Beauty Brand Publicist Launches Her Own Line Of Products Designed To Disrupt The Makeup Aisle Status Quo
GIRL TALK HQ: Beauty Brand Publicist Launches Her Own Line Of Products Designed To Disrupt The Makeup Aisle Status Quo
What do you do when you are the go-to PR company for numerous beauty brands and clients, and see there is something missing in the market that you know how to address? Launch your own collection, of course!
That’s pretty much how Tess Finkle, bossy lady extraordinaire, went about creating her company Y Cosmetics. Tess is also the founder of a publicity firm Metro PR, which sits at the forefront of modern culture. Having perfected her area of expertise over the past 17 years, Tess wasn’t done climbing her own success ladder, and launched Y Cosmetics with a mission to allow consumers to question what they know about beauty standards.
Visiting their home page you are instantly given messages such as “question everything” and the option to look through a list of daily affirmations attached to certain products, designed to make you think deeper about your own approach to self-worth and beauty. We had the opportunity to speak with Tess to learn more about her career in PR, what is missing in the world of makeup, and what she hopes consumers will be most empowered with when they purchase an item from Y Cosmetics.
Before launching Y Cosmetics you founded Metro PR, which is primarily run by women and represents some of the top brands and influencers in the world. How did you get started in PR?
Metro is, in fact, run by only women. Myself (Founder) and my partner, Laura Michael (CEO). The honest truth is, I didn’t even know how to write a press release when I started Metro in 2006. It’s worth calling out that I was always hustling as a kid (I am 35 years old now), like selling Girl Scout Cookies at a very young age…when I wasn’t even a Girl Scout. I would see some girls too shy to pedal their cookies, and I thought it would be fun to help them. My early approach to PR was not too far from this mentality. I guess I love the idea of living at the intersection of helpful and shameless! Lucky for me, I met the very dignified and tactical Laura Michael about 1.5 years into Metro and she taught me how to write a press release and was (and still is) the Professor Henry Higgins to my Eliza Doolittle. We took any crumb of business we could find (and I am talking as random as a dude you have never heard of that ran weekly Drag Queen Bingo in West Hollywood, but he was a trust-fund kid and the checked cleared, so…) and managed to turn it all into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Having been immersed in helping make other beauty brands a success for many years, what made you want to launch your own brand?
Equal parts curiosity and frustration. I am addicted to challenging myself and jumping off proverbial cliffs. Honestly, taking risks gives me a high. I have made so, so many mistakes over the last 17 years of working in the entertainment industry (FYI – writing “17” just now made me think of 18 year old Tess and literally laugh out loud…what a mess), that pushing myself to use the knowledge I have gathered from crashing into walls over the course of my career officially graduates them into “valuable lessons”. Mistakes can be a beautiful thing, it’s up to you. The “frustration” comes from realizing that if you own a makeup bag, you’re probably marginalized on a daily basis. It became clear to me that I needed to turn this frustrating realization into something that addresses this fact. I literally sold my house to fund Y, that’s how annoyed I am by this.
The first thing that struck us about the mission behind Y is how you are operating bringing some much-needed feminism into the beauty world. Why was this important to you?
I want to live in a world that is led by predominantly (AKA, exclusively!) women. I’d like to submit exhibit A: COVID-19. The countries that are statistically faring this pandemic the best are all led by women. New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, Singapore, Bangladesh, Ethiopia. The list goes on. Women are natural born leaders. I am as sure of this as I am sure that Lauren and Cameron from Netflix’s “Love is Blind” are going to last forever. I am surrounded by women every day and too many of them seem less clear on their own strength and abilities to lead vs. what I see when I look at them. The beauty world offers an incredible opportunity to ensure that every woman has an inextinguishable connection to her power.
What were some of the glaring problems you witnessed within the beauty industry yourself?
I would not single out the “beauty industry” when I say that it’s hard to encounter young girls that don’t feel worthy unless they physically appear a certain way. I work in media too. There are a lot of factors at play here. I think of myself at age 12 in the mid ‘90s. Of course, print magazines existed and I thought Mariah Carey was so pretty via the insert of my “Butterfly” CD. (She is still gorgeous!). I never once had the thought that I need to look like Mariah Carey to feel OK about myself. I love that new brands are emerging that are less about contouring your face and more about celebrating your face. I consider Y to be part of this shift.
What is the significance behind the single letter in the name?
Who has time to write out “Why” every single time?! We live in an era of Y, and I am OK with that. Also, “Why” is maybe my favorite word. It’s a word that will help you move forward when you’re stuck. Each product from Y Cosmetics will have the word “Why” on it. Beauty brings us in front of the mirror, why not take the reflection further and think about whatever it may be that is keeping you from being the ultimate boss?
With products that are vegan and cruelty-free, what are some of the deeper questions you are wanting consumers to think about when they buy Y Cosmetic products?
We are vegan, we are cruelty-free and we are paraben-free. Beyond all of these things, we are starting a new lane in the industry (and when I say “we,” I mean myself and my husband Chase Carstensen who is helping me) called “Responsible Beauty”. This is a new seal that we want to standardize across the beauty industry. It means we understand that as a beauty brand it’s a HUGE deal to be part of someone’s day, so we need to use this time with the people using our products to have a positive impact on their spiritual and mental wellness. This is the responsible thing to do.
What are some of your favorite products and inspirational sayings attached to them in your collection?
We have a collection called Why Eye: Love You. It’s a family of liquid eyeshadows and eyeliners featuring shade names that aren’t shady. Each product in this collection offers an Affirmation as its shade name. There is a lovely, super iridescent blue shadow (that’s also a cute cheek highlight!) called “I am Worthy”. I love thinking about what happens when a woman puts on “I am Worthy” everyday.
Finally, what makes you a powerful woman?
That same thing that makes YOU a powerful woman, babe. We are out here, advocating for women and being passionate AF about it.