There are all different types of beauty brands: mega conglomerates, teeny tiny independents, the many, MANY (too many?) celebrity-owned companies. But the ones that stand out to us are the brands that set out to make a difference alongside making a profit.
This Women's History Month, we're highlighting the women that make us feel proud, fired up, and just plain warm and fuzzy inside, and these female founders are firmly part of the crew. From those with sustainability at the core of everything they do, to those supporting women less fortunate than them, here are just a small selection of female beauty brand founders showing us how it's done...
Sharon Chuter - UOMA Beauty
Nigerian born, London based Chuter created UOMA Beauty to offer totally inclusive, diverse beauty, drawing inspiration from her heritage and experiences. Alongside that she was the brains and brawn behind the ‘Pull Up For Change’ campaign during the 2021 Black Lives Matter movement, demanding beauty companies to reveal how diverse their senior teams are. Not only did this start important, overdue conversations, but it also led to many companies promising and implementing immediate change.
Sylvie Chantecaille - Chantecaille
For over 20 years, this family-founded, female-run beauty brand has had philanthropy at the centre of its values. Each season, a new collection is dedicated to an endangered or ecologically important animal, with proceeds going to help local causes that support them, such as the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, that safeguards Kenyan elephants, or WildAid that aims to stop illegal wildlife trade. Sylvie personally travels to get eyes on the aid in action: from trekking to meet gorillas in the Congo to getting up close and personal with whale sharks in Mexico.
Antonia Philp - Nursem
Philp created her original hand cream formula (with her husband Jonny) as a personal need: long shifts as a paediatric intensive care nurse left her hands cracked, sore, even bleeding. But they weren't content with just creating an amazing, necessary product (effective, natural, suitable for use in medical settings), so went a (big) step further, pledging that with every product purchased, Nursem gives a month's worth of hand cream to a nurse or midwife. By the end of 2020, just 2 years after launching, they'd fulfilled that promise to more than 100,000 individuals.
Anya Ayers - Rahua
Whilst working in the eco arena, specifically in rainforest protection and preservation, Ayers formed relationships with the indigenous women living in the Amazon, the Quecha-Shuar tribes. They introduced her to rahua oil: a rare, restorative ingredient that was key to their healthy hair, and the idea of Rahua Beauty was born. Drawing on the wisdom of the women living there, the brand works with them to harvest the ingredients, and also work as a 'beyond carbon negative' company that generates oxygen surplus. 'What we bring for the women and the over 500 families we are working with is financial support that encourages the continued practice of ancient traditions and lifestyle in which propels their communities' says Ayers.
With everyone Rahua bottle purchased, one acre of rainforest is preserved: that's 100,000 acres and counting in the ten years the brand has been going...
It's perhaps surprising to spot this superstar name here, but behind the glitz and glam of the mega-brand that is Charlotte Tilbury, there's some impressive charity work happening too. A long-time ambassador for Women for Women International, a charity that helps female survivors of war rebuild their lives, in 2019 Tilbury pledged £1million to fund their projects, and continues to support via ongoing initiatives and collaborations.
Nikita Mehta - Fable & Mane
Alongside her brother Akash, Mehta founded plant-powered haircare brand Fable & Mane with a mission to introduce the world to ancient wisdom and rituals deep rooted in Indian hair care heritage. Combining the concept of Ayurveda alongside beautiful, hair-boosting formulas, the whole range is vegan, cruelty-free and sustainable. 'My brother Akash and I have respectfully returned to our roots in India using sustainable plant roots and adaptogens to grow healthy hair, naturally, as nature intended,' says Mehta. 'On a supply chain side, we monitor our footprint by sourcing local packaging, producing formulas that will not damage our environment or contain any animal ingredients and currently investing with suppliers to use recycled or bio based plastic sources.'
Not only that, but it's changed many a beauty editor's mind on putting oil anywhere near their scalp (spoiler alert: do it!).
Anna Brightman - UpCircle Beauty
Another sister/brother dream team, Anna and Will came up with the UpCircle concept when throwing coffee grounds away. Yes, really. The idea of that waste - from them, from other homes, from the thousands of cafes around the country - make them consider what could be done instead. The first product was a coffee-ground body scrub (naturally) and they now follow the same idea with chai spices, fruit stones and more to create body and skincare (such as a face mask made with olive powder).
Trishna Daswaney - Kohl Kreatives
On a mission to enable each, every and any person to feel empowered by make-up and beauty, Daswaney trained as a make-up artist before creating her inclusive brand specialising in make-up and beauty tools specifically designed to make it easier for those suffering from motor disabilities or dexterity issues, the transgender communities, or those going through cancer treatments. Far from becoming a 'niche' product, the brushes have gained praise for their design and artistry.
Michelle Feeney - Floral Street
The fragrance industry isn't famous for being the most earth-friendly, but for Floral Street, sustainability is at the very heart of its brand concept. Founded my Michelle Feeney, former big brand big-wig (St Tropez and MAC, amongst others) her mission was to create a luxury perfume and beauty brand that's low on packaging, slow on production (in a good way: they produce limited quantities to limit waste) and uses sustainably sourced ingredients. Naturally, all products are cruelty free and vegan too.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
In need of more inspiration, thoughtful journalism and at-home beauty tips? Subscribe to ELLE's print magazine today! SUBSCRIBE HERE
You Might Also Like