Beauty Brand with a Conscience

Alexandria-based Haughty Cosmetics creates makeup in shades of awareness.

Alexandria-based Haughty Cosmetics creates makeup in shades of awareness.

Photo by Erick Gibson.

One cold night while preparing for a ‘dress-up’ party, Michelle Coyle Edwards came to a realization. “I was doing this crazy make-up and I said to my roommate, ‘I would just be happy being a makeup artist. I don’t know why I am studying so hard!’” After repeatedly writing business plans for practice at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, she decided to write one for a company that married the idea of selling makeup and raising money for charity—Haughty Cosmetics.

Edwards joined forces with product and research manager Elena Ahn to create the ‘Perfect Finish’ lip gloss, which became a hit after a lengthy period of trial and error to get the consistency and scent (a ratio of vanilla and mint) just right. Now with over 20 shades and recently added eye shadow palettes, the two have created a winning formula that meets their main criteria: the empowerment of women.

In addition to ensuring that they sell universally flattering shades, the company also donates 50 percent of all proceeds to domestic violence awareness for teens and prompting dialogue about a typically taboo issue.

As a company created ‘by women for women,’ Haughty Cosmetics rejects the notion that sex sells. While many must-have products have explicit names (like the cult fave Nars ‘Orgasm’ blush), they have selected inspirational titles like ‘Speak Up’ and ‘Overdeliver’ for their items.

“There are facets to women beyond sex,” says Edwards. “We realize that you can be pretty and smart.” —Angela Bobo

Photo by Erick Gibson.

Each month get behind the scenes and find out what everyday life is really like for local VIPs.

(January 2014)

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