Photo Credit: Beautyinthebag.com
On the night of the 2017 Women’s March, Alexis Androulakis and Christina Basias watched the massive numbers of women and allies that came together across the world to march for equality. They imagined every human that marched donating and the change it would create, and it was an AHA moment. They saw an opening for activist beauty, and thus Fempower Beauty was born.
The initial idea that Alexis and Christina had was for a product that femmes interact with on a daily basis to spark magic and create impact. They chose beauty because it has inevitably dictated what it means to be “feminine” for centuries. And they knew that those rules had to change. Wanting to make giving back as easy as putting on your favorite lipstick while also creating change, Alexis and Christina centered the brand around activism and using beauty to uplift rather than exploit.
BITB caught up with Alexis and Christina to chat about the beauty business, dive deeper into their motivation for Fempower Beauty and get the scoop on new products on the horizon.
Tell us about Fempower Beauty. What was your inspiration for developing the line of lipsticks?
Fempower Beauty is the world’s first activist beauty brand, making high-end luxury products and giving back – one game-changing beauty product at a time.
We are a community of badass femmes, using empowerment to transform the beauty industry in major ways.We wanted to make giving back look as good as it feels. For every Fempower Beauty product purchased, we give one. Fempower is where giving back is truly as easy as buying your favorite beauty product.
ALEXIS: As a former Nars regional makeup artist, who spent almost eight years selling beauty products on the sales floors of a variety of distribution outlets, I noted that not one woman in that entire time ever approached a mirror and said anything positive about themselves. I was 19 years old when I started behind the counter and utterly perplexed by this phenomenon. I eventually would start to twist these negative words into positive affirmations for these clients, and even then they would often turn beat 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.
My partner, Christina quickly became the lens through which I filtered every crazy idea, and eventually I realized she wasn’t just a filter, but that she needed to be a part of the dream, in order for it to become a reality. We work seamlessly together in our relationship, to the point that why wouldn’t we go into business together, became the only question. And so I continued to filter and pitch ideas and Christina continued to push me deeper as she does best. Finally, in January of 2017, after the first official International Women’s March, the idea for Fempower was born on a couch in Christina’s apartment. We stared at the TV in utter disbelief at the volume of woman that came together to march. Which catalyzed the core thought—-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 deep roots very fast when we realized for centuries, men had been the only people telling the stories of beauty — why wasn’t there a women’s perspective? Why were these same men controlling the standards of beauty?
CHRISTINA: 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. I never had the desire to start a brand per se, until I met Alexis. Her level of passion and enthusiasm for building beauty with meaning was so intoxicating. I did always want to give back to the world and challenge thinking in creative ways. I’ve played around with the idea of starting a non-profit, but when Alexis and I started thinking about giving back to people and building a community, we realized that FEMPOWER BEAUTY is the perfect opportunity to synthesize both of our passions. The more that I learned about the beauty industry through Alexis, and by just watching her experiences in her career, it became fairly obvious how controlled it was by men, and what an opportunity this was to get people thinking and intellectually curious 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. With a background in education and almost a decade of experience in teaching high school English, FEMPOWER BEAUTY ended up becoming the most intense and creative lesson plan for the masses I’ve ever worked on. As we dug deeper, as I like to do, we realized that it’s BEEN this way in many aspects of our lives that we are blind to — from the pink tax on feminine product down to the history of the technology we purchase (look it up, there is such a thing as technofeminism) — many of the stories we know have been told through a primarily male lens. To challenge this and enlighten minds, we felt we needed to go back to the beginning of time to a story we mostly know, the story of Adam and Eve, the ultimate archetypal story of the patriarchy and the beginning of this trend. The more research we did, the more we realized how we need to bring this story to light in a new way, and re-negotiate the emotions of these characters through a Fempowered and matriarchal lens. We want to reclaim the narrative. And most importantly we wanted our community to reclaim their narrative in the process. To allow these products to be the living affirmations Alexis would spin into positivity on the sales floor. To dismantle the negative perceptions that we feel women have been inherently taught to feel and perceive by the twisted beauty standards in our world.
What is your best-seller / personal favorite? Any new products on the horizon?
ALEXIS: As a makeup artist and product developer I have been dreaming of my perfect Matte Lipstick since I first discovered a bullet, letting go of my adolescence colored by MAC Oh Baby lipglass, and entering womanhood with Nars Jungle Red. Lipstick was always a symbol of womanhood to me, so we were inspired by this idea of starting where femininity begins but also where womanhood begins. Lipstick. Soon into my relationship with Christina, it became clear that the search had become one for OUR perfect matte lip. And so we set out to develop a lipstick, that would offer love at first swipe. We hoped to match with the tastes and preferences of femmes who were seeking the 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 our lipsticks have now become synonymous for, and added coconut oil to create a pina colada vibe, but more like getting caught in a hydrating, nourishing and lubricating lip rain. Ultra balmy, vitamin depositing and pigment perfecting were high on the list of desires that we shared with our Italian supplier. Finally we sprinkled in exotic berries so sweet, they could invariably transport you to the garden of Eve. We wanted these emotionally activated lipsticks to make you feel in a way no lipstick ever had. We wanted them to lives as symbols of strength and affirmations you wear. We plan to chronicle history and hero the products that came from each respective era. Adam our symbol of equality–also equal parts brown and pink—is definitely our hottest seller! Christina and I both take turns rocking Lilith and Eve the most. I guess we love radically bold pigment!
CHRISTINA: Next we want to take you to ancient Egypt and do a deep dive into the eye area. The idea is to continuously unearth history and hero the rituals and humans that have shaped beauty as we know it through storytelling and new age twists on those stories. We will bring these emotionally activated products to life that can be living affirmations that our Humans of Fempower apply like armour—all while giving back to causes they believe in.
What is Humans of Fempower?
In short Humans of Fempower is our community and the air we breathe at Fempower. We built Fempower Beauty to collectively reclaim the untold stories of remarkable women and inspire others to own their narrative. We spread messages of empowerment on our social channels and IRL during our Humans of Fempower Salons, with a community of humans who think differently, like us. We dream of opening a store where stories can come to life all the time. A sacred space where all those who think differently, can gather, connect, and even discover their identities through beauty.We will never stop wanting to bring humans together and inspire them to share their stories and wear their strength and impact where the world can see it. We are now piloting different styles of programming to see what is resonating.
Whether we capture stories IRL through our intimate gatherings, through videography, photography, the mission is the same. Share as many stories as we can, to ignite and inspire, to provoke the positive thoughts we should have when we look in the mirror. Our goal is to ultimately tell enough new stories to replace the old, and define the next evolution of beauty standards throughout the process. We like to think that beauty is the needle, our Humans of Fempower are the thread.