One of life’s biggest ironies (and injustices) is that most major beauty companies are lead by older men who, obviously, don’t really get what the majority of their female customer base really wants. But, over the past couple years, a crop of young disruptors has started to give them a run for their money. These new beauty bosses are younger, more tapped in—and a lot of them are Canadian.
Part of what makes these young bosses so successful is that they really listen to their customers. They source info through social and use feedback and reviews to improve their product offerings—something bigger companies aren’t usually nimble enough to do.
And their fresh approach is paying off. Just watch as these five Canadian beauty entrepreneurs take over the industry. Each of these women started from the bottom, and now they’re here to share their journey to success—and maybe even inspire you to start on your own.
Taylor Frankel’s company Nudestix experienced meteoric success pretty early on. “It’s insane to look back and think just four years ago we were packing boxes in our basement in Thornhill,” says the 21-year-old. “We’ve sinced launched everywhere from North America to South East Asia and more. It is very rare for an indie brand to [grow] so quickly, especially in such competitive beauty markets.”
When Frankel started, there wasn’t a lot of minimalist makeup in the market. Nudestix’s line-up of sheer, blendable lip, eye and cheek pencils is made up of exactly the kind of products tons of girls were waiting for. “I like to think of millennials as the new modern-day woman,” says Frankel, who runs the business alongside her sister Ally and mom Jenny. “She craves beauty that is real and authentic to her lifestyle.” The company’s newest product, Nudies Tinted Blur, is a soft-focus mineral stick that blends with natural skin tones—fans were buzzing about it before it even hit the market, and it even got the attention of Kim K, who posted about it on her Instagram Stories. So, yeah, Frankel’s star is def on the rise.
Haley Bogaert was just 24 when she launched her brand HBFace after working as a makeup pro at some of Toronto’s top salons. “I had the skills, the knowledge and an amazing client base, so I decided to be my own boss,” she says. The risk paid off for Bogaert, whose line of products are designed to be quick and easy to apply. It’s an approach to beauty that’s resonated with her customers, who now have to book weeks in advance just to get a brow appointment at her studio. “Canada is becoming a fashion and beauty capital and I think millennials pay attention to supporting local brands,” she says. “I believe you can look gorgeous in five minutes if you know the right routine—and take care of your brows.” And to the girls who want to follow in her footsteps, Bogaert has advice: “Following your dreams means you will encounter many challenges and Nos, but you have to have tough skin to keep pushing forward,” she says. “I also believe you need to have your ducks in a row and great plan for the future, or else your brand really can’t grow.”
When Mabelle Lee couldn’t find the kind of luxe and natural lashes she wanted on the market, she decided to start Velour Lashes. “After months of sourcing the world’s softest materials and perfecting the craftsmanship that went into each pair, I knew I had something very special,” she says. Fast-forward seven years, and the brand, which was recently picked up by Sephora, is exploding. That’s not to say there weren’t challenges along the way. “There were the few that doubted the experience I had to build a company from the ground up, but I had to ask myself ‘if not now, then when?’” says Lee, who quit her job in finance to get started. “I saw being a young woman as a strength and wanted Velour to be a testament that: regardless of your age, anything is possible if you’re willing to go after it and work really hard,” she says.
“I started Flawless by Friday at 26, and I found that I wasn’t really taken seriously by most people in the business world,” says founder Brittny Robins. But persistence paid off: Robins continued to fight to get funding for her skincare brand and it’s clear that now she’s on a serious roll. A big part of her success is connecting with customers on social. “I think millennials want to see themselves in our content and also be able to see progress,” she says. “We don’t grow alone, we grow with our community, and we ask for their input along the way, whether it’s how we design a bottle, or what we want to name a new product.” This month, Robins is expanding her brand from skincare to include makeup palettes, brushes, lashes and double-sided lip products. At the same time, she’s launching a marketplace at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, featuring all female entrepreneurs, so that she can use her own success to help others get started.
When you think about the fact that the skin soaks up 60% of the product we apply to it, there’s really no excuse for toxic ingredients, says Woodlot co-founder Sonia Chhinji. So when it came to starting her own line of of home and body basics, Chhinji was focused on keeping it handcrafted and natural. “We wanted to change the way that people viewed and consumed natural products by also making sure to incorporate the rituals that have been passed down to us from previous generations,” she says of her partner’s family’s Lebanese soap-making traditions that put sustainability at the forefront. Clearly, she’s on to something. “What started as a little candle company that could has evolved into a much greater community made up of people from all over the world,” says Chhinji.
Today, the company operates on a global landscape, and is backed by an amazing community of team members, stockists and customers. Still, along the way, Sonia has faced some pushback. “There’s a ton of stereotypes around being a female founder and what types of companies women typically start. I tend to ignore this and surround myself with positive and supportive people,” she says. For inspo, she looks to beauty bosses like Emily Weiss, Rose-Marie Swift and Tata Harper who came before her. To those who want to come next, Sonia suggests just getting started. “Don’t spend too much time trying to perfect something. It’s better to get your idea off the ground and iterate along the way.”