Defying beauty standards through self-expression
Five minutes on TikTok is all it takes to see the influence that American make-up artist Donni Davy has on young people around the world. The make-up artist, who is best known for her work on the hit television show Euphoria, has legions of fans who emulate the vibrant and playful looks that appear on the programme across social media platforms.
Riding off the meteoric success of Euphoria, which has already earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Contemporary Makeup, Davy has launched her own make-up line, Half Magic, in collaboration with film distribution company A24. With eyeliners, eye paints, highlighters, lip liners and face gems that will allow fans to recreate the bold styles seen on-screen, the make-up brand is a celebration of self-expression rather than a way to conceal flaws or imperfections.
For these reasons, it is likely to appeal to anti-aspirational Generation Z, who are breaking free from tired beauty conventions. ‘I think self-expression through make-up can be therapeutic, cathartic and overall quite beneficial for one’s mental health,’ says Donni Davy, founder of Half Magic.
Accelerating access to healthcare in India
For Anvi Shah, CEO and co-founder of health and wellness e-commerce platform Hyugalife, the key to health is preventative care. As a result, Hyugalife not only offers a large selection of health products and supplements, but also functions as a content platform for education. The platform is aiming to become a go-to resource for wellbeing topics, featuring lifestyle tips that can help lessen the likelihood of developing diseases in future.
With ambitions to become the leading health e-tailer in the country, the website includes a wide range of brands, including Ayurvedic supplements, weight management products, skin, hair and nail vitamins, sports nutrition and women’s health products.
‘There is a lack of information and knowledge in India about health supplements and wellness mainly because it’s always been a populous and developing nation, so health and wellness wasn’t ever a primary topic to learn and talk about,’ explains Anvi Shah, co-founder and CEO of Hyugalife.
Improving food eco-systems in 2050
As a design journalist, brand strategist, food access advocate and editor, LinYee Yuan has many feathers in her cap. She is the founder and editor of Mold magazine, a bi-annual publication and website that examines how design can help address the looming food crisis. Mold takes the long view, daring to imagine the world in 2050, when there are likely to be 9bn people on the planet to feed.
Most recently, Yuan founded Field Meridians, a non-profit organisation strengthening local food ecologies through critical, site-specific interventions. Field Meridians works closely with the Crown Heights community, helping build food sovereignty in the centre of Brooklyn, New York. The Field Meridians project is about ‘taking some of the product ideas and larger questions that we’ve been trying to answer through our editorial work, and really creating a place-based practice in my community here in Crown Heights, Brooklyn,’ explains LinYee Yuan.
Getting tables for gourmands through dynamic pricing
After a decade at the helm of magazines like Surface and W, Marc Lotenberg is using his lifestyle and luxury expertise to build Dorsia, a hospitality start-up. Now in beta stage, Dorsia hopes to revolutionise the restaurant reservation process.
Since the pandemic, it has never been more difficult to secure a reservation at a popular restaurant. To address this, Dorsia is introducing dynamic pricing to the hospitality sector, aiming to solve the supply-and-demand inefficiencies that afflict the industry. Dynamic pricing, often referred to as surge pricing, is most common in the ride-sharing sector. By using this feature, the members-only app is helping gourmands guarantee reservations at their favourite restaurants.
‘The process of restaurant discovery, booking and payments is broken. We’re here to change that. We’re building frictionless technology that optimises revenue for restaurants and experiences for members, and we’re on a mission to overhaul the culture and economy of the hospitality industry along the way,’ explains the Dorsia website.
A digital support group for the creative class
Building a safe space for the creative class, The Graphic Support Group is a podcast by designers Drew Litowitz and James Chae that brings the often-glamorised field of graphic design back to earth. By being open about their career successes and setbacks, Litowitz and Chae are reclaiming failure, an essential component of every creative journey.
Every podcast episode explores a theme, such as anxiety, overcorrection or adaptability, and digs deep into the experiences of a guest designer without glossing over moments of disappointment or frustration. The result is a podcast that strives to help designers at the start of their career or who might be going through a rut.
‘I think what we’re really trying to do is create a space where people feel comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities both within their emotional psychological life, but also their design life,’ says Chae.
A fragrance company fusing biotech with the blockchain
With growing concerns about the overextraction of natural materials in the perfume industry, designers Enrico Pietra and Rodrigo Caula are launching a fragrance company that fuses synthetic ingredients with blockchain technology to pave a more sustainable path for the beauty industry.
Instead of depleting natural resources, Aeir uses biotechnology to replicate popular scents synthetically. In a process which the company likens to lab-grown diamonds, Aeris takes a botanical molecule and replicates it without the need to harvest organic ingredients.
In addition to using synthetic ingredients, the company is also exploring the potential of blockchain technology, creating a trademarked Web3 app that provides insider access to products called Aeir ID. ‘Once you become a member of Aeir ID, you gain access to our refill program among other exclusive products. You’ll be able to subscribe to various scents and receive them on a bi-monthly cadence,’ says Rodrigo Caula, co-founder of Aeir.
Creating a premium platform for inclusive and adaptive fashion
After struggling to find inclusive and adaptive retail experiences and products, Maria O’Sullivan-Abeyratne, a garment technologist and disability advocate, is launching Adaptista, a luxury e-commerce platform that caters to consumers with a range of mobility considerations.
Unlike many marketplaces that serve the disabled consumer segment, Adaptista prides itself on presenting products in a refined, elevated manner, even earning the nickname ‘the Farfetch of inclusive design and ethical e-commerce’ (source: Vogue Business). The marketplace features products from fashion-forward yet functional brands including Constant & Zoé, BP3 Underwear and Free Form Style.
Despite promises to increase diversity and inclusion, the fashion industry has been reluctant to embrace the adaptive fashion category, with only a handful of brands being active in this segment. ‘Brands need to move beyond the ‘us and them’ approach, which has led to tokenism. We built Adaptista as a fully accessible space, built and run by disabled people,’ explains Maria O’Sullivan-Abeyratne, founder and CEO of Adaptista.
Giving Made in Italy a much-needed makeover
Over the years, Made in Italy has become synonymous with high-quality craftsmanship and artisanal production. However, while idealised images of the Italian fashion market abound, the Made in Italy brand has fallen out of step with the reality of the country’s multiculturalism and diversity.
Bringing inclusivity to the forefront of Italian fashion, We Are Made in Italy (WAMI) is a collective started by designers Stella Jean and Edward Buchanan and talent scout and Afro Fashion Week Milan founder Michelle Ngonmo. The collective, which began as a response to the lack of visibility for BIPOC designers at Milan Fashion Week, has the goal of changing, ‘a broken system so that in the future [BIPOC designers] will not have to battle as we are”, says Edward Buchanan, co-founder of WAMI.
Breaking down barriers for emerging designers, the collective is helping foster a new generation of talent through mentoring, fashion shows and opportunities. By challenging the hackneyed stereotypes of the Made in Italy brand, WAMI is forging a new chapter for Italian fashion.
Arming creators with tools to build an avatar ecosystem
Akash Nigam was quick to spot a gap in the market when he started avatar technology company Genies in 2017. The company, which provides users with digital tools to create and sell online characters, outfits, and spaces, is now valued at £900million ($1 billion, €1 billion), and has received investment from private equity firm Silver Lake.
Now, the company is launching The Warehouse, an NFT marketplace for digital wearables. The Warehouse will allow users to create and sell digital clothing as NFTs and retain the intellectual property rights to their designs. Every time one of their designs is resold, for example, the original creator will receive a 5% cut of each sale.
Through innovative royalty systems, the platform is aiming to inspire greater artistic expression and experimentation. It’s also allowing buyers to customise the items they purchase. According to Nigam, buyers will own the, ‘rights to be able to edit it or DIY [purchases] within the studio platform, so they can use the tools and create a derivative collection’.
Overcoming anxiety through exploring the outdoors
Mary Steven is the 22-year-old face of wellbeing media platform Woo’s new series, Nature’s Calling. The series explores how spending time in nature can benefit mental health by providing coping mechanisms for anxiety and stress. Rather than preaching perfection, the programme extolls the benefits of trying something new, distancing itself from the Goop-style wellness narratives that have saturated popular media in recent years.
Guiding audiences through experiences like wild swimming, bird-watching, and life drawing, Steven is a relatable host whose cheery attitude and curious disposition is contagious. Steven, who also goes by the TikTok handle oatmilkleader, is often filmed trying things for the first time, making it even easier for audience members to identify with her.
Providing an alternative to consumer- and beauty-centric definitions of wellness, Steven represents the new vanguard of mental health influencers, helping young people overcome anxiety and stress through wholesome activities that are free and nature-focused.