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Women Indie Beauty Founders Talk Buzzy Hero Products

Indie beauty founders share the a-ha moment that led to the formulation of their hero product.

Every brand has a backstory.

Founders are often entrepreneurs, taking an idea and turning it into a business. They see a gap in the market, a need that has yet to be filled and take action. Many times it begins with just one product.

Here, in honor of Women’s History Month, Beauty Inc asks up-and-coming entrepreneurs: What was the a-ha moment that led you to develop your hero product?

Allison McNamara, founder of Mara 

Allison McNamara
Allison McNamara Courtesy

“I was a huge fan of the concept of face oils, but hadn’t found one that delivered the results I was looking for. I prefer a medium to heavyweight oil that sinks into the skin quickly, delivers an amazing glow without feeling greasy, and was filled with actives to target key skin care concerns like aging, hydration and texture. We started out crafting our proprietary, wild collected algae blend and then built out the key superfoods moringa, baobab and kalahari melon that provided all vitamins, trace minerals and phytonutrients. It’s an all-in-one miracle oil that is truly universal — it works on all skin types and tones and can even be used on dry hair and cuticles.”

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Mara’s Universal Face Oil Courtesy


Dr. Courtney Rubin, cofounder and chief medical officer of Fig. 1

Dr. Courtney Rubin
Dr. Courtney Rubin Courtesy/Caitlin Mitchell

“The inspiration for our Retinol Step-up System came from an ‘a-ha moment’ that I had while seeing patients in clinic. I frequently recommend topical retinols because they are so multifunctional. They even skin tone, help with acne, reduce excess oiliness and build collagen to smooth fine lines. However, so many patients were not able to tolerate retinol due to side effects like irritation and flaking. I set out to create a system that would allow more people to use retinol without side effects, and our Retinol Step-up System was born! Our Step-up System allows you to start with a low, .15 percent “introductory” dose of retinol to help your skin acclimate, then enables you to “step up” to a higher concentration of retinol (.3 percent or, eventually, .6 percent) after your skin has happily adjusted. This introductory process allows most users to experience a really effective concentration of retinol, while avoiding pesky side effects.”

Fig. 1
Fig. 1’s Retinol Night Cream No. 1 Courtesy

Ericka Rodriguez, founder of Axiology 

Ericka Rodriguez
Ericka Rodriguez with Axiology’s Lip-to-Lid Balmies Courtesy

“I started making my own lipsticks in 2013 after discovering that the makeup I was using was tested on animals and used animal-derived ingredients. As a lifelong animal lover/activist I was horrified! I initially looked for a good vegan and cruelty-free lipstick but they were all super drying. I thought it would be fun to start formulating vegan lipstick in my tiny kitchen and things snowballed from there.”


Giovanna Campagna, founder of Joaquina Botánica

Giovanna Campagna
Giovanna Campagna Courtesy

“The a-ha moment behind our Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil was when I realized the lack of skin care brands speaking to Latin America’s incredibly vast natural ingredients and deep-rooted beauty philosophies. I set out to research powerful botanicals that are prized in the regions’ beauty, wellness, and cultural practices. Superfruits like Cacay, Sacha Inchi, Maracuya, etc. are primarily the most pure and potent in oil form; so our face oil is ultimately the most highly concentrated delivery of these amazing ingredients, enhanced with youth-preserving benefits from Orchid and Bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative. Plus, I knew I wanted our hero product to recreate the feeling my skin has when I am somewhere tropical, like Colombia. The second you step off the plane in those climates, your skin feels instantly cushioned by the humidity. You get this innate glow from eating fresh foods, taking just the right amount of sun, and your skin looks so dewy that you don’t even want to wear much makeup. That’s the effect that I wanted our products to recreate — hence, the ‘glow’ in Glow Oil.”

Joaquina Botanica
Joaquina Botánica’s Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil Courtesy


Gloria Noto, founder of Noto Botanics

Gloria Noto
Gloria Noto Courtesy

“The a-ha moment I had was when I realized that the last thing in my process of cleaning up my life (my diet, herbalism, more mindfulness etc.) was my skin care. I had terrible skin and couldn’t quite figure out why none of the active products, or hard ingredients weren’t working. That’s when I started mixing up my own dream blend that then became the Deep Serum. So many others have related to this product and is a staple in many routines.”

Noto Botanics
Noto Botanics’ Deep Serum Courtesy


Shari Siadat, founder of TooD

Shari Siadat
Shari Siadat Courtesy

“My a-ha moment surrounded the creation of TooD’s Freestyle Color Cream. Prior to launching TooD Beauty, I was a children’s book author writing a story about a little girl with a unibrow. Knowing how badly the industry needed to hear stories and see faces that have never been seen in traditional media, I suggested to my book agent that we include a complementary product with the book: a way to give children colors and crystals to paint the parts of themselves that they find most powerful. What if the unibrow was a superhero mask instead of a shame story? For me painting my brows allowed me to reclaim myself, replacing shame with acceptance and joy.”

TooD’s Freestyle Color Cream Courtesy


Stephanie Morimoto, owner and chief executive officer of Asutra

Stephanie Morimoto
Stephanie Morimoto Courtesy

Our a-ha moment came straight from our customers. We heard that people want to take care of themselves on purpose so they could take on anything without popping a pill. We took that insight and began to develop a natural, pain-relieving product that could fit into a daily routine, restore overall well-being, soothe aches and pains, relieve tension, and set you up for a great night sleep to take on the day. Magnesium was the natural hero ingredient to build the product around, plus we layered on FDA-approved capsaicin. We also added shea butter and almond oil for luxurious moisturizing. Putting all this together, we developed our hero product Melt Pain Away body butter with magnesium. It helps you restore, replenish and take on the day with a great glow.”

Asutra’s Melt Pain Away body butter Courtesy