This Ukrainian Beauty Founder Is Empowering Her Community Through Cosmetics

Natalia Iaromenko, founder of Lamel Cosmetics.

Natalia Iaromenko / Design by Tiana Crispino

The Hustle

Welcome to Byrdie's new series, The Hustle. We're profiling diverse, interesting women and female-identifying folks in the beauty and wellness industries who are usually behind-the-scenes. From the cosmetic chemists formulating your holy-grail serum to CFOs driving the biggest beauty companies forward, these women are the definition of career goals, and they're getting real about the journeys that led them to where they are—the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

Ukrainian native Natalia Iaromenko has always had big dreams and ambitions. Growing up in a small town near Kyiv, Iaromenko knew one day she'd find a way to share her creativity with the world. In 2012, she accomplished that goal. That year, Iaromenko launched Lamel, a beauty brand offering high-quality and affordable cosmetics. Through Lamel, Iaromenka strives to set new beauty trends and encourage self-expression. Over the last decade, the brand has gained global notoriety, amassing nearly 73K Instagram followers and several retail partnerships in Ukraine. However, there's still much more in store for Lamel.

Ahead, Iaromenko shares her plans for expanding her cosmetics company and how she's been giving back to the Ukrainian community during this trying time. Keep scrolling to get to know more about Natalia Iaromenko.

You often say Lamel was born in London but has a heart in Ukraine. Explain what that means.

When I came up with the idea to create a beauty brand, I consulted with a British creative agency. They helped develop Lamel's first collections. Lamel was launched and registered in Britain, but the people behind the brand's development are Ukrainian. I am Ukrainian, and I am very proud of my homeland and my Ukrainian team. They've helped make Lamel well-known worldwide and impress me with every step. 

Beauty is such a large industry. What made you want to focus specifically on decorative cosmetics?

Decorative cosmetics are there when we celebrate different occasions—silly or important. Lamel is about fun and being open to the world and its opportunities. I wanted to make women feel more confident with Lamel products. My second goal was to create cool, quality, and trendy products at affordable prices. Lamel allows young people to express themselves in different ways and experiment with our products. 

Get to know Natalia Iaromenko, founder of Lamel Cosmetics.

Natalia Iaromenko

Ukraine is facing challenging times right now. How are you helping your community? 

From the first days of the war, we have been helping the Ukrainian army financially. We bought body armor and first-aid kids for Ukrainian fighters. Now, we are working on launching our own charity fund for helping children of war. The purpose of establishing this fund is to support children who lost their parents during the war until their adulthood. The fund has already donated $100,000 (solely from the brand), and we plan to donate our profits from each sold product. 

Our soon-to-be-launched collection "Hope" is dedicated to our homeland, Ukraine. The products from this collection help women maintain their connection with Ukraine and express their support for Ukraine in the struggle for freedom.

How do you maintain a strong presence in international and local markets?

We are very flexible and do not adapt markets to our brand; instead, our brand meets the demands of consumers in specific markets. It is important for us to make our products interesting to the consumers, giving them opportunities for self-expression and experiments. 

It also becomes easier for us to enter markets when influencers and professional makeup artists warmly welcome us and popularize our products. Thanks to this, Lamel has become popular through word of mouth. This, combined with our marketing and PR efforts, opens doors to new markets. 

Walk us through the process of creating a new product. 

We always analyze trends in contemporary arts and life to understand current demands. This approach helps us create the concept of each collection. Each collection must contain unusual, bright, modern products our fans can experiment with.

We also have an important credo while developing the products—they should be compact and make as minimal environmental impact as possible. That's why we create many multifunctional products—this approach helps reduce consumption. It is also important that our formulas are not tested on animals, and most of them are vegan.

Walk us through a day in your life as a business owner and mother.

My day starts around 7 or 8 AM with a cup of coffee and playing chess to wake up my brain. I used to run in the morning. However, I have a four-month-old son who I have to feed at night. So, I do not have enough energy in the mornings to run, but I hope to return to running soon. After breakfast, I deal with work and humanitarian assistance issues.

The evenings are our family time. I like going for a walk or watching a movie with my 10-year-old daughter. I am also lucky to have a very supportive husband. We have our own businesses, which is why we coexist harmoniously. I go to bed at 9 PM, finishing my day by playing chess to distract myself from the hustle and fall asleep easily.

Natalia Iaromenko

Natalia Iaromenko

How do you handle the pressures of being a CEO?

I no longer deal with operational issues. As a business owner, I deal with strategic issues, which brings me real joy. I'm a final decision maker and approve the concepts of new limited collections, marketing activities, and the new markets we plan to sell in. I read a lot of business literature and fiction, which helps me with strategic planning.

Before the war, I also studied Stoic philosophy with a small group of businessmen. This knowledge helps me survive during these difficult times. The key principle of Stoic philosophy is to focus your energy on what you can influence and not react to what you can't change. For example, I can do nothing about the fact that a Russian tank hit the Lamel warehouse in Ukraine, and everything burned down. However, I can search for other markets for my brands, which is what we're doing.

What is the best career advice you've received?

"Nothing is impossible in this life, and all the limitations are in our heads."

When I got my first job, I worked without a salary for the first year. I was very insecure and believed I was not worth being hired at all. It was makeup that helped me to overcome this self-doubt. My desire to help women demand more from life and be more confident is why I connected my life with beauty.

Which Lamel products would you recommend to someone trying the brand for the first time? 

I'd recommend BB Blush ($8) or HD Face Contour ($8). These products have amazing shades and textures, are multifunctional, and are suitable for any skin color. I also love the OhMy Lash Mascara ($8). It is the only one that helps me as my eyelashes grow downwards, and I have never been able to find a mascara that can shape them. Our new Flash Lashhh Mascara ($10) is also great.

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