By JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Celebrating women should be a year-round event, but Women’s History Month is an opportune time to honor women who continue to create inspiring change.
Throughout the decades, women in fashion and beauty have paved the way for some of today’s most notable fashion industry power players.
Whether it’s running an empowering, inclusive cosmetics company or disrupting age-old narratives with an apparel brand that celebrates all bodies, there are women who are setting the tone for future female entrepreneurs.
Below, ABC News’ Good Morning America has given the spotlight to five women who are not only leading in the fashion space but are ascending to the top of the industry and helping others to succeed.
Felisha Noel is a Brooklyn-based women’s wear designer and the founder of the Fe Noel clothing brand that has been featured everywhere from Vogue to on the former first lady Michelle Obama.
Sitting at the helm of her own sought-after fashion brand, Noel has found an authentic way to marry influences of her Grenadian heritage with pristine glamour — and that influence is apparent in her creations.
“My team is primarily women and Fe Noel provides support and a safe space for inclusivity and to be a mother in a highly competitive industry,” she told GMA. “I’m inspired by them to keep pushing and to break barriers in fashion. When I rise, so do they. It’s a new day!”
She said her label is excited about an upcoming launch of clothing inspired by the essence of escapism and travel, and set to debut in May.
“We’ve been contained so long, we want to encourage high spirits and vibes,” she said.
Noel also said she finds pleasure in helping young women start their own businesses, and she’s able to do this through the Fe Noel Foundation which is a program for young women who are passionate about entrepreneurship.
Julissa Prado is the beauty and brain behind the self-funded, family-owned Rizos Curls product line that launched in 2017. After growing up with curly hair, and never being able to find anything that worked well with her hair type, she said she would always tell herself that one day she’d create the best product for other curly-haired girls.
Today, Prado’s product line carries products designed for defined, healthy, moisturized, frizz-free, voluminous curls, coils and waves. Since launching, she’s built a community of more than 226,000 fans and followers.
“The most rewarding part of being a woman boss is being able to prioritize what’s most important to me and not have to adhere to anyone else’s standards of beauty or business,” Prado told GMA. “The pillars of Rizos Curls are curls, community and culture.”
She continued: “It’s important to me that I uphold this with everything I do, and continue breaking barriers that create opportunities for other small businesses like my own.”
Pradao said her hair company has continued to grow at an accelerated pace, with shelf space online and in Target stores. The brand’s most recent release is a new Light Hold Gel that offers flexible, flake-free lasting hold and definition to hair.
“When creating new products, my priority is not only to ensure your curls look beautiful but that your scalp and curls are healthier with every use,” she said.
After years of trying to figure out products that are safe for her skin type as well as other melanin-rich tones, Alisia Ford was led to create Glory Skincare in 2020 which houses naturally-derived products formulated to help women of every skin hue.
Each product is free of the “”Toxic 20” (the 20 most questionable and harmful ingredients commonly used in skincare, according to the Environmental Working Group) and created alongside dermatologists who specialize in skin of color, Ford said.
“We are in the beginning stages of a multiyear journey addressing and educating the market about inflammation in the body and how it has a significant impact on the skin,” Ford told GMA. “In the years to come, we hope to address this problem more directly and also provide a solution for our community to turn to.”
Ford’s Glory Skincare was also most recently accepted into Sephora’s 2021 Accelerate program which is dedicated to building a community of innovative, inspirational founders.
“Internally, the Glory team is composed of all women of color,” said Ford. “I am so unbelievably proud of the business that my team and I have built. The fact that I am able to provide an opportunity for women of color in my community is something that I am really proud of. I created Glory to put women at the center of it all which is why I continue pushing forward every day.”
Deepica Mutyala is making a name for herself within the beauty industry. After going viral in 2015 for sharing a red lipstick hack for dark under-eye circles and building an engaging community focused on inclusive, diverse beauty, she went on to release her first Live Tinted 4-in-1 multistick three years later.
Live Tinted’s popular multistick can be used as a color corrector to balance any skin discoloration and dark spots under makeup. It can also be used as an eyeshadow, blush and lipstick. Now, Mutyala’s company offers a variety of other skin-enhancing products and merchandise.
Mutyala told GMA that Live Tinted’s loyal community is what keeps her going.
“They know that this brand is bigger than myself and even bigger than them,” she said. “We are doing this to change this industry for the next generation and beyond.”
The beauty maven shared that everyone can expect to see more curated products that are centered around Live Tinted’s community and initiatives that the team has been working on to continue its mission of increasing representation in the beauty industry and beyond.
Tamara Malas’ namesake apparel brand came into fruition only a few years ago and it is gaining the attention of many for its uniqueness and stylish aesthetic.
The clothing company carries everything from accessories and outerwear to dresses and undergarments that cater to sizes 6-32. It also continues to receive praise from body-positive advocates and influencers.
“The most rewarding part of running an inclusive clothing brand is that it’s about so much more than just clothes,” Malas told GMA. “It’s incredible how fashion connects us all in ways we may not even realize. One of my favorite aspects of being part of such a fun-loving community of women is being able to actually employ, collaborate and work closely with so many of them. My team is solely made up of extraordinarily talented ladies and there’s never a dull moment.”
Looking forward, the Tamara Malas brand has been putting a focus on accessibility — not only in size — but also in price.
“We wanted to create a world that all of our friends could participate in… a world of soft things,” she said. This idea has led to the label’s “Soft” collection which has items available all under $150.
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