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Beauty’s Emerging Brand Founders

These emerging beauty founders are changing the landscape.

The beauty industry seems to have new entrepreneurs every day. This International Women’s Day, discover these emerging, female founders and their beauty brands, selected by the beauty editorial team at WWD:

Mathilde Lacombe, cofounder, Aime

Mathilde Lacombe introduced her Aime holistic line of probiotic-based skin care and supplements with cofounder François Morrier in 2018, after seeking products to help her own skin issues, such as rosacea. The Aime line now including collagen supplements, a supplement tincture for nighttime rest, a moisturizing cream and roll-on perfume oil.

Mathilde Lacombe
Mathilde Lacombe Courtesy of Aime

Siffat Haider, cofounder and CEO, Arrae

Siffat Haider is a blogger, podcaster and cofounder of supplement brand Arrae, which she launched with her husband in 2019. The brand has two supplements, Bloat and Calm, which aim to aid in digestion and lower cortisol, respectively. Arrae aims to simplify the supplement space, and was born after Haider found herself carrying around bulky pill bottles pre-pandemic.

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Siffat Haider, Arrae
Siffat Haider, cofounder of Arrae courtesy of Arrae

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Shontay Lundy, founder, Black Girl Sunscreen

Black Girl Sunscreen is an inclusive line of vegan sunscreen for adults and children that uses natural ingredients like avocado, jojoba, cacao, carrot juice and sunflower oil. While protecting the skin and adding moisture, Shontay Lundy has created a hero product that doesn’t leave a white residue. Sold at Target, the company received attention after securing a $1 million investment last year.

Shontay Lundy
Shontay Lundy Courtesy

Chiara Cascella, founder, Espressoh

During the peak of beauty brands promoting professional techniques and products in Italy, Chiara Cascella went in the opposite direction and launched her essential, easy-to-use makeup range in 2018. She called the niche label Espressoh, a pun on coffee that is a key ingredient in its cruelty-free formulations. Boosted by fun, Instagram-driven communication, the line gradually expanded to include products such as lipsticks, a concealer and a mascara.

Trinity Mouzon Wofford, cofounder and CEO, Golde

Trinity Mouzon Wofford has been bringing the matcha craze to consumer homes with Golde, a health and beauty brand that, along with matcha, sells different blends of superfoods (like its “Original Tumeric Latte Blend”). Founded in 2016, Wofford works to make wellness more accessible and affordable using natural and vegan ingredients.

Trinity Mouzon Wofford
Trinity Mouzon Wofford of Golde Photo courtesy of Golde

Erika Boldrin, founder, Honieh

Italian fashion influencer Erika Boldrin founded the natural and vegan skin care brand Honieh in 2019, after having converted to a vegan and healthy lifestyle for years herself. The concise assortment includes a cleansing mousse, face creams and masks, as well as serums, with formulations certified by the AIAB association that guarantees the ingredients come from natural sources, are environmentally friendly and that the use of chemical product processes is limited.

Desiree Verdejo, CEO and founder, Hyper Skin

Desiree Verdejo suffered from hormonal acne and as a result, hyperpigmentation. She wasn’t able to find anything on the market that felt both inclusive and made to target the particular issue, so she created Hyper Skin. Treating hyperpigmentation and discoloration for all skin types, the brand currently sells a vitamin C serum and has several products in the pipeline.

Sasha Plavsic, founder, Ilia Beauty

Sasha Plavsic, who started Ilia Beauty in 2011, is a leader in the clean color cosmetics space. She’s been creating products, found at Sephora and Credo, made with safe formulas to help protect and nourish the skin, while offering a natural makeup look. During the pandemic, Plavsic has focused her attention on the “silver-haired foxette,” the brand’s 40 to 65-year-old consumer who’s been embracing clean, minimal beauty.

Sasha Plavsic of Ilia Beauty
Sasha Plavsic of Ilia Beauty Courtesy/Ed Pulella Photography

Lesley Thornton, founder, Klur

With a holistic approach to beauty, esthetician Lesley Thornton uses natural, plant-based and thoughtfully sourced ingredients, vitamins and data-driven results to create her skin-care products at Klur. Launched in 2019, the brand is focused on research and development, while offering a minimalistic approach to a beauty regimen. Products include a cleanser, oils, a mask and rich serums to target specific skin needs.

Lesley Thornton
Lesley Thornton Courtesy

Sheena Yaitanes, founder, Kosas 

Kosas began on Sheena Yaitanes’ kitchen table and is now carried at Sephora, Goop and Revolve Beauty. Launched in 2015, the brand arguably represents the future of color cosmetics: a hybrid of color and skin care. The company infuses its richly pigmented products for face, lips and eyes with ingredients that have skin-care benefits like hydration.

Sheena Yaitanes
Sheena Yaitanes, founder of Kosas. Courtesy of Olivia Katz/Kosas

Juliette Couturier and Judith Levy, cofounders, Même Cosmetics

Même Cosmetics’ Juliette Couturier and Judith Levy  launched a dermocosmetics line in late 2016 formulated specifically for women with sensitive skin due to cancer treatments. Since then Même, which is sold in more than 3,500 French pharmacies and retailers such as Oh My Cream!, as well as the brand’s own site, has expanded its offer to include makeup.

Juliette Couturier and Judith Levy
Juliette Couturier and Judith Levy Courtesy of Même Cosmetics

KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson, founders, Mented Cosmetics

KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson founded Mented Cosmetics, a makeup line that creates products that work on all skin tones. The brand’s lip, eye and complexion makeup is meant to help customer achieve everyday beauty looks, which has helped the business to succeed even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mented launched as a d-to-c brand, and has since expanded to Target and Ulta Beauty.

Mented founders KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson. courtesy of Mented




















Monique Rodriguez, founder, Mielle

Launched in 2014, Monique Rodriguez used her years of experience as a registered nurse to start a brand that takes into account health in beauty. Using natural ingredients (which are listed on the company site) such as babassu oil, mongongo oil and honey, the brand offers skin care and hair care products that are reasonably priced, available at retailers that include Target, CVS and Walmart. Megan Thee Stallion was recently named its first global ambassador.

Justine Hutteau, cofounder, Respire

Justine Hutteau cofounded Respire, a French vegan and eco-friendly beauty brand, with Thomas Meheut in 2019. Its first product was a natural deodorant, 21,000 units of which were pre-sold in one month. Today, Respire’s range includes more than 15 items, including rechargeable deodorants, solid shampoo and superfatted soap. Recent launches include toothpaste and shower gel.

Justine Hutteau
Justine Hutteau Courtesy of Respire

Jules Miller, founder, The Nue Co.

Enlisting the help of her grandfather, a chemist and Cambridge University professor, Jules Miller has disrupted the ingestible supplement industry by providing transparency and quality using science-backed and natural ingredients to create products that are free of harmful chemicals. Targeting gut health, skin, energy, immunity, sleep, focus and stress, the company uses materials — and chic packaging — that are 95 percent recyclable.

Karissa Bodnar, founder, Thrive Causemetics
Thrive Causemetics is best known for its clean mascara. Launched in 2015, the company sells makeup and skin care that is high-performing yet vegan and cruelty-free. Beyond the formulations, founder and makeup artist Karissa Bodnar is also focused on the mission of empowering women. For each product sold, the brand makes a product or monetary donation a woman in need.

Karissa Bodnar
Karissa Bodnar Courtesy

Tina Craig, founder, U Beauty

Entrepreneur Tina Craig has created a buzzed about, sustainability-minded and clean luxury skin-care line that’s made in Italy. Her hero product, the Resurfacing Compound, is a single-step treatment with retinol, vitamin C, antioxidants and exfoliation to simplify beauty routines.

Nikki Eslami, founder, Wild Elements

Nikki Eslami is no stranger to the beauty world — she founded hair extensions brand Bellami, invested in Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty and is the CEO of New Theory Ventures, which has backed Playa hair care and other brands. For her latest project, Wild Elements, Eslami is launching a beauty and wellness brand accompanied by a sustainability-minded foundation and production studio.

Nikki Eslami Wild Elements
Nikki Eslami, Wild Elements Elizabeth Shrier

Kendra Kolb Butler, founder, Alpyn Beauty

After 20 years in sales, marketing and public relations in New York, Kendra Kolb Butler headed to Wyoming. Inspired by the natural landscapes, she created Alpyn Beauty, a wildcrafted skin care brand with hot ingredients like bakuchiol and melatonin. She is among the first to sustainably harvest the region’s ingredients for skin care.

Kendra Kolb Butler
Kendra Kolb Butler Photo courtesy of Alpyn Beauty

Hope Smith, founder and chief executive officer, Mutha

Hope Smith, former model and current entrepreneur, crafted her brand’s debut Body Butter from her kitchen in an effort to mitigate stretch marks from her pregnancy. Fast forward from her brand’s 2019 launch, Mutha has caught the eye of retailers from Violet Grey to Bergdorf Goodman, and her full assortment has the same trademark high percentages of active ingredients. A true triple threat, Smith is also an aesthetician and philanthropist – five percent of sales on her brand’s website go to the International Medical Corps to help women internationally deliver children safely.

Hope Smith
Hope Smith Photo courtesy of Mutha

Allison McNamara, founder, Mara Beauty

Allison McNamara traded her life as a TV host to create algae-based skin care brand Mara Beauty, which distributes her oil-based hero product (among others) at Cult Beauty, Credo Beauty and Bluemercury. The influencer named her brand with the last four letters of her last name – a tribute to her Gaelic heritage. Her proprietary algae compound is sourced from Northern Ireland and Brittany, France.