Sappho New Paradigm: One of Canada’s First Clean Beauty Brands


Sappho New Paradigm challenges our view of business and beauty.

“I couldn’t have had this conversation with you 10 years ago,” says JoAnn Fowler, founder of Sappho New Paradigm, as we discuss the clean beauty movement. “People would say you’re just mad, and yes, I’m mad.”

As a former makeup artist who worked in film and television for 30 years, Fowler approaches everything with the fervor and reverence of a creative, including business. “I’m kind of the most unfortunate person to be in business because I have a very socialist outlook and I’m a feminist and I created this so women wouldn’t be lied to,” she says. about the business she’s building from the ground up, twice.

Fowler was first introduced to the concept of clean beauty by Mia Kirshner on the set of L word in the early 2000s. No one in North America was talking about clean beauty at the time, but Kirshner lived in Paris and there was a movement in the EU to ban more than 1,300 toxic chemicals found in articles of personal care.

Kirshner didn’t want Fowler to apply paraben-based makeup, which set Fowler on the path to researching the effects of cosmetic ingredients on the body. She phoned Halle Berry’s personal makeup artist, Norma Hill-Patton, asking for resources and where to find clean beauty brands in Canada (there were none). Hill-Patton directed Fowler to the book Not just a pretty face.

“One of the first paragraphs talks about all these studies that were done on people’s blood, and they found over 387 toxic chemicals in the blood, including 1970s PCBs, parabens, phthalates and endocrine disruptors,” Fowler recalls. “Test subjects were newborns across the United States in 2004, still in hospital.”

“It was really the moment. It was this book. It was this paragraph. It was the realization that what we do in our environment is part of our body, part of the environment, and I felt just said, “I can’t do this anymore,” she recalls.

What is Sappho New Paradigm?

Sappho New Paradigm is a two-part project that aims to set a new paradigm for business and beauty. Fowler values ​​transparency in both above all else. She builds relationships and has conversations with her retailers who are predominantly women-led businesses and Sappho is working to counter the prevailing attitude that ‘it’s just commerce’ because for many it’s not is not true. “At some point, we’re going to pay for this disconnect,” Fowler points out. She thinks the conference room and the house are not as separate as people would like to believe.

One of Sappho New Paradigm’s retailers is the Detox Market which reviews over 1000 clean beauty products each year and selects only 2% of submissions based on ethical business practices and a long list of banned toxic ingredients. “They don’t teach that in schools,” Fowler says. This distorts our perception of how our makeup works or even how much it costs. A three-dollar makeup product has a history of pain and suppression, she posits.

The minerals used in Sappho New Paradigm cosmetics come from the Responsible Mica Initiative. The packaging uses a pellet called biosphere which makes the plastic tubes recyclable but also biodegradable in landfill. The brushes are made from wood harvested by an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible forestry.

From a beauty perspective, Sappho also questions what it means to wear makeup and why. Fowler acknowledges that you’ll never be able to achieve the silicone finish with a natural beauty product because that ingredient won’t be there, but she doesn’t understand why you would want it. “Silicones aren’t just dangerous, they’re dangerous to the world,” she says, “They’re not biodegradable, they’re horrible.”

But more than that, it unnerves Fowler to see Odd Valley’s poreless makeup style. “I’m always surprised when I walk into a makeup trailer and see someone who’s so full of silicone makeup that you can’t see their skin,” she says, “that’s not the make-up artist that I am, I have always wanted to work with the person’s skin and give it the best of itself.

For Sappho’s latest photo shoot, they made a call on social media inviting their followers to have their picture taken. They didn’t do any retouching and just played around with the lighting to celebrate how makeup can be a fun expression of what’s already beautiful.

“We have a very strong presence in our society that says you have to look a certain way,” Fowler explains, “And that’s mostly driven by the same people in the halls of the FDA who make decisions about how women must wear make-up”, who do not. have exactly the interests of women at heart.

Fowler says she doesn’t wear makeup every day and doesn’t think women need it, but if they want to, they should be able to make informed decisions about what they put on their skin and the impact it has. it has on the environment.


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