International Women’s Day: Celebrating the women behind your favourite beauty brands

As the beauty industry continues to grow faster than ever before, there’s never been a better time to be a beauty entrepreneur. Valued at an estimated $US532 billion and counting, according to reports from retail analytics firm, Edited, the beauty industry is one of the most prevalent places for women to self-start their way to big-time success. 

So in honour of International Women’s Day, Sunday March 8, we’re shining a spotlight on the women behind your favourite beauty brands. From what IWD means to them, the best piece of career advice they’ve ever been given and their experiences as female leaders in business, BD sat down with these inspiring women to share their stories.

Rageism Beauty CEO, Doris Humunicki

Founded by Paula Nagel, the first female TV presenter on ABC, Rageism Beauty, a makeup range for over 40s and mature skin, was started with the fact that Nagel believed beauty should not discriminate, and it’s what the brand stands for today, said CEO, Doris Humunicki.

“Ageing isn't something that should be classed as daunting or bad, it should be something that is celebrated and Rageism Beauty is all about helping women feel empowered as they age.”

"When we create a product, the first question we ask is, will this empower and make a woman in her 40s feel beautiful? That's our goal, that's what inspires us and gets us out of bed in the morning." 

That customer-first, inclusive focus is also what drives Humunicki as a leader in business.

“I want every interaction that a customer has with our brand to be positive and empowering and this is something as a team we discuss every day and are constantly figuring out ways to improve.” 

And though it can be easy to focus on the negatives during the tough times when starting out in the industry, Humunicki shares some wise words of advice.

"There is power in your losses and power in your wins. It's something I was told years ago by a mentor and has always stuck with me, it's something that has helped me through many stages of my life, not just my career. It's so easy to focus on the negative but actually every situation in business and also in life teaches you a lesson." 

Gearing up to IWD, Humunicki said the day is all about celebrating women and the amazing things we do every single day, no matter how big or small.

“Often women can be overlooked and having a day to just celebrate us is so empowering and important. I hope every woman on this day, as they should every day, takes a moment to stand in her power and understand the beauty she brings into this world."

LYCON founder, Lydia Jordane

After experimenting with formulations when she was just a teenager, LYCON founder, Lydia Jordane never intended to turn her ideas into a business. But after becoming a beauty therapist 10 years later, things changed, surprising the now CEO.

“The success of LYCON has surprised me greatly as I didn’t realise how special and different my wax formula was. But over the years, LYCON has proven to be the best wax in the world and we constantly receive communication from people of all walks of life requesting where they can find the brand.”

As a leader in the waxing industry, Jordane believes her honesty and open communication has helped the success of the business.

“I am very passionate about honesty and open communication. As humans, we aren’t always right and we need to listen and understand to those we deal with,” she said. 

“We can learn so much from each other, so having honest communication I believe is the only way to better understand a situation, which will facilitate better judgement and decision making. I am adamant that honesty is the only way to build trust and trust is something that we need to treasure and respect, but we need to earn it.”

Clémence Organics founder, Bridget Carmady

As a degree qualified naturopath, Clémence Organics founder, Bridget Carmady, has always been passionate about natural but effective ways to help people improve their health. And after seeing a lack of skincare products on the market that were gentle and made from natural, organic ingredients, but still able to deliver powerful results, Carmady decided to start her own, and Clémence Organics was born.

“It’s been a long road to get to where I am today, and we’ve achieved great things in only a short period (such as launching in Japan last year). I still get the most joy from the emails and messages I receive from customers. When someone tells you that your products have changed their lives, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

For those thinking about making the leap into the beauty industry, Carmady has some wise words of advice.

“Start before you’re ready. Things are never 100% perfect and you will always want to tweak and improve things, but if you don’t make a start, you’ll never get it out there.” 

Clémence Organics will also be giving away a free gift of its Rose Tinted Lips with all orders, to celebrate IWD this year.

Ella Baché CEO, Pippa Hallas

This International Women’s day Ella Baché CEO, Pippa Hallas is continuing to support the women’s cancer charity Cherish Foundation by going on the Cherish Challenge Larapinta 2020 - and she’s encouraging Australians to join her on the journey.

“In 2020, I have decided to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and have signed up to trek the red centre for women’s cancer. This cause is close to my heart as I went on the journey when sadly, my mum was terminally diagnosed with uterine cancer,” said Hallas. 

“Having gone through this experience I am determined to improve the journey for other women and their families. I’ve registered for the Cherish Challenge Larapinta 2020 to raise awareness about this disease, and importantly, to raise funds for much-needed research. I’ll be trekking in honour of my mum and many other woman and families who have been impacted."

Original & Mineral CEO and founder, Jose Bryce Smith

Starting out as a receptionist of her partner’s hair salon, Original & Mineral CEO and founder, Jose Bryce Smith couldn’t believe the smell and fumes of hair colour. Fearing that it was toxic and would eventually become a health issue, Bryce Smith’s search for clean hair colour began. 

“In so many ways we have really beat the odds - it was hugely underfunded, we had massive production issues and more. I pretty much made every mistake you can think of! I am surprised I didn’t give up, and every day I am hugely grateful when another hairdresser tells me they love O&M and they are choosing their health first. When a dream becomes a reality, it’s always a surprise.”

And her advice for you?

“Fail big, it’s how you learn! I would say that to anyone in any industry, surround yourself with people who have different skills to you and back yourself, never punish yourself and get used to being uncomfortable, it’s where you grow.”

Biossance president, Catherine Gore

Starting out with the vision of one day becoming a president of a company, Biossance president Catherine Gore, was humbled when she attained her goal, and ever since has been paying it forward and helping others.

“The advice I give other women is to have your innervoice, and speak to yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend. So that strong motivation, that courage, that belief system and also the compassion that shows up the way you talk to your best friend.”

As leader in the beauty space, Gore said her leadership style is about having a yin and yang balance and setting a good example for the team you want to foster.

“I’m a working mum and I want to put forward a good example and at the same time, trying not to paint a picture that everything is perfect. I think you need to include a bit of vulnerability in that to be truly respected as a leader.”

Mellow Cosmetics founding director, Ima Asali

In 2014 founding director, Ima Asali, started Mellow Cosmetics in her tiny garage. After making the big decision to not return to her corporate job after maternity leave, Asali took the plunge to become an entrepreneur and she hasn’t taken the opportunity for granted.

“I am so glad that I live in a country that gives me the right, the power and the resources to have my own business, be my own boss and to be able to empower and inspire other women by doing what I am truly passionate about.”

This year for IWD, Mellow Cosmetics is planning to use its social media platforms with over 216,000 followers, to raise awareness about domestic violence and those women affected by it.

“International Women’s day is very special to me as it’s a reminder of how far we have come towards gender equality. But there are still countries that do not treat women with the respect they deserve and they do not have the basic rights that we do, so we cannot stop until every woman on this planet has the power and the rights they deserve."

Alpha-H brand founder, Michelle Doherty

After being introduced to glycolic acid in the early 1990s, Michelle Doherty immediately realised it was going to change the beauty industry as we knew it, and Alpha-H was born. Fast forward to today and Doherty’s one-woman operation has grown to be a global cult phenomenon which is lauded by the beauty elite, makeup artists, top industry figures and loyal users alike.

“While I always knew that glycolic acid was going to change the beauty industry as we knew it, I never imagined that Alpha-H would become the globally recognised brand it is today. I still have to pinch myself sometimes! I am so proud to have our product stocked by prestige retailers and salons across the globe and feel so humbled by the praise and recognition the brand receives from around the world.”

As leader in the skincare industry, Doherty prides herself on being a good role model for women in business.

“Over the past 25 years, I have committed myself to becoming a positive role model for women in business in general, not just within the beauty industry. As a pioneer of acids in skincare and being someone who wasn’t afraid to disrupt the industry, I hope that my story inspires others to follow their passion, to be strong when it comes to business and to always believe in themselves.”

Novellus managing director, Beatriz Durango

After moving from Colombia to Australia, and following many years of research and discovery, Beatriz Durango went about designing and developing Novellus, a range which incorporates the amazing natural active ingredients that are part of her diet and lifestyle.

“I believe that being responsible within my role as a leader can help inspire women not to feel pressure to fit any defined stereotype set by societal pressure. By empowering one another, we can work on making better decisions surrounding our health and wellbeing, which I believe is all linked to beauty.”

International Women's Day has always been a big part of Durango’s life, and now she is continuing that through with her work at Novellus.

“My father would always use the day, to show appreciation towards my mother, my sister and myself. Growing up in that environment has made me cherish how significant the day is to all women, highlighting our strength, achievement and progress."

“This year we plan to promote the Novellus Starter Kit, which includes products containing Rhododendron Stem Cell extract, a flower which grows in extreme conditions and has adapted itself to thrive and survive. We thought this was a fitting ingredient to highlight for IWD, as it embodies the strongest characteristics that we possess, as women.”

DMK head of education and founder of Regul8, Debbie Dickson

Describing herself as innovative, passionate and results-driven, DMK head of education and founder of Regul8, Debbie Dickson has had an incredible, long-standing career within the beauty industry. 

“It is a privilege to share my industry experience through delivering innovative education to women around the world. There is nothing more rewarding than imparting knowledge on others that has the potential to change a person’s life for the better.”

With beauty being an ever-changing industry that can be enhanced and nurtured through the power of knowledge, Dickson shares her best advice.

“I believe that if you are not feeling uncomfortable you are not growing. Embrace feeling uncomfortable, this is where you grow the most for the better. And finally, be grateful, this will ensure your path remains hopeful and your future bright. Yesterday will not be a good day unless you make the most of right now.”

muk Haircare co-founder and director, Janelle Reynolds

Janelle Reynolds co-founded muk Haircare in 2007, from a desire to offer hairdressers and consumers something unique, a brand that wasn’t confirming to others and stood on its own with its own personality.

“13 years later and launching with only one product to start with, Hard muk Styling Mud, I can’t believe we are now a global brand sold in over 20 countries. A brand with a full service offering in colour, retail and electrical - the only professional hair care brand in the market to offer all three.” 

Though the business is a global success now, Reynolds provides some wise words of advice for those hard early days. 

“Before muk was born we had our fair share of business disasters, which was very hard at the time to foresee what the future held. But we never gave up. I never gave up. No matter how hard it was, I knew we had something special and just around the corner there would be success. With hard work, believing in your brand and putting one foot in front of the other every day, you can make anything work.”

Trilogy International Limited CEO, ​Sue Hogan

Trilogy is excited to announce it is a female empowerment partner and signatory to the United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles. Trilogy CEO ​Sue Hogan said the initiatve is at the brand’s core purpose.

“We are extremely proud to support the work towards ending violence against women and children in the Pacific through our Empowerment Partnership with UN Women New Zealand. As a female-founded business, passionate about women’s empowerment, our commitment to this initiative affirms a core element of our purpose.”

As well as the UN partnership, Trilogy prioritises supporting the women of Lesotho, who source the brand's rosehip oil. Supporting the communities it works with has been embedded in Trilogy’s culture since inception. 

“The team we’ve partnered with in Lesotho has deep ties to its local communities and gives harvesters, the majority of whom are women, the potential to earn an income without a specific skill set and without being displaced from their homes and families."

Carven founder, Madame Carmen de Tommaso

Carven Fragrances is paying tribute to Madame Carmen de Tommaso, founder of the legendary fashion house. Her talent as a dressmaker and perfumer, has been honoured with the creation of a new collection of exclusive fragrances, each incorporating the most beautiful raw materials from every country Madame Carven visited.

Each scent draws olfactory inspiration from the designer’s travels and the packaging reflects fashion elements of those collections from her tour. The bottles are reminiscent of Carven’s first, original fragrance, Ma Griffe. 

The Carven Collection is available exclusively at David Jones from April 2020.