Dualities 7 Beauty Power Duos Moving the Industry Forward
power duos

7 Beauty Power Duos Moving the Industry Forward

Sure, some things stand alone just fine. Peanut butter, for instance. Perfectly delightful, but with jelly or chocolate? Chef’s kiss. Vitamin C is an incredible skincare powerhouse, but it needs stability, which is why ferulic acid often comes to the rescue. Joe Biden is nice, but add Kamala Harris to the mix and you’ve got the Golden Ticket. 

There are plenty of inspiring one-(wo)man founder’s stories. But there’s something to be said about a partnership; when a meeting of the minds turns an idea into a brilliant execution. Taking part in a collaboration requires companionship and compromise. It’s not about your sole wants, but rather the collective view. “Having a co-founder makes this business journey much less lonely,” says Marianna Hewitt, co-founder of Summer Fridays. “I couldn’t imagine doing it alone. You get to have a partner who has the same goals and visions as you do, who equally wants to do what is best for the company. Whenever we need to vent or talk through things, we always have each other. It’s the best.”

When we thought of dynamic duos in the beauty and wellness industries, these were the first names that popped into our head: they’re educators, movement-makers; some have improved upon classic ideas to make them great, and some have democratized beauty and wellness for everyone. Here’s seven dynamic duos to inspire your next idea (or two). 

Mented Cosmetics: KJ Miller & Amanda Johnson

Mented Costmetics
Design by Cristina Cianci

Founded in 2017, Mented Cosmetics was born after founders Johnson and Miller met at Harvard Business School while both participating in a student-run musical. Miller worked as a management consultant in Deloitte’s retail practice and a jewelry buyer for the department store, Sears. Johnson served as as the head of business development for Barney’s New York and as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs. Then, the two created Mented as a response to the limited shades offered for deep and dark skin tones. 

Mented is vegan and paraben-free—and their executive team is 100% women of color. Miller and Johnson’s business acumen and desire to make a positive change with their brand is what keeps Mented Cosmetics thriving, and they recently announced the brand is now available at Target. “We pride ourselves on staying approachable and community-oriented. It's why we spend so much time in our DMs!” says Miller. 

Follow them: @MentedCosmetics 

What's a quality you love about your business partner?

KJ: “Amanda is so even-keeled, especially compared to me and my rollercoaster of emotions and reactions. The sky could literally be falling in on us, and Amanda's reaction would be calm, cool, and collected. She'd look for shelter, find it (quickly), and move on to the next item on her to-do list. I'm amazed by her every day.” 

Amanda: “I love that KJ is so funny. She is a former comedian who is great with words. She keeps me laughing all day and I couldn’t have done this without her. [She] is great at strategic thinking. She is thoughtful and organized with big ideas. That makes it easier for me to execute and rally the team around our big plans.”

What makes you excited about the industry you work in? 

KJ: Beauty is such a fun industry, because it's always morphing to meet people's needs in the moment. I love that we've been able to help the industry become more inclusive. I think about all the young Black and brown girls who won't have to struggle to find makeup in their shades the way we did, and that really excites me.

Keys Soulcare: Alicia Keys & Dr. Renée Snyder

keys soulcare
Design by Cristina Cianci

When Alicia Keys announced she was launching a beauty line, we were admittedly a little confused—the queen of no makeup was partnering with cosmetics behemoth e.l.f. Beauty to launch something new. Once the singer revealed that her brand, Keys Soulcare, was not only a skincare line but a mind, body, and wellness destination, our confusion settled into excitement. Learning more about the brand at a virtual press event, we were impressed when she announced she partnered with Dr. Renée Snyder, acclaimed dermatologist and co-founder of W3LL People (which is now owned by e.l.f.) to develop and formulate the products in the collection. 

We can’t reveal all the goodness to come just yet—the brand’s first “ritual” will be officially available December 3—but one thing that’s been made clear is how involved Keys has been from start to finish, and well as the importance of professional education driving the products within the line, thanks to Dr. Snyder. Pair that with e.l.f’s expansive repertoire of innovation and affordability, and you have celebrity beauty done right. 

Follow them: @KeysSoulcare

What differentiates you from your competitors?  

Dr. Renée: Keys Soulcare is a community that lives beyond beauty and lifestyle products. It is a destination where every soul can experience moments of self-love and acceptance so we can all shine brighter. We are calling and bringing together those who bring light to the darkness; the warriors of light. Keys Soulcare is here to help us learn how to shine brighter, inside and out, so we can share our light energy with the universe. And when we shine brighter, we increase the positive frequency.  

What’s a quality you love about your partner? 

Dr. Renée: I am constantly awed by Alicia’s affection for bringing something new and uplifting to this community. She truly leaves us all inspired and empowered anytime we are together.   

Alicia: I am honored to work alongside a leader in the field who not only showcases dermatological expertise but also contributes her unmistakable passion to clean ingredients.   

Name something your partner does that makes you better at your job.

Alicia: Dr. Renée encourages us to strive for greatness with our formulas. She is able to develop and bring to life any ideas we throw at her, all using clean ingredients. She knows what I like and suggests awesome things that really make it special. She truly makes my wildest skincare and bodycare dreams come true.  

Dr. Renée: Alicia wants to help everyone discover their own self-care ritual—and that act of self-care is so important, especially now. I love working alongside her to help create space for others to set intentions and practice rituals in order to take care of the whole you.

Boy Smells: Matthew Herman & David Kien

Boy smells
Design by Cristina Cianci

A tale as old as You’ve Got Mail, Herman and Kien—both romantic partners and co-founders—met on the internet. Both veterans of the fashion industry, the pair played scientist in their kitchen in 2016 to create the gender-fluid candle brand Boy Smells. Four years later, they have a cult-following inspired by their first candle, Kush; a collaboration with country superstar Kacey Musgraves under their belt (buy Slow Burn, you won’t be disappointed), and have found success during the pandemic while launching collections like Hypernature and Rituals.

The brand is focused on “genderfulness,” a term they describe as the opposite of “genderless"; a “celebration of all identities that recognizes we all harness power from different gender architypes.” Candles can often smell like a box of chocolates, a department store, or your grandmother’s blouse—but Boy Smells creates candles akin to a signature fragrance. Uniquely you, they feature notes that don’t just harvest memories but are inspired by modern culture. Oh yeah, and at $29, they’re an affordable luxury. 

What was your biggest win as a team?

Matthew and David: This past June and July, we had the opportunity to use our platform to share stories from outstanding members of the LGBTQ+ community through a Luminary-driven campaign, which spotlighted Naomi Smalls, Richie Shazam, VINCINT, Harper Watters, Alex Newell, Riley Lanezz, and more of our amazing brand friends and fans. 

In our minds, before the pandemic took hold, we had envisioned our first-ever IRL celebration for Pride and we admittedly were disappointed when we realized those plans weren’t going to happen in light of everything. What grew in its place was a Pride month alongside the BLM movement, which pushed the community to reexamine the ideals of equity, inclusion, and representation. We had a moment to really reflect on the roots of Pride in a meaningful and powerful way, all while supporting our good friends at The Trevor Project. Through the sale of our limited-edition Pride collection, we ultimately raised over $47,000 to support The Trevor Project, notably at a time when they were an essential support system to the LGBTQ+ community due to COVID-19, which keeps many apart from their usual support systems. 

Follow them: @Boy__Smells

Chemist Confessions: Gloria Lu & Victoria Fu

chemist confessions
Design by Cristina Cianci

The past few years, beauty consumers have transitioned swiftly from scooping up every matte lipstick and coverage product in sight to analyzing each individual ingredient in their skincare routine. Chemists Gloria Lu and Victoria Fu, former cubicle buddies developing products for a beauty conglomerate, started Chemist Confessions: A skincare science blog dedicated to informing their readers and teaching them how to choose better skincare for their particular skin type. 

Their Insta-Learn series covers everything one could possibly need to know, from decoding INCI lists to comparing similar products and introducing new ingredients. Fu and Lu make learning about skincare fun, easy to follow, and accessible to everyone. With the success of their blog and social following, the chemists launched their own skincare line which upholds the highest level of efficacy and safety while sharing all percentages of actives used. The company is working to expand their actives lineup in 2021.

What quality do you love in your business partner?

Victoria: There’s a lot! What I love the most is her humor (it’s how we became friends). Gloria never fails to make me laugh and lift my mood in this journey doing Chemist Confessions Inc. She's helped me get through some tough days and definitely keeps the creative juice flowing.

Gloria: I think I'd have to say how scrappy she is. We have done some really weird stuff working on Chemist Confessions. And it somehow included Victoria breaking into my parents' apartment at some point. She handles everything with a smile on her face, and somehow finds positivity on days when I feel like there isn't any to be found.

What progress needs to be made in your particular category and how are you/your brand helping to make that progress? 

Victoria: Based on the hundreds of questions we get, we still need better product education. The skincare market is incredibly oversaturated and many users now wanting to find better skincare are still lost. So there’s still a lot of work to be done in skincare education.

Follow them: @chemist.confessions

Summer Fridays: Lauren Ireland & Marianne Hewitt

Summer Fridays
Design by Cristina Cianci

It seems like influencer product lines are popping up faster than celebrity pregnancy announcements these days. Standing out in the skincare world can be tough, especially if you aren’t known as an expert in the field—but having Sephora as the exclusive brand-launch retailer can help. Hewitt and Ireland both note that opportunity changed the trajectory of their business, Summer Fridays

The skincare line was created over the course of two years and launched with a single product: The Jet Lag Mask. (You’ve probably seen it gorgeously photographed in a flat lay on Instagram.) Both influencers, the co-founders pride themselves on working with their community of followers to inspire their launches. This online savvy informs everything from product development to aesthetics, where each font, component, and color is picked specifically with the feed in mind. Their emphasis on listening to consumer feedback along with vanity-approved packaging has made Summer Fridays a skincare staple in a short amount of time—and possibly why the brand has an almost 500K following.

Always forward-thinking, the brand would be remiss not to focus on sustainability. Summer Fridays uses a lot of aluminum and glass as well as font dyes that are better for the planet, but acknowledges the industry as a whole has a long way to go. 

What quality do you love about your partner?

Lauren: I have a lot more than one. I really admire Marianna’s ability to work more efficiently than anyone else I’ve ever known. Plus, her creativity and ability to build a brand with such a specific vision is unparalleled. She pushes our team to find solutions to issues that may seem impossible to others.

Marianna: There are so many qualities to love about Lauren—if you get a chance to meet her IRL, you’ll see how she exudes happiness, positivity and is always full of gratitude. These are incredible qualities to have in a friend, business partner, and leader. In business, there are so many ups and downs, and Lauren can navigate through any scenario life throws at us with grace. That is so important to have when people look to you for guidance. You want someone who can remain positive even in the toughest of situations.

Name something your partner does that makes you better at your job.

Lauren: We have different decision-making processes, and her ability to go with her instincts and work quickly balances out my need to take a bit more time before making a big decision. I think it’s one of our best collective qualities in our partnership, and her quick thinking makes me better at my job.

Marianna: I am pretty quick at making decisions, but sometimes a little too quick. I like to go with my gut and make a decision then move on, but some bigger decisions need more thought, time, and consideration. We are the perfect Libra balancing scales for each other, because when I need to slow down and think things through, Lauren helps me pause.

Follow them: @SummerFridays

Modern Fertility: Afton Vechery & Carly Leahy

Modern Fertility
Design by Cristina Cianci

If you’re a person with a uterus, chances are you've discussed your hormones with your gynecologist at one point or another—whether it was to choose a birth control option, begin family planning, or determine your hormone levels ahead of menopause. Unfortunately, these tests—which include vital information that can affect a woman’s quality of life—cost thousands of dollars and may not be covered by insurance. Leahy and Vechery’s decision to take a taboo subject like fertility and democratize it evolved into at-home hormone tests for just $159. 

Leahy, who was formerly at Uber, and Vechery, who previously worked at 23AndMe, are enthusiastic about making fertility discussions mainstream and accessible to all. The brand’s focus on education sets them apart from competitors; they believe the power of information and community helps anyone with a vagina become their best personal health advocates. It’s not about pushing an agenda as it is helping women make the best decisions for their lifestyle. In October, Modern Fertility launched an ovulation and pregnancy test at Walmart. 

Name something your partner does that makes you better at your job.

Afton: Carly has made me a much better writer. Writing was never my strength and learning from Carly, one of the most talented wordsmiths I’ve met, has made such a difference.

Carly: Afton is a master negotiator. She knows how to set up an agreement that drives value for everyone––and she never settles when she thinks we can do better for our customers or our team. She lives and breathes Modern Fertility in a way that inspires me every day. 

What progress needs to be made in your particular category and how are you/your brand helping to make that progress?

The fertility industry desperately needs new and improved research. There is so much we don’t yet know about fertility science and what’s happening with our bodies, and this would be huge for those who like all the info to plan ahead. At Modern Fertility, we’re investing in new research that covers new nuances in fertility, ultimately to give anyone with a uterus better markers of their reproductive health. The bulk of industry research focuses on infertility, but there is much less known about the fertile timeline. Our inherently proactive approach gives us a unique opportunity to improve fertility science for the planning stages, and we publish papers every year that dig up new correlations and bust myths. These better predictors of future fertility will eventually bubble up into our products and help push the industry forward.

Follow them: @ModernFertility

Malin + Goetz: Matthew Malin & Andrew Goetz

Malin + Goetz
Design by Cristina Cianci

When you think of the originals in the skincare space, Malin + Goetz is a tried-and-true mainstay. They are the OG’s of this list, having been in the industry longer than the other brands combined. 

Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz met in 1992 at a bar, and 12 years later, Malin + Goetz apothecary in Chelsea opened. Cruelty-free, made sustainably in New York for all skin types and genders, the brand came together after Malin, who previously oversaw global sales for Kiehl’s and was a cosmetics buyer at Barney’s New York and Goetz, formerly the Marketing Director at Swiss design manufacturer Vitra, took their love of original neighborhood apothecaries and combined it with products that featured natural ingredients and advanced technology. 

The romantic and professional duo has been serving uncomplicated beauty for 16 years now, from aluminum-free deodorant (before it was a “thing”) to their best-selling Cilantro Daily Hair Conditioner, as well as tomato, cannabis and leather-fragranced candles. 

What quality do you love about your partner?

Andrew: There is nothing more attractive to me than intelligence, and it goes without saying that I love how clever Matthew always is. He’s also incredibly direct, which is also something I admire—and is the perfect compliment to my less direct approach. Because we see the world almost entirely differently, I believe we are the perfect complements to one another. We are always challenging each other’s ideas, but also always open to different ways of thinking, and ultimately the best solution. While it may not always be an easy process, it is indeed a great process.

Matthew: Andrew is both funny and smart, and if you know him, you know this couldn’t be more true. Andrew is opinionated and sees things differently than I do. This provides a check and balance to problem solving and ultimately the best possible solution. 

What was the biggest win for your team?

We were profitable in our first year.

What progress needs to be made in your particular category and how are you/your brand helping to make that progress? 

We have always been transparent about our formulas and brand. We could speak louder than we have. It was also a differentiator. As consumers become better educated, it is important that there be an honest openness and consistency for ingredients, concerns and even safety.  

Follow them: @MalinandGoetz

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