Kristen Leonard,  a makeup artist and a product developer, started in the industry over a decade ago behind a MAC counter. From there she built up a freelance bridal makeup business that she stills run today. Leonard has also worked for two prominent cosmetic manufacturers, which is where she honed her product development skills and created strong relationships in the industry. In the last few years, She has been consulting for beauty startups, developing products and helping with brand development.

Kristen LeonardLeonard has always wanted to have a brand, but there was just never anything that moved her enough to go out there and just do it. Then the election happened. And she got real fired up. Leonard, a beauty industry veteran, launched just three weeks after she conceived the idea.

 

Fast And Furious

The Electoral College elected Donald Trump to the presidency. While this may not come as a surprise, the result represented a blow to women: Trump and Pence have strongly supported the pro-life movement, and women’s-health organizations like Planned Parenthood could very well suffer. But on the sunny side, now many people find a way to give back. The night after election results were announced Leonard had a couple glasses and made a donation to Planned Parenthood. And she started thinking, ‘One donation, what is that going to do?’” She decided to launch her own beauty brand.

In one night she came up with the colors, she thought about the design of the packaging and she named everything. She called her packaging guy and the chemist that she work with and she told them, ‘Okay, I want to do this and I want to do this fast.’ The next day, I signed up for Shopify, I built a site, and we’re doing it.” she says.

Leonard called her brand Beautiful Rights, which combines makeup and activism by donating 20 percent of all sales to groups supporting women’s and/or minority rights. When you check out you get to choose which charity you donate to. Originally, when Leonard started she was focused on Planned Parenthood—but the she realized that there’s so much more to women’s rights than just reproductive health.

Beautiful Rights founder Kristen Leonard

 

Beauty Brand With A Cause

Leonard did a bunch of research and now Beautiful Rights have six different organizations they donate to: Planned ParenthoodACLULambda LegalLegal MomentumEmily’s List, and MomsRising. So these organizations all touch on different aspects of women’s rights and she added MomsRising because, for her, it’s really important that women get paid maternity leave.

“I used to work for a manufacturer where there were tons of women. It was the beauty industry and there was no paid leave!” says Leonard.  Also, it’s important to note that the 20-percent donation to the organizations is on the sales of the product, not on the profits. Leonard decided on 20 percent because that’s, percentagewise, how much less women are paid than men.

“I can no longer sit back and expect our leaders to fight for what is important to women,” Leonard tells Allure. “It’s people like me, who have been complacent in regards to politics, that need to get involved and do our part to support what we believe in. I am taking what I do best, creating beautiful makeup, and making a difference with those skills.”

Beautiful Rights lipstick

So about that makeup.  At this point—just one lip gloss and two lipsticks are included in the line. But it’s quality over quantity here. Everything is cruelty-free, made locally in New York, and free of parabens and fragrances. The Gloss Ceiling lip gloss, a universally flattering champagne pink infused with avocado and coconut oils. Also available is a rosey-red pink lipstick playfully named Pantsuit Pink, an ode to Hillary Clinton’s professional outfit of choice and a natural pink shade dubbed Politically Pout. Like the gloss, both lipsticks are infused with hydrating oils (including jojoba, grape-seed, and coconut) to keep lips soft, even through a long day of protesting the patriarchy.

Each item retails for $24 at beautifulrights.com, or you can buy the whole collection, a set called Stronger Together, for $64. With uncertainty over what the next four years will hold, Leonard feels that as long as she can make beautiful makeup, she can continue to support women’s interests. She hopes to help shape the view that beauty isn’t always about being “pretty” or “girly.” It is about empowerment, confidence and self-expression. It’s really amazing what one swipe of lipstick can do to a woman’s mood … it’s kind of like war paint.

Beautiful Rights Stronger TogetherThe business is still small, but if more people did things like this, it adds up. “That’s why there were lots and lots of women marching after the inauguration. The election spurred this—but it’s making a lot of people wake up and realize they need to get involved.”  She expects more brands to come up and support important issues like women’s rights. The mission of Beautiful Rights is to inspire, empower and challenge the status quo.

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