At a time when many brands are capitalizing on trendy political and social movements, The Lipstick Lobby has taken it a step further by launching with activism as part of its DNA.
Funded by Studio71, a content studio that works with social influencers including YouTube star Lily Singh and actress Shay Mitchell, the cosmetics brand soft-launched online six months ago. With plans to debut a new shade of lipstick each quarter, it donated all the proceeds of its first launch, the bright pink “Kiss My Pink” shade, to Planned Parenthood. Sales of its latest shade, a deep red aptly dubbed Outrage, contributes $5 to the American Civil Liberties Union. Both products are vegan, animal-friendly, free of parabens and cost $19.
Outside of thelipsticklobby.com, The Lipstick Lobby’s products are sold exclusively at Opening Ceremony’s New York and Los Angeles stores.
“We knew we wanted to fill one specific retailer bucket that had a socio-political, edgy bent, and it wasn’t hard to land on Opening Ceremony,” said Davida Hall, the company’s vice president of lifestyle. Lots of phone calls, a flight to New York and “pitching her heart out” sealed the deal.
Model Amy Hixson stars in The Lipstick Lobby’s Summer 2017 campaign for “Kiss My Pink”
In the wake of the controversial election, the team at Studio71 and their respective talent were itching to use their resources for good, said Hall of the initial idea. Lipstick proved to be a sensible match in the brand’s goal to fight for women’s rights, which have come under increasing fire under the Trump administration.
“It’s so symbolic,” said Hall, of the choice. “It’s a clear and visible symbol of your mood, and highlights the need to speak out.” What’s more, she said, it’s an essential for most women today, allowing it to attract more than just a niche subset. “You’re going to buy it anyway, so why not buy one that supports a great cause?”
“They chose a beauty product that connects women instantly,” said Joyce Lee, founder of the Talk to Her consulting agency and a former merchandising manager for Opening Ceremony. “It’s helped redefine the meaning and functionality of lipstick as we know it, from a beauty product to a powerful symbol that has added value.”
The Lipstick Lobby’s “Kiss My Pink” shade
Celebrities and influencers were quick to hop on board, including Gloria Steinem, actress Elizabeth Moss and online beauty guru Isabel Bedoya, who preached their support. Although the brand specifically reaches out to people it believes will resonate with its voice, Hall said none of them are paid. “They have to really believe in our mission and want to be a part of it,” she said.
That goes for the crew on the brand’s photo shoots, too, including the fashion photographer Kate Powers, who lensed both of the brand’s campaigns so far pro bono. “It has to feel like it’s for and by the people who truly care about these issues,” said Hall. “We’re not interested in twisting anybody’s arm to be a part of it.”
Indeed, it’s been a particularly unique project for Studio71, according to Hall. Although it has a merchandising department to help its talent roster develop product lines, this is the first time its efforts have been unattached to a particular influencer. Sales, which the brand could not comment on, are not the main concern. “It’s not our bread and butter, but to not use our microphone for good would be a shame,” said Hall.
Model Elliott Sailors in The Lipstick Lobby’s Fall 2017 “Outrage” campaign
The Lipstick Lobby is also more authentic than the majority of brands out there which now claim to support causes, said Victoria Hoff, managing editor of Byrdie’s wellness vertical, The Thirty.
“So many brands slap a political statement on something just because it’s trendy, when in reality, they’re not actually contributing to the cause; they’re just pandering to people who are only engaged with different issues on a surface level,” she said.
Jennifer Davidson, the editor-in-chief of The Fashion Spot, agreed.
“In a time where many women feel powerless to stop the current threats towards issues we care about, it helps to feel like we’re fighting back, even in small ways,” she said.