Art & Fashion, Beauty, Charity
Mar 1, 2024

Behind The Label: Thrive Causemetics

Make-Up and Charity? What is not to love. Enter the brand Thrive Causemetics and its CEO and Founder Karissa Bodnar.

Cutting out the middleman Thrive Causemetics gives back and sells straight to consumers with none of the big pharma issues we see in the make up industry today. For a little background on the brand you should know that Karissa Bodnar launched Thrive Causemetics, a vegan direct-to-consumer cosmetics brand, in 2015. She launched the company after a friend died of a rare form of cancer. This inspired Karrissa in what is today Thrive Causemetics. A brand that can be worn by people with compromised immune systems.

Image Courtesy: Thrive Causemetics

PPLA: Tell us a little bit about yourself for readers who are just finding out about Thrive Causemetics.

KB: I grew up on a dirt road in Washington. Our family lived on a farm with lots of animals. Our farm was sandwiched between a cow farm, a horse farm, and a sheep farm. I honestly thought everybody grew up that way. I remember as a girl there was never enough time to do all the things that I wanted to do, and I was always really social. I loved to challenge the status quo, and I was very inquisitive, always asking why certain things were the way they were. As I was growing up I thank my family that works of service were a large part of my childhood, whether it was weeding gardens at church, working in soup kitchens, or volunteering. That is what was normal to me. Then, I lost my friend Kristy to cancer. She was so young — only 24. I remember sitting at her funeral and being highly aware that she’d lived her life to the absolute fullest. While I was hell-bent on climbing the corporate ladder, she was dedicating her life to changing people’s lives. To give you a little more context she was teaching English to orphans over in Tanzania. She had her four year degree, she could’ve gone into anything she wanted but she chose a life of service. At that point I was a product developer in the industry but I was lacking that greater purpose, that mission. About a month after she passed away, I had the idea for creating a beauty company that was about giving back.

PPLA: What first grabbed your attention to want to start Thrive Causemetics? Why makeup? Why charity?

KB: Oh my goodness I wanted to work in the beauty industry since I was a kid. Literally since I was a kid, since I was 10 years old. And you know, the closest make up store, Nordstrom, was an hour away. And I loved going to the Nordstrom counter. So I really think that the scarcity of beauty products around me is what inspired me to want to be a makeup artist first. I’ve been creating beauty products since I was a kid. None that were commercially available (laughs) until I was 21. I really was an entrepreneur at heart, the town that I grew up in Stanwood was very entrepreneurial. I just always wanted to be in this industry but the idea of starting my own brand was not one that I aspired to at a young age. Being in the industry was what I wanted to do…I unfortunately lost a dear friend when I was young, like I said, and that is where the idea for Thrive Causemetics was born.

PPLA: Why the spelling of cosmetics as “causemetics”

KB: Well, it’s really this idea of something that’s bigger than beauty. It’s bigger than the makeup that we’re putting on our skin or the skincare that we’re using everyday. Of course, the products had to be really high performance and clean. From the very beginning I partnered with Oncologists and Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons to co-create our products. I started with one product one cause and its now grown to you know, hundreds of products and over 500 charities and 8 causes since I started. And, that is really a testament to our community. You know I started the business out of my one bedroom apartment. We’ve got an incredible team of people who make it happen every day. That’ll never be lost on me because I didn’t have a team for many years. The business was originally incorporated as “cos” but I kept writing these pitches and trying to get our products carried at retail and everytime I’d have these calls with potential investors I’d say “you know this is beauty with a cause.” The idea for ‘Causemetics’ really just came to me through that process. The name is alot like the color I’m wearing today. People would always say why is your brand turquoise? It’s not very premium for a luxury beauty brand, but I want a color that means something and I want a name that means something. We put the cause in ’causemetics’ and it’s a movement anyone can join. And the turquoise is turquoise because, it means joy. The color is scientifically proven to evoke joy, and that is really special because that is what beauty should do for us.

PPLA: What inspired the partnership today with La La Land Cafe?

KB: They work with Foster Love. We’re very active with the foster community. I was privileged actually to work with Foster Love for years both with our philanthropic work and I was a volunteer for them. La La Land Kind Cafe has 10% of sales today from the drink that you have (Thrive Turquoise, a Pea Blossom Matcha) going to Foster Love. They do remarkable things for the Foster community and we’re involved providing make up and skincare to these kids, and when I say kids I mean Young Adults. They’re you know 14 years old, 16 years old recieving our products. The reason why it was so important to us to partner with La La Land Cafe is because they’re so active with the Foster community, and today is you know Random Acts of Kindness Day. And that is why we exist. It’s so much more than just a coffee, or a lipstick, or even a mascara, it’s confidence. And that is why we’re passing out free mascara today, it’s to make you feel seen and to make you feel that you matter. And that’s what La La Land does everyday, they’re so mission aligned. The fact that we’re donating together to Foster Love makes me so happy because I’ve personally witnessed the impact make up can have on a kid whose biological parents are no longer in the picture, and how that can create connection. Whether, it’s prom or homecoming it creates connection. I was lucky enough to go with Foster Love to Disneyland, where they reunite siblings in foster care who might live you know one in Utah and one in Alaska but they get to meet together because of Foster Love and they do this trip twice a year once in Disney World and once in Disneyland. These funds go to something that is so special in the Foster community.

PPLA: You products are also so clean. What committed you to creating them that way?

KB: At the core I’m the consumer, and I want clean products. I don’t want to be putting toxic chemicals on my skin. And to me, I am so committed to that even with the causes we support and our first cause was Cancer. The idea of everybody deserves to have clean beauty that’s effective and I also love how being vegan and clean forces us to challenge the traditional ways of creating products. As a scientist myself I think it’s really fun too. Our mascara for example, alot of mascara’s have bees wax in them and ours can’t because it’s vegan. So throwing out that rule book really creates revolutionary technology in the industry. I think not using sulfates in our products is a fun challenge like using spirulina instead for example, it challenges you. Also around the eye area being an ophthalmologist recommended brand we also have to be sure we’re using clean products that are also FDA approved as safe around the eyes.

PPLA: How do you go about deciding which causes become the 8 Pillars of Thrive Causemetics?

KB: It’s the best! It’s really community driven, we have an Impact Committee. Through the pandemic we we’re doing online but before it was in person and we’re going back. But our consumers have always had a say in who we’re giving to. Believe it or not a decade back it was really hard to find foundations (charities) that wanted to accept beauty products. It was a new thing for them. We’ve worked with Ronald McDonald and the different children hospital networks throughout the United States. I always say that there is no charity too small or too large for us to work with. We’ve donated over a million products to Dress for Success multiple times. After Breonna Taylor was killed we partnered with her family to launch the Breonna Taylor Lagacy Endowment. We committed 100k. We’ve named the first recipient of the scholarship and she’s about to graduate nursing school. We really believe in responsive giving and being agile in what our community is asking for. The Impact Commitee gets together twice a year and then we review them. We break up into groups where we review the video applications and of course we have a full team that vets they are a 501c3. That is how they are chosen.