Karissa Bodnar

The Founder of Thrive Causemetics, a One-for-One Beauty Brand

As a little girl, Karissa Bodnar watched her mom put on lipstick. With each swipe, she seemed to apply a jolt of confidence. The closest beauty store was an hour away, so Bodnar started making her own makeup with a blender, flowers, and natural waxes (OK, sometimes crayons). Today, she’s the CEO and founder of Thrive Causemetics, a vegan beauty brand that donates one product for every product sold.

When did you realize what you wanted to do in your life?

“I had always dreamed of creating a makeup line. I tragically lost one of my closest friends at 24. Her name was Kristy, and I found myself at a crossroads. Losing someone special to you forces you to reflect on everything in your life and understand how precious our time is. I remember having this carpe diem moment at 2 a.m. one morning, and thinking to myself, ‘If not now, when?’ It was in those wee hours of the morning that Thrive was born. I slowly started working on formulas in my kitchen, and step by step, piece by piece, not only did we create a high performance, vegan, cruelty-free makeup line, we created a movement that helps women live their best lives.”

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

“When I was a little girl, I had Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote framed on my wall that read ‘To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.’ And I’ve always kept that value with me. My biggest accomplishment is that Thrive Causemetics has changed the lives of millions of women through our product donations—we donate one product for every product purchased to help a woman in need.”

What’s something you’d like people to know about you or your job that they probably don’t?

“I spend at least two hours a day personally responding to messages from our customers. I call them our #ThriveTribe, and it’s one of the best parts of my day! Instagram Live, DMs, Facebook comments, emails, phone calls, live chat on name it, I love engaging with our community. Our customers have actually helped us improve and create so many products in our collection. For example, with one of our recent launches, the Buildable Blur CC Cream, thousands of women in our community helped us develop an inclusive shade range and one of the largest available for CC cream.”

What are you most grateful for?

“I’m so grateful to be, I hope, the daily part of women’s lives that makes them feel like they can take the day head on. Lipstick is powerful and emotional: It impacts your confidence, and for so many women, swiping on that lip makes them feel unstoppable. I am also grateful for the trust our consumers put in us, their loyalty, and their passion about our products and our cause.”

What advice do you have for other women working toward their own dreams?

“When everything feels like it’s going against me, I focus on my ‘why,’ and my why is our mission: helping women thrive in all aspects of life. So my advice is simple: Remember why you started. It is what kept me going when I was personally fulfilling customer orders, printing shipping labels at 2 a.m., and making ‘thank you for waiting’ gifts for our customers when we sold out of every single shade of our Infinity Waterproof Eyeliner back in 2016.”

Whom do you admire more than anyone else?

“Oprah. Through her greatest successes and deepest failures, she’s maintained the utmost authenticity and she’s a phenomenal philanthropist.”

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