How New Canadian Brand 19/99 Beauty is Changing the Conversation Around Age

Photograph courtesy of 19/99 Beauty.

“We believe that age does not define how you express your idea of beauty.”

Launching a new beauty brand in the midst of a global health pandemic might sound incredibly stressful, but for Camille Katona and Stephanie Spence, the timing allowed them to reiterate the messaging behind their new brand, 19/99 Beauty. “The pandemic hit when we were about six weeks out from launch,” they tell FASHION via email. “We, along with so many others, were and are grasping for ways to adjust to our new world and 19/99 will have, more than ever, a focus on building community and conversations. While what is happening in the world is devastating, we are also seeing a shift in what we as a society truly value. As a new beauty brand, our hope is to be able to use this time to rethink what beauty is all about.”

19/99 beauty
Photograph courtesy of 19/99 Beauty

In a release, the Toronto-based pair (who have both worked in the industry for more than 10 years) describe the brand as making “high-performance, multi-purpose products designed for those who want to define their own beauty and don’t give a sh*t about what is considered appropriate.” The line launched with just two products – the Precision Colour Pencil ($26) and High-Shine Gloss ($24) – which the pair says was a deliberate move to help combat the excess waste already hyper-present in the industry. “We wanted to challenge ourselves to create a limited number of products that are universal; that work for anyone regardless of age, skin tone, aesthetic and lifestyle,” they explain, adding that the products were developed with Canadian makeup artist Simone Otis (who is also the brand’s lead makeup artist). “Simone has vast experience working with people of all skin tones and ages, and was able to help us develop both of these products to ensure they are truly universal. Red lipstick is a timeless, ageless statement accessory that we felt was an approachable way to introduce customers to the product. Throughout our time in the beauty industry we have constantly heard people commenting that ‘this red won’t work’ for them or they ‘can’t wear red’. We believe that anyone can pull off any colour, it’s just about wearing it with confidence.”

Sustainability is also a key focus for the brand, with the pair describing their approach as “less is more.” They tell us, “Our goal is to reshape how we use makeup, with a focus on timeless essentials that also allow for open interpretation, creativity and play. This versatility is what can allow users to create any look they want with fewer products.” On a business level, sustainability comes in the form of using paper envelopes and newsprint for packaging versus traditional plastics and bubble wrap. It goes deeper, too, with the duo also giving back to the community via a partnership with Nellie’s Toronto that will see the brand donate 10 per cent of all of its sales to the organization. “We believe community also plays a role in sustainability. We’ve partnered with Nellie’s in Toronto, which is an organization that operates programs and services for women and children who have and are experiencing oppressions such as violence, poverty and homelessness. Nellie’s is committed to social change through education and advocacy, to achieve social justice for all women and children.”

19/99 Beauty
Photograph courtesy of 19/99 Beauty.

At the core of everything is a focus on products that work for all women, regardless of their age. “We believe that age does not define how you express your idea of beauty. Women are still being pigeon-holed into age-appropriate behaviours, when modern lifestyle is beginning to break down the boundaries of what is considered ‘age-appropriate’. We felt that there was an opportunity to include women of all ages in the conversation surrounding beauty.”

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