Karissa Bodnar of Thrive Causemetics is Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Last month Glamour put out an article about the lack of women CEOs in the beauty industry. While beauty came out on top in terms of gender equality compared to other big-name companies, the number was only 29%. That means men are at the helm of the companies that choose the shade of a lipstick and the size of a mascara wand. This is where Karissa Bodnar comes in. She started Thrive Causemetics, a Los Angeles-based beauty brands that provides clean, vegan, 100% cruelty-free makeup. For Bodnar, it is important to be kind to animals, the Earth, and to women’s skin.

Thrive Causemetics Overnight Sensations Sleeping Mask Ingredients List - lavender, rosehp, lactic vegan acid, aloe, licorice, sugarcane
Thrive Causemetics Overnight Sensations sleeping mask ingredients list.

On top of that, for each product a customer (known as the #ThriveTribe) buys, the brands pledges to give another Thrive product (or a monetary donation) to women in need through its dozens of partner organizations.

Thrive Causemetics Products in front of a pink background

“For every product purchased, one is donated to help a woman thrive. One of the things that I really love about what we do is we’re not just donating the products; we also partner with our giving partners to teach the women how to use the makeup. Our mission is about so much more than makeup. It’s really about creating connections for women and creating a community, no matter what they’re going through.”

Celebrating its fourth year in business last month, Thrive made a $25 million product donation—the largest in its history. This went towards over 50 non-profit organizations, including Steps to End Domestic Violence (which fights for a violence-free world), Tenaciously Teal (which provides resources to the cancer community) and Mary’s Place (a refuge for those experiencing homelessness). Customers also had the option to nominate other charities close to their hearts.

The team at Thrive presents the American Red Cross with $50,000 for California wildfire relief

“I wanted to create a beauty company that was more than just selling makeup. Something that would truly make a difference in women’s lives,” says Bodnar.

Bodnar is breaking the glass ceiling being the founder and CEO of a cosmetics brand. There’s a lot of buzz about “your staff must be 50 percent women” or “your board must be 50 percent women,” and I’m very supportive of that movement. However, I would like to be hired or see other women get hired because we’re best for the job, not because of our gender. I believe that once people start to see women in powerful role and it becomes less of an obligation— “Okay, I’ve got 50 percent women, I’m doing okay”—things will change.

Founder of Thrive Causemetics, applying makeup on a female cancer patient
Founder of Thrive Causemetics, Karissa Bodnar, applying makeup on a female cancer patient.

The beauty industry is such an oversaturated place, with products claiming to do this and that, x, y and z. Thrive’s mission really sets it apart from other brands. And now, as I’m writing this on International Women’s Day, the gift of self-confidence and woman empowerment is incredibly powerful and should be celebrated every day. Especially for those of us going through unimaginable difficulties. This practice of responsive giving supports wide range of partners that help women fighting cancer, emerging from homelessness, and surviving domestic violence. These types of donations and acts of kindness can truly brighten someone’s day, adding some happiness and hope to their lives during the darkest times.

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