Chances are that JoAnn Fowler has played a part in a face that you’ve seen on TV. Her 20 years in the film and TV industry as a makeup artist includes six years on the set of The L Word. Cliff note to Twilight fans: She recently headed the action units for New Moon and Eclipse. It would be easy to color Fowler’s career complete with an Emmy award nomination and two CINOMA nominations for Best Makeup, but Fowler hasn’t stopped there. She also has a free downloadable makeup course and her own line of organic and ecoLuxurious beauty products (the definition of which she later explains), offered through her company, Sappho Cosmetics. 1-800-RECYCLING talked with Fowler about starting Sappho Cosmetics, her research regarding synthetic chemicals in cosmetics and personal care items and, of course, her time in the entertainment industry. 1-800-RECYCLING: If you had to fill in the blank, Sappho Cosmetics was started because ____, what would you say? Did making environmentally friendly products play a big part in your desire to start your own company? Fowler: The idea for Sappho Cosmetics Inc. was started because one day an actress on The L Word, Mia Kirshner, came to me and said, “JoAnn, I no longer want to wear any cosmetics that contain parabens.” I said, “OK,” and then asked what a paraben was. Mia explained, and I then started my own research. Before long, I knew that I could not, with all consciousness, continue to be a makeup artist if I could not offer safer cosmetic alternatives to those I work with. 1-800-RECYCLING: Did making environmentally friendly products play a big part in your desire to start your own company? Fowler: Yes. Making products free of all synthetic chemicals that could stand up under the scrutiny of HD and film became an obsession, and making those products as environmentally responsibly [as possible] went hand in hand. Our boxes are recyclable, our pressed eye shadows are sold in biodegradable bags, and we promise to keep reducing our footprint and to remain a positive presence in this world.
1-800-RECYCLING: With 25 years of experience in film and television, how has being a makeup artist to the stars made you more careful about the chemicals in the products that you use? Fowler: As a working makeup artist, I am thrilled to put chemical-free makeup on everyone, be it stars or regular people. The fact that many actresses and actors wear Sappho while filming and in their real lives is terrific. It is through them and makeup artists that women will find out about Sappho. That means healthier women and men, and healthier babies, too. What could be better than that? 1-800-RECYCLING: EcoLuxurious makeup, when I hear it, it makes me think glamor without the grime of harsh components. Why is it important to you to make sure that stylish and sustainability go hand in hand? Fowler: It is important to marry style with sustainability, as there is no reason in the world that people should have to put themselves at risk just to look and feel the best they can. Organics as a whole for many years were thought to belong to the “quote-end-quote hippies,” but now more and more people are figuring out that organic is the only alternative lifestyle worth living. These women want to keep their cosmetics, but they don’t want to put petrochemically derived preservatives on their bodies, and who can blame them? Women deserve the best products available, and being natural is not synonymous with being boring anymore. Just because someone wants to take care of him or herself does not mean they can’t be cutting edge. It is time ecoLuxurious beauty products come into their own and Sappho is leading the way! 1-800-RECYCLING: What is next for Sappho Cosmetics? Fowler: Right now at Sappho, we are planning to come out with some new pressed eye shadows sans synthetic chemicals. Extensive research is being done to develop non-paraben eye and lip pencils that do not have components from China. This is proving to be a daunting task, but I am confident we will find the right manufacturer — probably in Europe. 1-800-RECYCLING: What would you say to someone who wants to start their own makeup company with products that carry an eco-friendly focus? Fowler: Do lots and lots of research first and make sure you can afford the cost of being eco-friendly. Even now in the market place, finding companies that are reasonably priced in terms of eco-friendly packaging and print material is difficult, so choose wisely. Take your time developing your product.