When Karissa Bodnar was growing up in the small town of Stanwood, Washington, it seemed everything was simultaneously within reach and very, very far away. This was during the ’80s and ’90s, a time when living in a small town meant local residents owned local businesses. The big box stores so commonly found today had also yet to arrive. “We did not have a Wal-Mart, we didn’t have big grocery stores,” Bodnar, the founder of Thrive Causemetics, told Girlboss. “It was a big deal when we got a McDonald’s, a huge deal.”
Growing up, as Bodnar said, “on a farm, on a dirt road,” meant that the closest makeup store was an hour away. For a makeup lover like herself, this meant Bodnar had to get creative at a young age if she wanted to experiment with beauty products. By the time she was 10 years old, Bodnar said she was using roses, spirulina and different waxes to create her own product formulas.
That interest in makeup only grew with time. Bodnar worked as a makeup artist to put herself through school at the University of Washington. When she graduated, she got a job working in product development. Working behind the scenes in the beauty industry seemed like the ideal job for Bodnar, who said she was “hell-bent” on climbing the corporate ladder when she graduated college.
Bodnar’s career path, though, differed starkly from that of her close friend, Kristy LeMond, who would later inspire the creation of Thrive Causemetics. “I went to go make makeup in a very corporate environment and [Kristy] decided to really dedicate her life to helping children around the world,” Bodnar said. Kristy, she said, went on to work in Chile and in Tanzania with orphans, before being diagnosed with cancer. She died at the age of 24. “She was just such an incredible person, who had a heart for others,” Bodnar said. “That’s really why I find her to be so inspiring.”
“I love the way that makeup makes women feel confident, but we have to do more as an industry.”
Kristy’s passing proved the catalyst for Bodnar to re-examine her role in the beauty industry. She said she remembers thinking, “Okay, I love the beauty industry, and I love the way that makeup makes women feel confident, but we have to do more as an industry.” Seeing the way that her friend lived inspired Bodnar to create Thrive Causemetics, a makeup company where every product purchased means one is donated “to help a woman thrive.”
“I started the company three years ago, really with the intention of creating a purpose-driven beauty brand that was kind to animals, the earth, and also women,” Bodnar said. That means the brand is vegan and cruelty-free, while products are free of parabens and sulfates. Leftover mascara wands, too, are donated to wildlife foundations to help clean animals affected during oil spillages.
And, most notably, the brand partners with different organizations dedicated to empowering women. Practically-speaking, this means Thrive Causemetics partners with national organizations like Dress for Success and the American Cancer Society.
As a 29 year-old entrepreneur, Bodnar began receiving push-back from men in the business world. They would rarely hide their shock at learning she founded her own company. “I’ve been told, ‘You need an adult in the room,’ by very high-profile men that are in business,'” she said. Other times, she’d hear, “You’re so good at that for a woman.”
To deal with the micro-aggressions, Bodnar says she focuses on the company’s greater mission. “Even if I feel scared in that moment to stand up for myself, I stand up for other women … I make it about the other women,” she said.
Dealing with the haters, though, isn’t always easy. That’s why we asked Bodnar about her favorite self-care methods and what her favorite products. Read for on for this week’s “Shortlisted.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
So often, getting started is the hardest part due to fear of failure. Whether it’s speaking up in a meeting, asking for a promotion or starting a business, we often talk ourselves out of “going for it” because it seems impossible. Once you take action and achieve what you previously deemed impossible, you know you can do anything you put your mind to.
Thrive Causemetics Buildable Blur CC Cream. I can’t live without it. Buildable Blur CC Cream gives you all the skin-loving ingredients you need as well as broad-spectrum sun protection. It’s so important to protect your skin! I always say that if you invest in serums and creams, but you don’t use SPF, you are throwing money down the drain.
Oprah’s Super Soul Podcast! This podcast changed my life. When I was first starting Thrive Causemetics, I faced a TON of rejection and it was really challenging not to feel discouraged. After a particularly tough day, I came across Oprah’s Super Soul episode with Tony Robbins where they discussed the concept of being grateful to be in the position to have the problem you’re having.
Hearing Oprah and Tony speak about that completely changed the way I approach obstacles in my life and business. Whether we are running out of inventory or outgrowing our office, I always remind myself to be grateful to have the problem we are having at the moment.
High-waisted jeans, sneakers and a comfy shirt.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Knowing your “why” is so important and reading the book is reminds me why I started Thrive Causemetics.
Everything is Love by The Carters. When I am working late at the office and I need to focus, I love to listen to Jay-Z and Beyonce. They have such a badass, empowering message that gets me through anything!
When I am feeling distracted, I take a walk to reset my mind.
Instagram! I am OBSESSED with talking to our customers so whether it’s Instagram Live, comments or DMs, I’m constantly chatting with our #ThriveTribe on social.
Jojoba Oil. I lather it all over my body and hair as a hydrating treatment. If I am working on the weekend I will leave it in my hair for a couple hours before shampooing it out.
We use jojoba oil is some of our best selling products like Infinity Waterproof Eyeliner because it is extremely bioavailable (meaning it absorbs quickly) since it is one of the closest oils to the oils we naturally produce in our skin.
Sneakers…I always say I can’t hustle in heels.
Exercising first thing in the morning. If I don’t do it before I go to the office, it won’t happen. Also, I am obsessed with a daily sauna session paired with a cold shower or bath. After a couple sauna sessions, the stress from the day literally melts away.