The Founders of Fempower Beauty Are Marrying Makeup and Activism
Dismantle the patriarchy and look good doing it.
If you’re someone who prefers to shop brands with an inspiring mission statement, look no further than Fempower Beauty. Co-founders and partners Alexis Androulakis and Christina Basias believe that a woman has the right to have fun with her makeup while also having the opportunity to be a part of a charitable cause near and dear to her heart. Their mission to take a non-profit organization and blend it with a revolutionary makeup brand is a true breath of fresh air in the beauty industry. And thus, Fempower Beauty, a permanent collection of four hyper-colorful lipstick shades (that have ultralight, all-day wear), was born this past January.
The line, named Genesis, is inspired by the story of Adam and Eve, a story told typically from the hypermasculine, religious perspective. Androulakis and Basias decided to give the old tale a much-needed update through a feminist lens, using the stories of each character (the Serpent, Lilith, Adam, and Eve) to inspire the shades of each lipstick. For example, in Fempower’s tale, the Serpent is “made for the slandered. They understand how it feels to be spoken ill of and shamed. But they will not be broken by opinions, slander, or hate speech.” In lipstick form, that’s a lovely nude brown shade.
Beautiful, creamy lipstick may be their product, but the three pillars that embody their ethos—empower, educate, advocate—shape their entire brand philosophy—namely, helping women take a seat at the proverbial table, permanently. With every purchase there is an option to have Fempower make a donation on their customer’s behalf to Dignity Not Despair, an organization that looks to empower and help femme refugees.
We caught up with Fempower’s founders to talk inspiration, their growing community, and what’s next for the new brand.
What was the genesis for Fempower Beauty?
Alexis Androulakis: “As a former makeup artist who spent almost eight years on the sales floor, I noted that not one woman ever approached the counter, looked in the mirror, and said anything positive about [herself]. I eventually would start to twist these negative words into positive affirmations for these clients, and even then they would often turn beet-red from embarrassment. I vowed that I would one day create a brand that made women walk up to those same mirrors and only say positive things.
“In January 2017, after the first official International Women’s March, the idea for Fempower was born on a couch in Christina’s apartment. We stared in disbelief at the volume of women that came together to march. What if all those women donated just one dollar, or five dollars? What could that volume of money do for any number of women’s organizations? What could that level of community build? The conception was simplistic in our minds—a brand that gave back. But Fempower Beauty grew roots fast when we realized [that] for centuries, men had been the only people telling the stories of beauty—why wasn’t there a women’s perspective?”
Christina Basias: “My background is in education, and Alexis’ is in makeup artistry and beauty product development. We synthesized our worlds and created an intellectually stimulating beauty brand, something we thought was missing from the beauty industry. What an opportunity this was to get people thinking about the products they consume and how it makes them feel.
“I found it a little wild that a multi-billion-dollar industry dictates what it means to be beautiful and is still predominantly controlled by men. To challenge this, we felt we needed to go back to a story we mostly know—Adam and Eve, the ultimate archetypal story of the patriarchy. We want to reclaim the narrative through a matriarchal lens and to dismantle the negative perceptions that we feel women have been inherently taught to feel by our world’s beauty standards.”
What is the Fempower Beauty Project?
CB: “[It] is the umbrella of the community and give-back component of our brand, where we have three key elements at work: educate, advocate, and empower. Educate [means our] storytelling and community events [that focus on] struggle, hardship, and accomplishment. We are talking about these and empowering each other both on and offline.
“We offer people the option to gift lipsticks and write messages to femme refugees through the organization Dignity Not Despair. We often don’t think of lipstick or beauty products as a need, but it is equivalent to a power tie. [That’s] empower.
“[And] advocate, [we donate] 10 percent of our earnings. We’re hoping this evolves with the help of our community, since we feel they should have the final say as to how our earnings give back and the change they want to catalyze.”
AA: “We chose Dignity Not Despair to be a key partner because donating beauty products in collaboration with this organization was such a synergistic choice for us. The two [entrepreneurs] who founded the not-for-profit were volunteering as humanitarian aid workers at a refugee camp in Greece back in 2016. While delivering essentials to the refugees, two women pulled them aside and humbly asked, ‘Do you have any makeup?’
“It became clear to them [that], while providing food, shelter, and clothing in crisis situations is undoubtedly crucial, the small things we femmes utilize to empower us when we are broken, defeated, and struggling are equally, if not more, fortifying to a femme in need.”
How did you develop your line of lipsticks?
AA: “ I have been dreaming of my perfect matte lipstick since I first discovered a bullet. Lipstick was always a symbol of womanhood to me, so we were inspired by this idea of starting where femininity and womanhood begins. We hoped [for] a marriage of comfort and explosive vitality in color built into a lasting formula. We blended a trifecta of three waxes and conditioning agents to deliver that smooth lay-down and added coconut oil to create a hydrating, nourishing, lubricating piña colada vibe. We wanted these emotionally activated lipsticks to make you feel a way no lipstick ever had.”
What are you excited to be working on in the next few months?
AA: “Next we want to take you to ancient Egypt and do a deep dive into the eye area. The idea is to continuously chronicle history and [highlight] the rituals and humans that have shaped beauty as we know it. We will bring these emotionally activated products to life while giving back to causes [our community] believes in. We will continue to build our community through our online and offline Humans of Fempower series. We are now piloting different styles of programming to see what is resonating. Our goal is to tell enough new stories to replace the old and define the next evolution of beauty standards throughout the process.”
Photos: Courtesy of Fempower Beauty
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