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IWD Female Founders: Clean Beauty Guru Josie Maran

This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating seven amazing female founders who’ve started companies based on the idea of helping out other women. Whether it’s a business for women, or to help support women (or both!), each one has a mission Team SN stands behind.

People often think that being a model is all fun, but when you have people piling makeup on your face all day or spraying and blowing and curling your hair again and again, you can’t help but wonder the effect that it’s all having on your wellbeing. That’s what happened to Josie Maran, who had a full modeling and acting career (she was on the cover of Glamour in 1998 and appeared on Dancing with the Stars in 2007) before finding her real passion: clean beauty. Which wasn’t even called “clean beauty” at the time, because no one was really talking about what went into makeup and skincare products, and whether ingredients were bad for you. That’s how much of a pioneer Josie is. 

She first began thinking about building her company when pregnant with her first daughter, and empowering women was a goal from day one. Josie Maran Cosmetics is not only eco-friendly, but also ethical—she works hard to ensure that the Moroccan women who harvest the Argan oil used in her products are paid fairly and free from corruption. So you can feel good about the products that make you look good too.

I always knew I would start something that would be a positive force for good.

Something Navy: How did you come up with the idea for your business? What was the journey like?

Josie Maran: When I was a model, I’d ask every makeup artist I worked with if there were any natural, healthy products they could use on me and the response was always, “No,” and that it was impossible to have both a healthy, high-performing product in one. So I decided to create my own line and try to prove them wrong. The journey was filled with lots of “No’s,” and “That’s impossible,” “We can’t do that,” or  just “Good luck.” But I was determined to create a better way to beauty—products that are good for you inside and out, and good for our beautiful planet too.

One of the first things I remember thinking as a young girl was how I wanted to help change the world—I wanted to make it a better place for all. I always knew I would start something that would be a positive force for good.

SN: What were some of the roadblocks and how did you overcome them?

JM: 15 years ago, when I started formulating my line, no one was asking the labs or chemists to try new things or to take the “bad stuff” out.  So I got a lot of push back from chemists who told me they weren’t bad for us, and that it was too hard to formulate in new ways. I persisted for three years before my first clean formula was finished. Today, I have launched over 85 skus and it’s been a major labor of love to find people who would experiment with me and get creative.

SN: Did you find that you encountered more challenges getting your business off the ground as a woman as compared to men in similar positions?

JM: When I started building my business, I invested every penny I had into it so that I could be my own boss and make my own rules—so that no one could tell me what to do. I went this route because I thought that no one would believe that a 24-year-old woman could pull this off. If I wanted to do this I was going to do it on my own. 

SN: How did you go about getting investors, or the “right people” to believe in your vision?

JM: I never had investors. I look for people who believe in my vision—and they are my teammates within my company. All the beautiful people who support me in creating my vision are the ones making this dream a reality.

SN: Did you find being a leader or commanding a board room came naturally to you, or was it a skill you had to learn?

JM: For me it’s been a skill I’ve had to learn. It’s a real test of my self-confidence, and how clear my vision is.

SN: What have been the most validating moments or milestones along the way?

JM: My dream for the company was to be big enough to be able to donate and invest in important issues that we believe in around the world. So when we were finally able to make a pretty hefty investment into women’s empowerment a few years back, I felt like I had finally made it. As a company, we continue to make large contributions every year to important causes like women’s empowerment and climate change, and my dream is to be able to do that forever.


SN: How do you balance your work and personal life? How do you self-care?

JM: Balance is the key to true success, so I cherish it and work hard at it. I have a practice of writing in my journal every morning—I call them my “morning pages.” These pages help me stay focused on what makes me happy and what I want so that I can consciously create those things (and non-things). I also meditate every morning to let go of thoughts, clear my mind, and just be. I owe my amazing life to these two disciplines.

SN: Who are your female role models?

JM: Women who go big! Rosa Parks, my mom, and Anita Roddick, who started The Body Shop.

SN: What do you wear when you need to feel powerful?

JM: I like to wear black to feel powerful. In my everyday life I rarely wear black. I save it for my “super power self” at work.

SN: What’s the best advice you ever received?

JM: Write down your dreams with as much detail as possible every day. Little by little, you will see the magic of the universe giving you a helping hand—whether it be someone who wants to help you, or money that “happens” to come your way—people and things show up to support you. The only thing you have to do is be clear about what you want. And then you shall receive it, my darling.​


Check out Josie Maran here.

PS: *These are editorially selected, but if you purchase, Something Navy may get something in return. Thanks.

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