International Women’s Day, or IWD, takes place on 8 March. Stemming from the socialist feminist movements of the early 20th century, the event was officially adopted by the UN in 1996 and now serves as a worldwide day of acknowledgement of the achievements of women.
It not only serves as an occasion to celebrate the continued efforts of women but also as a reminder of how far we’ve come in terms of equality – and to recognise that women still face daily struggles with issues including the gender pay gap, patriarchal structures, family planning, period poverty, domestic abuse and countless more. The movement works to an annual theme, with 2023 encouraging everyone to fully #EmbraceEquity. A focus on gender equity needs to be an integral part of society; a must-have, not just a ‘nice-to-have’.
In the UK, only one in three entrepreneurs are female. This is further echoed in size too, as according to The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, businesses with women at the helm are, on average, around a quarter of the size of male-led companies.
If this statistic has you wanting to support the females at the top, this International Women’s Day, we’ve rounded up a range of female-led fashion and beauty brands to have on your radar, in order to to shine a light on those breaking the mould in business.
Whether you’re looking to treat yourself to something new or just fancy taking a peek at the names behind the labels, our directory is a great place to start.
Sculpted by Aimee
Founded by Irish make-up artist Aimee Connolly, this brand is one we insist you carry in your make-up bag. Sculpted by Aimee has been around since 2016 (making its UK debut in 2020) and is fast-growing a cult-like appreciation. With hero products and a host of newly-released ones alike – plus, a make-up training academy that accredits over 300 people each year – Connolly’s background in the industry plays a huge part in why every new product is so on point. Our favourites include the second skin foundation (£25, Sculptedbyaimee.co.uk), the complete cover up concealer (£15, Sculptedbyaimee.co.uk) and the recently-launched cloud cream moisturiser (£30, Sculptedbyaimee.co.uk).
Rat and Boa
It’s developed quite the following for its gorgeous prints and supple fabrics, but did you know Rat and Boa was founded by two women? Friends Valentina Muntoni and Stephanie Bennett founded the brand in 2015, with the aim to create a unique, boutique collection that bridges the gap between high street and designer clothing. Flash forward seven years and it's still a firm favourite and a one-stop shop for dresses and more.
With a name deriving from the words ‘intuition’ and ‘Swiss’, this luxury skincare brand from Switzerland champions sustainable beauty, as well as scientifcally-led research across its entire product range – which currently includes a cleansing lotion, essential cream, eye mask and face serum. Most significantly, Intuisse uses active NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a coenzyme found in all living cells which protects skin cells from stress and helps them repair damaged DNA – by activating the skin's own anti-ageing mechanisms and penetrating to the deeper layers of your skin – to give your skin a youthful glow.
Aimée Ann Lou
Merging her love of footwear design and passion for sustainability, Aimée Ann Lou offers customers the luxury shoe option, without having to settle for stilettos. With every design centring around glamour and elegance, her range of flat and low heels also ensure function and wearability. With designer Aimee Homer and her team focusing on Italian craftsmanship – the factory is based near Florence in Tuscany and design takes place between London and Milan – sustainability is at the forefront of the brand’s ethos, with materials such as certified LWG sustainable leathers, eco-responsible satin and recycled plastic compounds.
14 Day Mani
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t appreciate the time-saving element of a DIY manicure and thanks to 14 Day Mani, you can achieve salon-like results, at a fraction of the cost. It doesn’t matter if you’re no nail pro as these professional-esque manicure kits are well suited to beginners. Founder Suzanne Fowler signed up to a course with a professional gel nail brand and learned all about nail design and care from industry experts to create this at-home gel manicure kit you can enjoy from the comfort of your home.
What do we love more than a female-founded brand? A sustainable, female-founded brand. And that’s exactly what Winden, the personal care company set out to redefine the everyday routine, is. Championing its new hair care product duo – the signature solid shampoo and the clean case – the brand’s ethos is beautiful, effective and low-waste prodcuts. Inspired by founder Rebecca Mapes’ own journey to live a more conscious lifestyle, the brand helps consumers become more sustainable in their own daily lives.
If you’re looking for gorgeous jewellery then Matilde Mourinho’s brand should definitely be on your radar this International Women’s Day. As well as femine power, inspiration and support being at the heart of the brand on a daily basis, this year Matilde Jewellery will donate 10 per cent of its proceeds to Plan International. The limited edition Minerva charm and Heartlock necklace have also been specially curated to inspire female empowerment and beauty and is able to clip onto any necklace or earrings.
From renowned make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench (whose previous clients include Rihanna, Madonna and Bella Hadid), the brand believes in affirming not transforming when it comes to make-up and beauty. “It’s about using makeup to return to who you are, not become someone else” is the founder’s mantra. New to the collection is lips, the recently-launched signature lipstick – which comes in shades ‘Vanity’, a black shimmer, and ‘Cardinal’, a red satin shade.
Briogeo is a haircare brand founded by Nancy Twine, a leading authority on all things green beauty. Nancy is also the youngest African American to launch a product line at Sephora, yet another achievement to celebrate this International Women’s Day. With hero products such as the scalp revival micro-exfoliating shampoo and the leave-in defining creme (from the curl charisma collection), the brand prides itself on containing zero harsh sulphates, silicones, phthalates, parabens or artificial dyes.
With so much of our jewellery losing colour after minimal wear, Hey Harper founder and CEO Catarina Oliveir saw an opportunity to invest and bring other women quality jewelry at fair prices. Hey Harper claims to be “the original waterproof jewellery brand” and during our test of waterproof jewellery brands, our reviewer admitted that her bracelet remained “just as shiny now as when it was brand new” with “not one hint of dark spots, colour fading or tarnishing to be seen”.
It’s hard to go online without seeing Trinny Woodall pop up right now, and Trinny London is of course her namesake brand covering beauty and skincare. Known for its easy stackable make-up products, and recently breaking into skincare, Trinny really does seem to be taking the beauty world by storm. Just take a look at our best Trinny London products round-up and you’ll understand why everyone is raving about it.
This brand needs no introduction, but its two female founders might. Catching the entrepreneurial bug while still students back in 2015, Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey founded Rixo from their living room (which is certainly more than we did in our student days). Fast forward seven years and the brand has had multiple shows at London Fashion Week and has even been spotted on some of the UK’s favourite celebs including Holly Willoughby. Here at IndyBest we’re in love with the fabulous floral dresses just as much as anyone else, and even spotlighted the exciting and affordable bridal collection.
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Raise a glass this International Women’s Day by drinking wines made by women