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It's 2021, and These 10 Female-Founded Beauty Brands Are Thriving

One of the best parts of my job (aside from testing out curly-hair products or getting makeup artists to share their secrets) is the opportunity to discover new beauty brands and the founders behind them. There’s something magical about unearthing what seems like a hidden gem or spotlighting a new business, and in 2021, it’s clear that championing female-founded businesses is more important than ever. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted women, with estimates that 47 million women will be pushed into extreme poverty, causing the wage gap to increase. 

Basically, our strides toward gender equality within the workspace are slipping (a recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed female-owned businesses struggling more than their male counterparts), which is all the more reason to rally behind female founders—not just for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, but always. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t fret.

Ahead, you’ll hear from 10 female founders of beauty brands about their mission, tips for aspiring entrepreneurs, and their hero products. Prepare to be seriously inspired.

Female-founded beauty brand, SIGMA Beauty Simone Xavier

Photo:

Courtesy of Sigma

WHO: Simone Xavier

WHAT: Founder and CCO of Sigma

Why did you found your business?

My husband and I founded Sigma because I wanted to bring solutions to the average makeup user, like myself. Makeup brushes were costly 12 years ago, and selecting makeup brushes as a beginner can be an overwhelming task. After extensive research, we put together our beginner brush set, and that is how Sigma was born!

What is one hero product you love from your brand?

We don’t just create brushes (we have an array of makeup essentials), but if you’re new to Sigma beauty, I recommend buying the F80 Flat Kabuki Brush first. This makeup brush changed foundation application when we introduced it to the market 11 years ago. Its soft and flat surface allows for a fast yet smooth application. 

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

Trust your instincts and needs. If you feel you have an idea of how something can work better or be improved, act on it. Chances are, there are millions of people out there who have the exact needs as you do, and you can be the one to bring a great solution to them.

Female-founded beauty brand, Soko Glam, Then I Met You, Charlotte Cho

Photo:

Courtesy of Charlotte Cho

WHO: Charlotte Cho

WHAT: Co-Founder of Soko Glam and Then I Met You

Why did you found your business? 

My husband and co-founder Dave and I founded Soko Glam in 2012. It was purely a passion project born out of my love for K-beauty. Our mission is to help all people achieve only good (skin) days ahead through our complimentary Skin Concierge service, education through The Klog, and our trusted, curated selection of skincare products.

What is one hero product you love from your brand?

I challenge you to find a more luscious, buttery oil cleansing balm than our Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm. This double-cleansing staple uses an innovative formula packed with vitamin E, sea buckthorn, and persimmon extract to gently melt away oil-based impurities and makeup while also nourishing the skin barrier. 

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

Do things differently. I would never have come this far if I tried to do what was already out there.

Female-founded beauty brand, The Beauty Chef, Carla Oates

Photo:

Courtesy of The Beauty Chef

WHO: Carla Oates

WHAT: Founder of The Beauty Chef 

Why did you found your business? 

The Beauty Chef stemmed from my skin- and gut-health issues. As a child, I suffered from eczema and allergies, and my mum took me to see a naturopath who dramatically changed what I ate, removing processed foods and allergens such as gluten and dairy from my diet. My allergies and eczema subsided, so I experienced firsthand the connection of food as medicine—that what we eat can affect our skin and health.

What is one hero product you love from your brand? 

This is always such a tricky question, as I love all of our products, but I use our Glow Inner Beauty Powder every day. It is incredible for your complexion; it’s so much more than just a skin supplement.  

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I genuinely believe that you should do what you love because success requires hard work, so you might as well spend the hard work doing something you wholeheartedly enjoy.

WHO: Shani Darden

WHAT: Esthetician and Founder of Shani Darden Skin Care

Why did you found your business? 

I didn’t always know that I wanted to start my own business. I couldn’t find what I wanted on the market, retinol that had all of the benefits of a prescription without the side effects, so I decided to create one. I launched Retinol Reform in 2013, and the business has continued to grow from there.

What is one hero product you love from your brand? 

Our Retinol Reform is the ultimate multitasker for glowing, youthful skin by boosting collagen, minimising fine lines and wrinkles, evening out the skin tone, and keeping skin blemish-free.

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Don’t worry about whether or not people are going to like you. Being uniquely yourself is your greatest asset.

Female-founded beauty brand, Nudestix, Taylor Frankel

Photo:

Courtesy of Nudestix

WHO: Taylor Frankel

WHAT: Co-Founder of Nudestix and Nudeskin 

Why did you found your business? 

My mum, sister, and I started Nudestix to solve a common problem. We felt there was a lack of brands in the beauty industry that celebrated and embraced multitasking, effortless, and "less is more" beauty.

What is one hero product you love from your brand? 

It’s so hard to choose, but I love our Tinted Cover Foundation. It is the perfect lightweight, skincare-infused, and natural-finish foundation that both evens skin tone and treats your skin. It is ideal for someone who loves a natural, minimalist finish. 

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

It is so important to have both an emotive and rational reason to exist. Also, it is so critical to have a clear point of differentiation. How is your product or service adding value to an incredibly saturated industry?

Female-founded beauty brand, Saalt

Photo:

Courtesy of Saalt

WHO: Cherie Hoeger

WHAT: CEO and Co-Founder of Saalt

Why did you found your business? 

The spark for Saalt came from a phone call I had with our aunt in Venezuela, who had gone without pads and tampons for years due to shortages of basic consumer staples caused by political instability. I immediately began researching what reusable options were out there and began working to create what I hoped would be the perfect menstrual cup that would be great for beginners and the mainstream consumer.

What is one hero product you love from your brand? 

In addition to our flagship product, the original Saalt Cup, we also offer a Saalt Soft Cup, which is made with an ultra-soft silicone formula that is designed to be both gentle and super comfortable for those with bladder sensitivity, cramping, or discomfort with firmer cups. This is the cup I use every month! 

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

My advice is to use your business as a force for good and embrace your influence to do good in the world. In an era where cheap and disposable products offer far more profit, I hope new, young entrepreneurs will instead choose better health for their customers and our planet. There is so much every business can do to maximise their social impact while simultaneously decreasing their environmental footprint.

Female-founded beauty brands

Photo:

Courtesy of Indeed Labs

WHO: Dimitra Davidson

WHAT: President and COO of Indeed Labs

Why did you found your business? 

At a young age, I knew that taking good care of your skin was critical in maintaining a healthy appearance. Yet, I could not find products that addressed my skincare concerns, products that worked, that were affordable, and with ingredients that I trusted. Indeed was born out of the needs that I had as a consumer.

What is one hero product you love from your brand? 

Right now, I am obsessing over our new lip products. For as long as I can remember, I have used lip gloss but found myself frustrated by how they dry out my lips. We decided to launch a fantastic lip product to hydrate and treat the various concerns on and around the lip area, leading to our Hydraluron+ Lip Treatment. It has been a huge hit. 

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

It is imperative that you know who your consumer is and listen to them. Do not lead in the industry with merely a product. Today’s consumers demand a lot from brands, and without the consumer in mind, it does not matter how great a product you have.

Female-founded beauty brand, Ciate London, Charlotte Knight

Photo:

Courtesy of Ciaté

WHO: Charlotte Knight

WHAT:  Founder and CEO of Ciaté

Why did you found your business? 

I founded my business to bring runway looks, products, and creativity to retail shelves. As a session artist, I continually analysed the white space and challenged myself on how I could disrupt it. 

What is one hero product you love from your brand? 

My current favourite Ciaté product is our new I Am Woman Palette, which is a 24-panel eye shadow palette that we’re launching for International Women’s Day. All the shades are named after incredible women throughout history who have inspired me and my team at Ciaté.

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

Surround yourself with seasoned mentors who can be your sounding board and go-to as you plan your adventure into this fantastic industry, and as my mother says, “Leap and the net will appear.”

Female-founded beauty brands

Photo:

Courtesy of Josie Maran

WHO: Josie Maran

WHAT: Founder and CEO of Josie Maran Cosmetics

Why did you found your business? 

Over 15 years ago, I worked as a model and actress and was constantly in the makeup chair. Over time, I noticed the products that were used were wrecking my skin, so I decided to make chronological beauty products, which are conscious, efficacious, and sustainable beauty rituals that empower people’s lives.

What is one hero product you love from your brand? 

I start my skincare ritual with our Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter. It’s this tub of pink love, which has all the fluffy, hydrating goodness and has naturally sourced beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) from pink algae lagoons. It provides those fantastic retinol benefits all over your body without the usual irritation.

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

If someone tells you something isn’t possible, prove them wrong. 

Female-founded beauty brand, Freck Beauty, Remi

Photo:

Courtesy of Freck Beauty

WHO: Remi

WHAT: Founder and CEO of Freck Beauty

Why did you found your business? 

Remi: I have forever admired and been obsessed with freckles—I wish there were a more exciting story, but to be honest, that’s it. I never thought I would wind up in this industry, but along the way, I realized that the world was missing a beauty brand with an attitude that didn’t play by any rules, and that’s how Freck Beauty came to be.

What is one hero product you love from your brand?   

Our Freck OG product is the hero of all heroes! With it, you can create the most natural (or wild and bold) faux-freckle look in literal seconds—it’s pure magic. 

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

Don’t be scared to make mistakes and forge your path. Freck Beauty came to life in the least “traditional” manner (via a Kickstarter that pretty publicly flopped), and I have made some screw-ups along the way. But I think our authentic approach is why the brand resonates so well with our community!

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