Makeup should be inclusive, cruelty-free and individualistic, believes Kajol Bafna, a young entrepreneur and founder of makeup brand Boss Lady.
Q. What made you think of launching makeup brand at such a young age?
A. At a young age, I was fascinated with colours and that love translated into an interest in makeup as I grew older. I left my Masters’ degree in Political Science to pursue a career in makeup as it offered me a creative freedom which was beyond the confines of a traditional education. While waiting on a call back for a job at Nykaa, I began researching the industry and found a lack of inclusive makeup. That’s when the idea of Boss Lady happened. Having a background in Political Science made me more aware about the politics of makeup and how we needed a more inclusive and independent brand that does not cater to gender or societal norms. Boss Lady, is a brand with an objective and is much more than just a beauty brand.
Q. Since you mentioned inclusivity, do you feel that Indian makeup brands are not doing enough in this area?
A. To be honest, there are brands who are working to include people from all communities but I feel that’s really performative in nature. They are just approaching the concept of “inclusivity” as a marketing gimmick and it does not feel real. Brands, be it, fashion or beauty, need to realise that the LGBTQIA+ community is not just a bandwagon to jump on and use them to show how inclusive they are. They are just people like you and me, who wear makeup. It is truly that simple and it is very important to understand the underlying politics, the history of oppression and freedom makeup and individual expression offers. The unlearning of prevailing gender stereotypes is much needed in this and other spaces.
Q. What is your stance on makeup being a both a political statement and also a way to exploit womens’ insecurities?
A. Many of our expectations of “feminine beauty” is a result of notions of modern advertisements. It has been decades of conditioning that has shaped our perception about how an “ideal woman” looks and this has caused so much damage to our self-esteem. Women spend thousands of rupees on luxurious makeup and hair to achieve a standard that is unreal and fake. All this has been accentuated by a rise in the blogger culture, airport looks of celebrities etc. Makeup, which is such a beautiful form of self-expression and individuality has unfortunately been reduced to a money making machine. With brands providing four shades of foundation and not thinking about the variety of skin colours and textures, many women feel left out. We need to bring the narrative from the companies back to women. Makeup should be about owning one’s own self and not catering to a company’s idea of how they should look.
The beauty industry needs to wake up – you cannot be ethical if you are exploiting. The current standards of beauty are dangerously unattainable especially, in terms of thinness because the gap between realistic expectations and the ideal continues to grow larger.
Q. You are really vocal about your opinions, makeup being gender independent or the existing CAA-NRC issue, have you been told not to do that?
A. Fortunately, NO. I have not been told not to speak about them. My parents have always been very supportive of my views. My peers have been really tolerant and accepting about whatever I had to say. Anyhow, I have always been vocal about every issue I truly believed it so even if I had someone tell me a no, it would’ve fallen onto deaf ears.
Q. With Rihanna upping the ante with Fenty beauty, will we be seeing a vast range of foundations from Boss Lady soon? If not, then any other brand you can think of?
A. We have so much coming up. I can’t tell you how often people ask us about when we will be launching foundations and concealers. I tell them that the day Boss Lady does, it will be for each and every person. I don’t ever want any person to wear Boss Lady and think that it is not meant for them. Boss Lady is and will always be made for everyone. I have met many women who have told me that they never could find a shade made for them and I want to be there for those women and beyond.
They walk into stores and end up paying so much money for shades that don’t go well for them and I never want Boss Lady to be part of that – anyone who spend their hard earned money on boss Lady, I will make sure that it’s well spent. Even with our current range, there is not one shade that won’t suit every one, no matter the skin tone.
Q. What are your everyday essentials? A lipstick you have come to love?
A. My everyday essentials are my skin care products which should be a part of everyone’s regime- a moisturiser and a sunscreen. I don’t leave my home without either of those. In makeup, it would be my Boss Lady eye flick. A brow tint and any one of my lipsticks or as we call them Love Pens.
Since I have a dusky skin tone, I was asked to never wear bold shades. It took me awhile to get over that. I have again started wearing bolder shades cause they just add a little oomph to every outfit and gives me that confidence boost. I want to encourage more people to wear a shade that does that for them even if it’s a red shade- go to work wearing it – it doesn’t matter. Wear whatever you are yourself the most.
Q. Who is your ultimate inspiration when it comes to makeup aesthetics?
A. Kim Kardashian, hands down. She is unapologetic and I love how her “no-makeup” look is also so stunning. In India, that would be Deepika Padukone, because I love the way how every makeup look, looks great on her.
Q. Where does your brand stand in terms of being environmentally conscious and sustainable?
A. Sustainability is a long journey. It will take us a few months or years to be completely sustainable but it’s important to take those steps. We have done so by eliminating plastic in our outer packages, we don’t hoard our bloggers with huge boxes, and we also do have a policy where in we accept empty containers and give them for recycling. We manufacture in small batches and we are don’t use any toxic chemicals in our formulations. Of course being vegan and cruelty free is equally essential. Animal testing world-wide should be completely banned and have stricter regulations.