredible honor & privilege. Importantly—it’s also heartening to be part of an industry and movement so committed to overarchingly feeling better along with looking better, and how it’s touching lives in such tremendously positive ways.
After being diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, organic farmer, and mother of two, Indie Lee was told she had as little as six months left to live. Her doctor asked her what she would later call a life-changing question: “What do you put on your skin?”
On Earth Day 2009, Indie survived the extremely risky tumor-removal surgery. She felt inspired and empowered to answer her doctor’s question and to help others live their healthiest life through clean, health-conscious skincare. Rigorously testing every product and ingredient for safety and effectiveness, Indie Lee is committed to a safe, holistic and more ethical approach to beauty.
Indie Lee: There have been so many meaningful and inspirational moments since starting the brand. Of course, I’m incredibly proud to see the brand in the most coveted retailers (both online and brick & mortar). I still get emotional when I walk into a store and see Indie Lee on a shelf or see the brand featured in a retailer’s email blast. This has been and continues to be such an amazing, personal journey.
Building and growing the community we have is one of the biggest inspirations of this brand. When I hear that my journey has touched someone’s life and prompted a change, I’m so honored. Indie Lee is all about people on the same transformative mission. It’s incredible to receive heartfelt notes and DMs on social channels from all over the world. Knowing we are educating and empowering others to live their healthiest life is so rewarding, since that was my vision for the brand from day one.
While working as a product developer for various beauty brands, Carisa Janes was able to observe what was missing from modern cosmetics. Armed with the desire to create something “undetectably transformative and effortless to apply,” Carisa launched Hourglass in 2004.
Hourglass is among the first cosmetic brands to formulate makeup products with high quality, active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and cashmere kaolinite clay. In addition to cruelty-free and paraben-free production, Carisa is committed to making Hourglass products completely vegan by 2020.
Giving it purpose. We have always been a cruelty free luxury beauty brand, but we wanted to take that a step further. Animals are living beings who experience emotion and fear. We created the Eye to Eye campaign to signify our commitment to treating animals with respect. We decided to become fully vegan in 2020 without compromising any of our formulas or textures. And we support innovators in the animal rights community: we’ve partnered with the Nonhuman Rights Project, which litigates for fundamental rights for animals.
Anastasia Beverly Hills (Anastasia Soare)
beautyblender (Rea Ann Silva)
BeautySoClean (Nancy Crossley)
BECCA (Rebecca Morrice Williams)
Benefit Cosmetics (Jean and Jane Ford)
Benjabelle (Co-founded by Janabelle)
bkr (Kate Cutler and Tal Winter)
BY TERRY (Terry de Gunzburg)
Caudalie (Mathilde Cathiard-Thomas)
Chemist Confessions (Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu)
Cover|FX (Co-founded by Jenny Frankel)
Danessa Myricks Beauty (Danessa Myricks)
Herbalore (Medea Juhasz)
Hourglass (Carisa Janes)
ILIA (Sasha Plavsic)
IT Cosmetics (Jamie Kern Lima)
Jo Malone London (Jo Malone)
Jouer Cosmetics (Christina Zilber)
Kjaer Weis (Kirsten Kjaer Weis)
Lashes In A Box (Jayne Chen)
Lit Cosmetics (Jodie Urchyshyn)
Lixirskin (Colette Haydon)
Lord Jones (Co-founded by Cindy Capobianco)
MAHALO Skin Care (Maryna Kracht)
Moon Juice (Amanda Chantal Bacon)
Nudestix (Jenny, Ally, and Taylor Frankel)
Omorovicza (Co-founded by Margaret de Heinrich)
Pai Skincare (Sarah Brown)
Paw Palette (Crystal Hamilton)
Pop & Suki (Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse)
Quintessence Paris (Valentine Pozzo di Borgo)
rms beauty (Rose-Marie Swift)
Skin Inc Skin Supplement Bar (Sabrina Tan)
Smith & Cult (Dineh Mohajer)
Sol de Janeiro (Heela Yang)
Stila (Jeanine Lobell)
Sugarpill Cosmetics (Amy Doan)
The Beauty Chef (Carla Oates)
The Sacred Ritual (Olivia Lohman)
UMA (Shrankhla Holecek)
Velour Lashes (Mabel Lee)
Vintner’s Daughter (April Gargiulo)
Viseart (Anastasia Vandusen-Sparrow)
Vueset (Brenda Green)
ZIIP (Melanie Simon)
Z•Palette (Zena Shteysel)