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selfmade

An emotionally-intelligent personal care brand creating skincare products rooted in mental health.

  • Female-Founded
  • AAPI-Founded
  • Clean Ingredients
  • Sustainable Practices
FOUNDER Stephanie Lee
HEADQUARTERS Occidental, CA
selfmade

Behind the Brand

selfmade was founded by Stephanie Lee, the kid of immigrants and former product developer MAC Cosmetics and staffer for First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. Growing up in the south as a first-generation Vietnamese-Chinese tomboy, Stephanie was in search of belonging where their Asian heritage met the current US societal standards. They grew up loving beauty since they were five years old, spending time in the hair salon. From tagging along with their mother who was a hairstylist to becoming a makeup artist at MAC Cosmetics when they were in college. As someone who looked different from their friends growing up, working at the makeup counter allowed for a new definition of diverse beauty when meeting folks from different lived experiences from being a part of communities of color, queer and trans. Fast forward, it wasn’t until a mental health crisis in 2015 that became the necessary moment to do the hard work and self-reflect in therapy to embrace their inherent self-worth and feel confident in their own skin.

In 2018, Stephanie left their corporate job and steady paycheck for a year-long solo traveling trip around the world with the intention of taking what they learned in therapy about self-exploration and to reckon with uncertainty. Making their way across 11 countries and 16 US states, Stephanie collected vulnerable stories from new friends about their own journey to embracing self-worth. As they continued to heal from their own mental health crisis, they learned about the powerful experience of self-discovery and self-validation and the necessity of a healthy, supportive community to help reinforce who we choose to be in the world. They also experienced how the commoditized self-care and wellness industrial complex can be predatory for those who are vulnerably searching and oftentimes ignores the needs of communities of color.

From these lived experiences and the encouragement of their community, Stephanie decided to use their privilege to make impact, to confront the societal narrow beauty and wellness standards in a new way. They created selfmade to incorporate credible and researched back mental health into daily beauty rituals to spark self-discovery in the quiet moments that already exist in our beauty rituals. With a team of beauty, skin, and mental health experts, they developed a line of psychodermatology skin essentials made to help us explore the connection between our minds and skin and battle the effect of internal and external stressors through texture and ingredient technology. Each product is linked to specific psychological concepts such as emotional intimacy or attachment and healthy relationships to help nurture our minds back to healthy homeostasis. Today, selfmade is the first emotionally intelligent personal care brand on the market, inspiring confidence and worthiness through everyday self-worth rituals.

Meet the Maker

What has been your most unforgettable moment (good or bad) while building your company? - +

Bringing my completely remote team together for the first time when the pandemic started to ease up was really fulfilling. We aren’t venture backed or a part of a big CPG machine so having our rag tag group of scrappy folks come together was amazing to see the energy and their commitment to the mission of changing the way we take care of ourselves was awesome. This is a tiny and mighty community of folks who’ve doubled down on making a lasting impact on their own emotional wellbeing and hellbent on sharing the ups and downs so we can learn from each other.

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? - +

I moved from NYC to the countryside in Sonoma County. A privilege to be able to have mobility particularly in a time that has been so hard for many folks. My partner and I moved to be closer to nature for our mental health. So my favorite thing to do is to hang out with my dogs at the beach. Other than that, I’m an introvert and love to spend time in my brain tinkering around and chasing threads of weird and wonderful thoughts.

What is an essential part of your daily routine? - +

My anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medication is one of the first things I take when I wake up. Going outside and feeling the sun on my eyelids. Lastly, sleep hygiene - trying my best!

What is your biggest pet peeve? - +

Personally, being underestimated. Interpersonally, someone assuming I know what is going on in their brain or knowing what they need. I can meet someone’s needs much better if they can directly let me know and that type of relational negotiation has served a lot of my relationships well.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? - +

I’m goofy AF.

What do you want to be remembered for? - +

How I made someone feel in our interaction. I learn so much and have such great satisfaction getting to know others deeply, my hope that they experience the same thing.

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