The best stories coming out of the pandemic are forward-looking, starring ideas that aim to move Canadians not just back to where we were but onward to a much better place. The fashion and beauty industries were already in a state of flux, forced to adapt in real-time to consumers voicing their desire for products that more accurately reflect real women. We come in different sizes, colours, and abilities. We also do not want to look 20 forever.
This is a subject MYKIGAI wanted to explore for their first beauty event. MYKIGAI is an engagement platform to promote purpose and profit from career and life experience for an active 50+ community. As part of their service, they curate talks and profile ambassador experts. From renowned thought and culture leaders to members of their community, they explore what gives meaning to what they do and inspiring lifestyle ideas.
This past May they hosted an intergenerational online talk on a new concept – 19/99 Beauty. “Exploring beauty from the intersectionality of age seemed like a very modern proposition and a rebuttal of outdated ideas,” explains Laura Minquini, founder of MYKIGAI.
Camille Katona and Stephanie Spence are the co-founders of 19/99, a brand they describe as “inclusive of all ages, and challenges the industry’s current, flaw-focused, idea of aging.” The duo has a decade of experience in the beauty field, having worked together on Bite Beauty from start-up to its launch of a flagship store in New York and then its sale to European conglomerate LVMH. They went on to launch Red Earth Beauty in conjunction with U.S. retailer Target last year.
The mission of 19/99 mission is well defined – “to start a multigenerational dialogue to break down the idea of age-appropriate and narrow the generational beauty gap.” In other words, the focus is on makeup with an inclusive message, with formulations and colour palettes that can work for everyone. The ageless vision of 19/99 was developed in conjunction with legendary branding guru, Diti Katona (also Camille’s mom) of Toronto-based Concrete Design Communications, and celebrity makeup artist Simone Otis, also a founding partner at Bite Beauty. The partnership represented a multigenerational launch for a multigenerational brand.
Otis has seen it all. Based in Toronto, she has travelled the world with her makeup kit, working with international photography legends such as Annie Leibovitz and Francesco Scavullo, leading publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair, plus behind the scenes at shows for top names in fashion from Balenciaga to Marc Jacobs. She has also worked with a dizzying array of A-list celebs, including Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek, and Rita Ora.
From those work and life experiences, Otis was left with a feeling of frustration with the status quo in the beauty world: “You are either ‘eccentric’ and present yourself with wild colour and bold clothes and makeup, or you are impossibly chic, minimalist in your colour choices and the cut of your clothes and only choose the ‘simple classics’ as rule for your makeup. And these two choices are mostly shown to us wrinkle-free.”
She doesn’t see herself in either of those polarities. “Why just the two choices? Can we be more?” Otis asks.
That desire to open up the beauty industry’s “ideals” aligned perfectly with Spence and Katona. “The concept of anti-aging also makes no sense. Aging is inevitable. Why do we have to try to stop it?!” say the 19/99 founders. “Who decided that a wrinkle was the ultimate flaw? We want women of all ages to have fun with beauty, and in order to do this, the out-dated, flaw-focused take on aging needs to evolve.”
One of the taglines for the brand is “unprescribed.” To Otis, this means there is no rule or barrier to what you should do or can do when it comes to your makeup. The options should not be fewer because we have wrinkles, or don’t look a certain way.”
Cheers to a future of ageless beauty and evolution!