IWD Banner

15 Women in Beauty and Wellness Who Have Inspired Us This Year

From brand founders to yoga instructors.

At Byrdie, we celebrate the contributions of women in beauty and wellness every day. However, it is only right to shower the dynamic women pushing these industries forward with extra love on International Women's Day. Over the last year, there have been significant (and much-needed) advances in diversity, sustainability, and innovation across both categories. And this is largely thanks to the countless women in beauty and wellness who are working tirelessly to make a lasting difference.

From founders who conceptualize game-changing products, to executives making important decisions behind the scenes, to people in our everyday lives making a difference—there are so many significant players who deserve to be thanked endlessly for their efforts. This roundup is our way of honoring the work that they have done, the work that they are doing, and the work they will do. Ahead, hear from Team Byrdie on the 15 women who have personally inspired us over the last year.

Rebecca Grammer-Ybarra, Founder of Homebody

Rebecca Grammer-Ybarra

Byrdie / Rebecca Grammer-Ybarra

"Rebecca Grammer-Ybarra founded CBD company Homebody in 2019, after finding solace in CBD during a period of turmoil. At first, she was anxious about the predominantly white nature of the CBD industry and systemic racism surrounding its products (despite equal usage rates, Black people are 3.7x more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people). But after the events of June 2020 inspired her to reveal herself publicly as a Black founder, her company has skyrocketed in popularity. Beyoncé named Homebody on her list of favorite Black-owned businesses, and they've received press in Cosmopolitan, Self, Thrillist, and more. The Homebody bath soaks are truly astonishing, made with herbs and food-grade active ingredients for an experience that calms your mind and body. They're effective, natural, visual, and perfect for pandemic relaxation." —Kathryn Vandervalk, editorial & strategy director

Jené Roestorf, Founder of Luxe Botanics 

Jené Roestorf

Byrdie / Jené Roestorf

Jené Roestorf founded her skincare company Luxe Botanics after 12 years in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, formulating her products with two principles. The first is science: The global botanical oils she's chosen—camu camu, kigelia africana, and marula—each have properties that protect and balance our skin at the molecular level. The second is sustainability, though Roestorf takes this beyond packaging and excluding certain chemicals. Roestorf chose her wild-harvested ingredients specifically because of the economic benefits for the African and Brazilian communities that grow them. She believes in an ethical supply chain, providing good to the world from the beginning of the production process through the end. She sources her ingredients through fair trade alliances, partners with Buy1Give1 to offer educational opportunities for African women and children for every product purchased, and provides discounts to customers who prove they recycled their last Luxe Botanics purchase. —Kathryn Vandervalk, editorial & strategy director

Leila Kashani Manshoory, Founder of Alleyoop

Leila Kashani Manshoory

Byrdie / Leila Kashani Manshoory

"Leila Kashani Manshoory founded Alleyoop after a pitch meeting when she realized her audience had been staring at her armpit. In a rush to get to work, she'd only shaven one armpit, and an idea was born: an on-the-go razor with built-in shaving cream. Since then, Alleyoop has expanded to other products for on-the-go women, like body wipes if you need to freshen up quickly after a workout. The products are multi-taskers—a single pen that works as an eyeliner, brow pencil, highlighter, and lip liner—and designed so busy women can carry their beauty routine in their purse. They're also affordable and vegan. We love to indulge in a multi-step skincare and makeup routine when we can, but Alleyoop products come in handy when you're hustling, and life is flying at you fast. The burden of looking "polished" at work often falls disproportionately on women, and Manshoory's work helps to ease this burden." —Kathryn Vandervalk, editorial & strategy director

Kimmie Torgerson, Art Director at Youth To The People

Kimmie Torgerson

Byrdie / Kimmie Torgerson

"Kimmie is actually a Byrdie alumna and was our graphic designer a few years back. She has since moved on as a designer for Youth to the People, creating amazing campaign imagery and marketing designs for the skincare brand. While I've always admired her work, what stands out the most to me is how she uses her design skills to educate the public on environmental justice and sustainability. Her very shareable graphics are filled with educational nuggets to bring awareness to the many ways we mindlessly consume and how it affects our community and, of course, the planet at large. She's taught me so much about how to properly recycle (i.e., I didn't know you had to remove the greasy parts of a pizza box for them to be recyclable until watching her Instagram story) and how to cultivate a more sustainable beauty routine. It's clear that she has a genuine passion for protecting the Earth, which fuels me to do the same." —Lindsey Metrus, senior editor

Jessamyn Stanley, Yoga Instructor, Author, and Podcaster

Jessamyn Stanley, Yoga Instructor, Author, and Podcaster

Byrdie / Jessamyn Stanley

"If you don't already follow Jessamyn, please immediately do so. The yogi, author, and general badass consistently posts beautiful, motivational (and hysterical) captions about her body liberation journey and how she's come to love and accept her body despite the naysayers who think fitness experts should fit into a specific (read: thin and chiseled) box. She's constantly sharing yoga flows, modification tips, and words of encouragement, but whether you're into fitness or not, there's definitely something for everyone on her page." —Lindsey Metrus, senior editor

Roseline Lawrence, Model and Influencer

Roseline Lawrence, Model and Influencer

Byrdie / Roseline Lawrence

"I decided to choose people who felt a bit closer to home. While I'm deeply empowered by brand founders and other industry notables meeting this moment, the true inspiration, at least for me, comes from those I've been lucky enough to share space with. Such is the case with Roseline Lawrence, a woman I met at a local restaurant in my neighborhood a few years ago. After following her on Instagram, her daily updates became a breath of fresh air during this particularly difficult time. She models (see stunning looks here and here) for brands like Parade and Ilia, cooks and curates a mouth-watering Instagram called @fatgirlseating, dances so much you can feel her joy through the screen, and doesn't let a day go by without reminding her followers to remember Breonna Taylor and all the other Black women like her. She speaks on culture, racial unrest, inequalities, happiness, fear, and all the other emotions we've all felt throughout this pandemic—but specifically shines a light on the way this country treats Black and Brown people. She offers a 360-degree view of who she is on the internet, and I find it helpful, beautiful, and inspiring every single day." —Hallie Gould, senior editor

Koa Beck, Author and Former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel

Koa Beck, Author and Former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel

Byrdie / Koa Beck

"I met Koa Beck through a mutual friend—at the time, she was the senior features editor at MarieClaire.com. She went on to become the executive editor of Vogue.com and the editor-in-chief of Jezebel. Astounding resume aside, it's her most recent venture that left a hard-cover size imprint on my brain. Her impassioned cultural critique, White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind, discusses race, empowerment, elitism, and inclusion in the United States—and offers a concentrated dose of research, thoughtful stories, and ugly truths regarding feminist discourse. This book should be required reading for anyone who has used the phrase "doing the work" over the past year. I am endlessly inspired by her work and refer back to various chapters in my own life all the time. Beck is a profoundly thoughtful teacher, and her book is one I'll keep close as I move through this industry." —Hallie Gould, senior editor

Ashley Graham, Model and Entrepreneur

Ashley Graham

Byrdie / Ashley Graham

"Ashley Graham is the human embodiment of everything Byrdie stands for—inclusion, joy, comfort, hard work, intelligence, and self-love. Last year, in particular, I watched in awe as she had open, honest, often difficult conversations on her podcast and taught helpful, unintimidating workouts on her social media. "I never worked out to a video where someone looked like me or had a body that looked like mine. I wanted there to be an accessible way for women and men with curvy bodies to see I move just as quickly as the person next to me," she told me during an interview earlier this year. She's a light in this industry, and her profound effect on the way we look at bodies is palpable and appreciated." —Hallie Gould, senior editor

Esi Eggleston Bracey, Chief Operating Officer, EVP Beauty & Personal Care at Unilever North America

Esi Eggleston Bracey

Byrdie / Esi Eggleston Bracey

"While it takes a village to make true, scaleable change, much of the beauty industry's major sustainability and inclusivity advancements are being pioneered by Esi Eggleston Bracey, whose vision, leadership, and example have inspired countless brand leaders. As the EVP and COO of Unilever's North America unit of beauty and personal care, Bracey infuses her passion toward social justice into every brand she touches, driving programs that impact women, underserved communities, and the planet. This includes Dove's creation of the CROWN Act (which prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle or texture), committing 30% of the profits from The Right to Shower toward mobile showers for the homeless, and Seventh Generation's immense sustainability efforts (by 2025, it's pledged zero waste and 100-percent bio-based materials and ingredients). The list (thankfully) goes on." —Leah Wyar, SVP & general manager

Alicia Scott, Founder of Range Beauty

Alicia Scott, Founder of Range Beauty

Byrdie / Alicia Scott

"Ever since Range Beauty popped up on my radar two years ago, I've been a part of the fan club. Frustrated with the lack of shade-inclusivity in beauty, founder Alicia Scott launched Range Beauty with $150 and a dream to create a clean makeup brand for Black women. And it's safe to say she's done that and then some. Since launching, Range Beauty has gone on to win several pitch competitions and is now sold in Target. Every time I speak with Scott, I'm left feeling inspired. She is a driven and dynamic beauty founder who is determined to leave the beauty industry better than she found it. And I can't wait to watch her do it." —Olivia Hancock, associate editor

 Lesley Thornton, Founder of Klur

 Lesley Thornton

Byrdie / Lesley Thornton

"There aren't enough words to properly capture my admiration for Lesley Thornton and Klur. What resonates most with me is the level of intentionality and care that is infused into the ethos of the brand. For nearly a decade, Thornton has worked as an esthetician and has helped others achieve skin wellness through minimalistic regimens. Through Klur, she has been able to provide simple and sustainable products to the masses. But, more importantly, she has been able to ensure that Black and Brown people feel celebrated and spoken to in the skincare industry. Bottom line: Thornton is a thoughtful voice in skincare that you can (and should) trust. It's been beautiful to watch how Klur is transforming the industry and amplifying inclusivity through it all." —Olivia Hancock, associate editor

Mahisha Dellinger, Founder of Curls

Mahisha Dellinger, Founder of Curls

Byrdie / Mahisha Dellinger

"Mahisha Dellinger is a beauty mogul. The launch of her brand Curls in 2002 made her one of the early players in the natural hair care space. Though she has nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Dellinger is still just getting started. Last year, she expanded her beauty footprint to include skincare with the launch of her brand Beau·ti·ceu·ti·cals. Her sustained success and continued commitment to innovation are what make her one of the most influential voices in the beauty space. But, I'm also deeply appreciative of her unwavering passion for empowering other young women and entrepreneurs in beauty. Through her initiatives like Black Girls Making Millions, Dellinger provides mentorship and shows others how they can make their dreams a reality, too." —Olivia Hancock, associate editor

 Zandra Cunningham, Founder of Zandra Beauty

 Zandra Cunningham, Founder of Zandra Beauty

Byrdie /  Zandra Cunningham

"Zandra Cunningham started building her beauty empire early. She launched her first beauty business when she was just 10-years-old. Now, at 19-years-old, Cunningham is the owner of Zandra Beauty. Her company makes all-natural bath and body products for young women (some of which are stocked in Target). For Cunningham, it's important to be able to empower and educate young girls through the power of wellness. That's why philanthropy is at the core of the brand. Zandra Beauty partners with local non-profits and donates a portion of its proceeds to help support the education of girls across the globe. Having made so many impressive strides in the beauty industry as a teen, there's no telling what Cunningham is going to accomplish in the coming years." —Olivia Hancock, associate editor

Tina Craig, Founder of U BEAUTY Skincare

Tina Craig, Founder of U BEAUTY Skincare

Byrdie / Tina Craig

"I 'met' Tina Craig about a year ago via a Zoom deskside to learn about her brand, U Beauty, and have been inspired by her ever since. I love that she uses her platform to promote diversity and speak loudly for social causes, including, most recently, the surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Her messaging with U Beauty is always incredibly inclusive (their latest campaign for the Arm Sculpt product was thoughtful and no shame-y, and I loved the age diversity in her campaign for the Smart Hydrator launch). She's passionate, brilliant, vulnerable, and just an all-around bad-ass. Plus, her TikTok beauty game is unbeatable." —Faith Xue, editorial director

Sharon Chuter, Founder of UOMA Beauty

Sharon Chuter, Founder of UOMA Beauty

Byrdie / Sharon Chuter

"Sharon Chuter is the epitome of a dynamic woman shaking up the beauty industry and changing it for good. Her line, UOMA Beauty, is a celebration inspired by the African diaspora, and Chuter herself is the spearheader of the #PullUpforChange challenge that held beauty companies accountable for diversity in their in-house teams, as well as the Make It Black campaign redefining the dictionary definition of the word "Black." I've had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person, and her passion is palpable. She's such a dynamic force, and her commitment to championing diversity in the beauty industry is so incredibly inspiring." —Faith Xue, editorial director

Related Stories