In The PathTM, we spotlight different women making a difference in the fashion, beauty, wellness, medical aesthetics, and more industries. Here, Kosas® founder Sheena Yaitanes shares her road to success.
These days, it seems like everyone wants to start their own beauty company, regardless of their career history or educational background. However, Kosas Cosmetics founder Sheena Yaitanes seemed predestined to launch a brand. “My life has been a collection of many seemingly unrelated skills that all collectively give Kosas a certain texture that is totally unique to itself,” Yaitanes explains.
The 36-year-old Southern California native grew up around beauty — her mother worked in the industry — and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California Irvine® in biological sciences and her master’s from Chapman University’s℠ Argyos School of Business and Economics℠. However, she was never inspired to start her own brand until she took on a post-grad school painting apprenticeship. “During an apprenticeship with artist Stephanie Pryor, I learned the anatomy of color,” she recalls.
It was then that she had the idea to launch her own clean beauty brand, and that lesson in color anatomy led to the brand’s first products in 2015: four lipsticks. Today, the range has expanded significantly — it now includes 10 lipsticks, blush, lip glosses, eyeshadow, a cult-favorite tinted face oil, and more — and its unique take on beauty has garnered Gwyneth Paltrow as a fan.
“Our formulas are clean and packed with good-for-you treatment ingredients,” Yaitanes says of the brand’s approach. “It feels like skincare, but works like makeup. It’s kind of a win/win situation.” Here, She expands on her unique career path, plus shares her thoughts on medical aesthetics, how she balances work with life as a mom to her six-year-old daughter Electra, and more.
Spotlyte: How did you get interested in beauty in the first place?
Sheena Yaitanes: My mother worked at various beauty counters in Orange County, so I grew up around makeup, and gravitated to it at a very young age. I studied it even when I didn’t know I was studying it, and have always loved it.
Spotlyte: What inspired you to start Kosas?
SY: My goal has always been to make it easy for people to find makeup that’s quick and really works, every single time. I think makeup should be easy to use, perfectly flattering, comfortable, and actually good for your skin — because it’s your face, after all.
Spotlyte: What are you most proud of about Kosas?
SY: Tinted Face Oil and 10-Second Eyeshadow are particularly emotional for me because they were totally new approaches, which brought a certain level of risk. So there was that nervous excitement — but, then, when they land and I hear that the products have solved problems for people, I feel so proud.
Spotlyte: What is the most rewarding part of running your business?
SY: It’s been so wild, honestly. Five years ago at my kitchen table, I could never have imagined the company would grow to what it is today. I love creating product, I love the scared/excited feeling I get when we launch something new, and most of all, I am so proud of my team. I feel lucky to work with them every day, and can’t wait for our next move. There’s lots of new stuff on the way.
Spotlyte: What’s the most challenging part of running your business?
SY: There’s a lot to figure out when it comes to creating a brand. You’re making something where nothing existed before, so there are many systems to develop. But the biggest challenge of all is to give birth to something that is so full of your heart and soul, and then put it out into the world to stand on its own two feet. It can feel revealing and vulnerable, but ultimately it’s the most exciting part.
Spotlyte: What advice do you have for women?
SY: It’s important for women to feel their best. I believe makeup should be flattering, easy, and good for your skin. It should be comfortable. It should let you express yourself. It should make you feel your best.
Spotlyte: So when do you feel most beautiful?
SY: After a deep shower, the kind where you do everything. You know the one.
Spotlyte: Have you ever tried injectables? If so, when did you start and how often do you go?
SY: I started when I was 30, and I go about every six months.
Spotlyte: What was your first experience with injectables?
SY: It was injectable wrinkle reducers. I think people should do (or not do) what they want.
Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They should not be used more frequently than every three months. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you.
Spotlyte: What do you get treated?
SY: I squint when I concentrate, and I get that line, so [the elevens is] the area I get treated.
Spotlyte: Who do you see?
SY: I see a woman named Olga Kud [in Beverly Hills]. She has a year-long waitlist. You make an appointment with her six months in advance. When you go for your appointment, you book your next one, too, which is in six months.
Spotlyte: What is your daily skincare and beauty regimen?
As far as my actual beauty routine, it’s very quick. I move fast when I’m doing my makeup and I use my hands a lot, so I always keep tissues nearby. I use a few drops of Tinted Face Oil in Tone 5.5, Tropic EquinoxTM on my cheekbones (apply as much as your mood tells you), 10-Second Eyeshadow in ElementTM and Globe®, and Weightless Lip Color in PhoenixTM. The good thing about our products is that you can get a super bold look and it still takes you less than five minutes.
At night, I cleanse, splash on some Vintner’s Daughter Essence, and get eight hours of sleep.
Spotlyte: What about your daily hair routine and products?
SY: I love Briogeo® shampoo and conditioner
Spotlyte: What's your anti-aging philosophy?
SY: I don’t like the word “anti-aging.” But I think getting older is about everyday best practices — good skincare, clean makeup, getting enough sleep, et cetera. Also, everyone has different aging genetics, so you just have to do what makes you feel good. There are no rules.
Spotlyte: How do you balance being a founder and CEO with being a mom?
SY: Oh, I don’t balance it at all. I think it’s about forgetting any unrealistic or unreasonable expectations and just doing the best you can at both. My daughter does pop by the office all the time, though.
Spotlyte: If you weren't doing Kosas, what would you love to do for a career?
SY: I’d probably go back to something in science or fine art.
Spotlyte: How did your beauty/skincare routines change after becoming a mom?
SY: I started to nail it in record time.
Spotlyte: You’re a busy mom and entrepreneur — what are your favorite methods of self-care? Do any destinations in LA play a role?
SY: I am a pretty extreme homebody, but when I do venture out, I love Grand Spa℠ in Koreatown and anything Nancy Silverton has ever touched.
Spotlyte: What do you hope to teach your daughter about beauty?
SY: To always come from a place of joy and love.
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