7 international beauty brand founders who hero their homelands and heritages
There’s no place (to build your brand around) like home
Editor / October 11 2022
Listen, we love a classic hit of Aussie Kakadu plum as much as the next patriotic glow-chaser, but by no means are we loyal to our home nation’s offerings alone.
Because (and go with us here) as sublime as a classic plate of fairy bread is (and its quality truly cannot be overstated), we’d take a smorgasboard of international snacks over just the one any day. We want a beauty product pot luck to ensure we’re getting the greatest of everything!
Every country offers its own sacred rituals and native ingredients, and by borrowing wisdom from a global lineup of beauty pros, we’re able to glean the world for the fanciest formulas on the planet.
Like, not to be dramatic but while the aforementioned Aussie plum is right up there, we may never have even known another secret source of vitamin C hailed from the same nation as Rihanna if she hadn’t led us right to it. And what a dull-skinned shame that would have been!
So whether they’ve been inspired by where they were born and raised, made a move and discovered the self-love strategies they’d been searching for, or had beloved relatives teach them the beauty secrets of their ancestors, here are seven amazing women whose brands allow us to snap up a slice of the countries they’ve lived in and loved…
The brand: Fenty Beauty
The founder: Rihanna
The hero: Barbados’ beloved Bajan cherry
Let’s kick off with an underground brand and a practically anonymous founder, shall we? Contain your snickers – Rihanna is, well, Rihanna, and Fenty is as iconic as beauty brands come. But one of the greatest things about the singer/actress/beauty mogul (and it’s obviously a mighty long list) is that she’s chosen to share her well-deserved worldwide fame with the ‘Barbados cherry’, a hero ingredient from her home country. Featured throughout Fenty’s range, and specifically starring in the Fenty Skin Total Clean’R Remove-It-All Cleanser, ($38 at Sephora), the ‘Bajan cherry’ (as it’s known in Barbados) is an antioxidant-rich fruit that Rihanna used to nick from her neighbours trees growing up (to treat colds, no less). It’s not just in there for nostalgia’s sake, though – the stuff is potent as hell, standing strong as one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C in existence (even outpowering oranges). Good on you RiRi – a radiance-reviving homage to one’s home is our very favourite kind!
The brand: Dr Barbara Sturm
The founder: Dr Barbara Sturm
The hero: Germany’s rigorous results-driven ingredient laws
Nobody takes the science of skin care more seriously than renowned German skin care powerhouse Dr Barbara Sturm – her ‘no BS’ approach to beauty has been making worldwide waves for years now and she credits it to Germany’s rigorous ingredient laws. ‘Marketing’ and ‘aesthetics’ aren’t really factors in G-beauty – results are king, cutting-edge technologies are key, and ultra-clean, high-concentration active ingredients are the only options considering the high amount banned in Europe (regardless of the fact they fly free within US formulas). These factors (plus the expertise/time/equipment that goes into building the formulas) can mean her products cost a pretty penny, but know that you’re not paying for the packaging or the brand name (even when it’s as esteemed as Sturm’s), but genuinely the formula inside. You’re getting something crafted by one of the nation’s brightest scientific minds to gift you one of your nation’s brightest faces. The proof is in the A-list endorsements – a vitamin C blend so good (AKA so stable and efficacious) that it hooked Hailey Bieber in as Sturm’s personal hype woman has to be the best in the biz. Well, that’s The Good C Serum ($217 at MECCA) for you!
The brand: Espressoh
The founder: Chiara Cascella
The hero: Italy’s classic espresso ritual
Superior espresso is practically synonymous with Italy, and so it makes perfect sense that Espressoh founder Chiara Cascella channelled her country’s coffee culture into an aptly named beauty brand. Boasting a proud ‘made in Italy’ stamp, the line of cosmetics is all about turning away from over the top products, and returning to a refined application ‘ritual’ that warrants a moment of slowness the same way a good beverage break would. Italian-inspired simplicity is the name of the game – why complicate something when it’s of the highest quality? While caffeine seed oil serves as a fitting star ingredient, its Italian nature comes through in this very concept: just like the real thing, ‘Espressoh’ is to be savoured and kept simple, focusing on a few (excellent) ingredients and a limited amount of frill-free products such as The ABC Concealer ($40 at Sephora). Even the lipsticks are hydrating enough to be worn whilst enjoying a real espresso (and the coffee scent will definitely add extra kick to the experience).
The brand: 54 Thrones
The founder: Christina Funke Tegbe
The hero: Africa’s clean beauty creation
Growing up in Texas, shea butter deliveries from her aunt in Nigeria kept Christina Funke Tegbe connected to her African heritage. But after a crossroads in her life pulled her back to her family’s motherland, she found herself immersed in Africa’s true sense of ‘clean beauty’ like never before. After all, African communities have been using masks, ointments, and other treatments pulled from the earth for generations upon generations, long ago discovering the nourishing powers of plant botanicals ranging from roots and herbs to oils and butters. It was this reminder of the resourcefulness of the African people that propelled Funke Tegbe to create 54 Thrones (a line of sustainably-made skin care products whose name is a nod to Africa’s 54 countries). The ethos? To put all the goodness the land provides to great use, and not be wasteful in any way. And when the land happens to gift you powerfully potent ingredients like moisturising marula oil, antioxidant-rich blue tansy flower, calming Kigela fruit and shea butter nut, why would you want for anything else? So if you’re suddenly feeling the need to wrap your body in Africa’s best, allow a classic like the 54 Thrones Big African Beauty Butter ($38 at 54 Thrones) to prove the potency of age-old clean beauty.
The brand: Glow Recipe
The founders: Christine Chang and Sarah Lee
The hero: Korea’s handed down hydration hacks
Glow Recipe’s fruity beauty line takes the title for ‘most aesthetic skin care brand on the planet’, sure, but the efficacy is equally as impressive. That’s down to the fact that founders Christine Chang and Sarah Lee built it around the beauty bones of their Korean heritage. Their grandmothers’ go-to trick when they were kids? Watermelon rinds rubbed onto heat rashes during hot summer months to cool and calm the skin. Fond memories of that very soothing effect would go on to serve as the starting point for their (now famous) Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask ($67 at MECCA), and the rest is, well, healing, hydrating, fruit-heroing history. That’s not all, either – the entire range actually centres around the cornerstones of the Korean beauty philosophy of ‘prevention first’ and the importance K-Beauty places on ‘layered hydration’. And honestly, if we’re doing our skin concern-thrwarting work with a serum that smells like plum and a moisturiser that feels like a banana thickshake, we shan’t be complaining – layer us up.
The brand: Sol de Janeiro
The founder: Heela Yang
The hero: Brazil’s body positivity practices
Yang may have been born in Korea (quite the foundation for a gig as a beauty brand founder, if you ask us), and spent several years in New York, but it was the journey of moving to and making Brazil her new home that inspired her big beauty venture. What she noticed on the shores of Brazil was a ‘head to toe’ approach that sparked the idea for Sol de Janeiro, AKA what would go on to become both Hollywood and Instagram’s favourite body care brand. After a trip to the beach (where she initially wasn’t fully feeling herself), Yang witnessed women of all shapes, colours and sizes caressing their bodies with luxurious oils and creams in the name of self-love, and she fell in love with the way Brazilians loved, embraced and nourished their skin without judgment. Wrinkles? No worries. Cellulite? Not an issue. Every body deserved the very best treatment! She then decided to bottle that approach (or rather, load it into spritely sun-hued tubs), building a brand that heroed her host country’s habits while also encouraging and allowing the rest of the world to get in on the action. And that they did. Case in point? The globally beloved Brazilian Bum Bum Cream ($67 at MECCA), of course.
The brand: Uma Oils
The founder: Shrankhla Holecek
The hero: India’s ancient Ayurvedic practices
After relocating from India to Beverly Hills to continue her education, Shrankhla Holecek was confronted by the misguided misappropriations of Indian rituals and Ayurvedic practices making the rounds overseas, and decided to show the world how to do it right. Enter Uma Oils, a brand that serves as the culmination of both her personal days spent immersed in the rich tradition of holisitic medicine and the 5000-year-old wisdom of Ayurveda. Built from rare, precious botanicals grown in her homeland of India, Holecek’s range is all about delivering pristine ingredients, rich heritage and centuries of knowledge to beauty-lovers in a way that allows them to adapt ancient Ayurvedic principles into their everyday lives, wherever they may live. And hey, just in case you had any queries about the quality of these luxurious blends, allow the fact that Holecek’s ancestors once used their early iterations to tend to the Indian royal family to answer them. It’s safe to say the carefully handcrafted formulas (with the Absolute Anti Aging Body Oil [$127 at Sephora] being a personal favourite of ours) are as glorious as Ayurvedic oils get.
Delaney Loane is BEAUTYcrew's Editor (and resident cateye connoisseur). An expert in everything from sensitive skin solutions to lip oil options that won't leave your hair permanently attached to your face, her words have also appeared across mastheads such as ELLE and marie claire.