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.