Like almost everything else going on in the world these days, the beauty industry is in complete overhaul mode with new brands pushing breakthroughs in the efficacy of products and upping the ante to create more organic solutions for women. It’s almost as if everything you once kept in your bathroom medicine cabinet and makeup bag is now obsolete. The new lipstick you want to use now? Kosås. Created by California native Sheena Yaitanes, Kosås lipsticks are the amalgamation of Yaitanes’ background as a science major and painter, and her entrepreneurial-focused drive (she also has a MBA). These weightless lip colors, made with organic oils and botanical extracts, (Green Rea, Rosehip and Grape Seed oils, Mango and Shea butters, and collagen booster Sweet Orange Oil) come in eight universally flattering shades and are quickly becoming cult favorites (Goop and Knockout Beauty are big fans). They feel, and smell, like heaven (I can attest). Whether you want something more natural (my favorites are Stardust and Rosewater) or dramatic (Thrillist is a perfect red, Dark Room a rich burgundy I can’t wait to wear this fall), there is a Kosås color for everyone. The most exciting news? Kosås is expanding. Next up are cheek palettes which will be available online in the next week or so.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to create a line of lipsticks; I’ve been in love with beauty since I was a child. My mom worked as a rep for beauty brands, and we always had boxes of makeup in the house. I was drawn to it like a magnet. I spent countless hours intimately learning every product from every brand, both from a performance and emotional perspective. By the time I was 12, I was making my own pots of lip gloss, or mixing custom nail polish shades. In college, I studied biological sciences, which involved a lot of chemistry. I studied abroad in Paris and was paired up with a family in which once of the daughters was also a biology major but at a school for cosmetic formulation. When she told me what she was studying, I knew it was my dream job. Her mother was a beauty editor for a French magazine. She saw my collection of beauty products, and showed me how to use them with artful restraint. After college, I had a vision for an easy-to-navigate, intuitive, and elevated beauty brand, and I knew I would be an entrepreneur. I chose a business school with a good entrepreneurship program, and got my MBA in 2010. I spent 3 years studying fine art and refining to relationship with color. I realized that I had trained myself in science, business, and art, and my skills were intersecting perfectly to pursue my dream of creating a beauty brand. Kosås was born shortly after that.
Why lipsticks? What sets Kosas apart from other lipsticks? What are the key ingredients? I think that my unique ability to create deceptively simple colors in the context of human skin, formulas that feel special, and a desire to connect with women is what sets Kosås apart. I learned about color when I studied portraiture. The way painters mix skin tones is by starting with primary colors; reds, yellows, and blues. Each primary can lean in a certain direction, for example, a red can be warm or cool, a blue can lean toward green. Endless shades can be made by mixing primaries. This is the physical blend. Then when these colors are layered over one another on the canvas, they begin to get depth. This is the optical blend. The way the artist mixes and layers these tones create a certain sensibility, and that is what makes their art unique. I bring this sensibility to every single shade that I make. The face is my canvas, and I take into account the colors that make up our flesh, and the different needs of all parts of the face. When creating formulas, I always follow two rules. The product has to be comfortable to wear and easy to use. Every aspect of the sensory experience matters so much to me. And all of this is because I’ve watched so many women over the years essentially give up on makeup because colors didn’t look flattering, they didn’t like the feel of makeup on their faces, or they simply didn’t know how to put it on. I’m inviting all those women back to the conversation.
What do you want women to feel like when they use your product? I envision Kosås as a destination where a woman can approach a display or go on the website, and easily, without frustration or any feeling of overwhelm, just know what to do and feel truly successful and supported by the process.
Three words that describe Kosås: Easy, modern, intuitive.
Three words that describe you: Patient, focused, intuitive.
What came easiest for you in the beginning? Developing the product itself. That part of the process is still the easiest and most fun.
Hardest part of starting out that no one warned you about? I had no idea I would be in the content creation business.
One of your attributes that helps you succeed: Perseverance.
Role model: Tony Robbins.
Best career advice you received: Know what you don’t know.
Your advice to a new entrepreneur: Define your point of view.
What motivates you? Inspiring my daughter.
What’s next for Kosås? We are applying our real-life beauty philosophy to the whole face.
Life goals: To find great joy in the smallest things.
Daily goals: To move forward.
Daily rituals: Vitamin C, followed by a tiny French press of coffee with a pat of butter and mucuna. Showering is my favorite ritual. It’s where I have the most moments of inspiration.
How do you unplug: I love spending time with friends and watching comedies.
Hidden talent/hobby: Cooking.
Favorite charity: I like to help people individually.
Do you collect anything? Crystals, because they’re neat.
Biggest splurge you don’t regret: Any vacation I’ve ever taken.
Favorite small indulgence: My snuggly blanket.
Scent that brings back memories: Sandalwood.
Lucky charm: A butterfly bracelet that my husband gave me.
Favorite hour of the day: 11 am. It’s my creative time.
Follow Kosas: Instagram.