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4 Female-Founded Beauty Brands With Inspiring Stories

4 Female-Founded Beauty Brands With Inspiring Stories

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were these household-name beauty brands.

The global success of the following female-founded companies is even more impressive when you consider the inspirational behind-the-scenes stories.

While each brand might ascribe to a different vision, the businesswomen at the helm are equally resilient, determined, and passionate.

Here are the extraordinary tales behind some of your everyday products.


Marcia Kilgore is something of a legend in the beauty and lifestyle space, having created not one but five world-renowned multimillion-dollar brands. But long before the serial entrepreneur behind Bliss, Soap & Glory, Beauty Pie, Soaper Duper, and FitFlop hit the big time, she was a broke student who arrived in New York City with $300 in her pocket. After struggling with acne herself, Kilgore underwent training to become a facialist and soon started offering treatments to friends in her apartment. She eventually opened Bliss Spa in the mid-1990s in a small studio when she was just 25 years old. The celebrity-adored spa was ultimately bought by LVMH, before being purchased for a reported $25 million by Starwood Hotels. The Canadian-born business force also sold Soap & Glory to Boots for an estimated $50 million.

marcia kilgore

Indie Lee

Organic farmer Indie Lee was a mom of two when she was told by her doctor that she had just six months left to live. As the medical professional told her she had a rare brain tumor, he asked, “What do you put on your skin?” In 2009, Lee survived a high-risk tumor-removal surgery (which ironically took place on Earth Day.) Post-surgery, she decided she would create a clean, safe, ethical, and holistic skincare line. Indie Lee is now stocked on major retailers including Bluemercury, Anthropologie, and Net-a-Porter.

She recently told Beautylish, “When I hear that my journey has touched someone’s life and prompted a change, I’m so honored...knowing we are educating and empowering others to live their healthiest life is so rewarding, since that was my vision for the brand from day one.”

indie lee

Jo Malone

When it comes to beautifully-packaged luxury scents, Jo Malone’s name remains on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The founder of the eponymous brand recently opened up about her childhood on the How I Built This podcast, revealing how she became the breadwinner in her household at the young age of 11, and how she single handedly cared for her ailing mother. When a teacher told her she would amount to nothing, she left school at 15 years old. A born innovator when it comes to products and scents, Jo Malone was already a sensation when Estee Lauder purchased the brand in 1999. In her best-selling autobiography, Malone also speaks about her experience with cancer and how she endeavored to rediscover her purpose after the sale of her beloved company (she ultimately created a second successful venture, Jo Loves.)

jo malone

Paula’s Choice

After battling acne and eczema her whole life, Paula Begoun tried everything she could get her hands on in order to achieve perfect skin. Frustrated, she thoroughly researched virtually every product formulation on the market and tried to understand the impossible-to-pronounce ingredients. As a result, she became an internationally-recognized expert and authority — ultimately authoring over 20 books on the subject of skincare and skin ailments. Oprah Winfrey even nicknamed her “the cosmetics cop!” Finally, taking matters into her own hands, Begoun launched the affordable and popular no-nonsense skincare line Paula’s Choice, now comprising over 75 products.

paulas choice


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