This New Feminist Skincare Brand Is Flipping Off The Beauty Status Quo And Fighting To Redefine The Industry Landscape
In the current beauty climate, it's easy to get swept away with fad trends and big price points, desperately hoping to strike gold with a product that will make you look prettier, younger, brighter — the list goes on. Big brands can have questionable values, which can often leave you wondering whether they really care about you and your needs, or whether you're just an opportunity to make money. All the while, these companies are perpetuating the kind of beauty standards that so many are now fighting hard to break down. So when we got the chance to have a chat with Bron Stange, founder of new skincare brand Bopo Women (which launches today), we were so excited to hear everything from the company's roots to its plans for the future.
Describe Bopo Women as a brand in three words.
Reclamation, feminist, self-care.
Tell us about Bopo Women’s inception — where did the idea come from?
Bopo Women was born out of my own experience as an eating disorder survivor, coupled with my gender studies background and exposure to online body positivity. I experienced the immense value of self-care and self-love through my own recovery journey, yet am also acutely aware of the need for structural, external change regarding body positivity and women’s equality. Bopo Women fuses these two facets together by providing women with a feminist, body positive skincare alternative that both challenges harmful structural beauty norms and encourages you to care for and come home to your beautiful body.
I talk a lot about that ‘lightbulb moment’ that a lot of us who go off on our own ventures have. Do you have one? If so, what was it?
I definitely relate to the idea of a 'lightbulb moment', but for me the decision to create Bopo Women happened gradually overtime. First came years of battling an eating disorder and seeing so many women I love struggle with body image. At some point in my journey, instead of looking inward for the problem, like I had been for so long, I started to look outward at the beauty industry. I began to see how oppressive these structural forces are and how beauty myths have been created to keep women small and powerless. I think seeing that these messages are constructed helped me realise that they could therefore be deconstructed and rewritten, and I knew I wanted to be part of that somehow. Then at the end of my law degree when, while everyone else was racing off to apply for court clerkships or corporate internships, I started to realise that I really didn’t want to devote my life to that path. I never expected to start a business, let alone a feminist beauty brand, but the idea kept nagging at me and eventually I gave in. I started to think, Why not me?, and that's pretty much been my mantra since.
Bopo Women is such a strong statement. What made you decide on that name? What does the term ‘Bopo Women’ mean to you?
Choosing the name Bopo Women is definitely a strong statement; I was really cautious about using it at first because of the amount of big brands out there co-opting social justice terminology to sell harmful products. Using this term carries huge responsibility and, by connecting ourselves so explicitly to the online body positive movement, we are constantly determined to both reflect and support its inclusive and intersectional values. The reason I ultimately decided to include the word 'bopo' in our name is because I believe that we can and are doing this and will always be open to listening and learning from the community. We also donate 10% of proceeds to grassroots feminist and body positive initiatives and over time hope to support many online activists with the work they do.
We would also really love for our skincare products to act as a bridge between online body positivity and the more mainstream offline world, increasing the reach of this radical and empowering movement. Bopo Women means bringing together a community who are seeking to create a world in which all bodies, particularly marginalised ones, are safe, loved and cared for. To us, this means both structural change through activism and internal growth and liberation through the cultivation of self-care practices, self-love and body acceptance.
I guess what some of our boss babes are dying to know: how did Bopo Women get from just an idea to being actual real life products?
This is such a good question, and the truth is so much of the process has been learning on the go. I don’t come from a business or entrepreneurial background and so I’ve had to learn everything from scratch. There are lots of moving parts including consulting with our chemist, label creation, box design and printing, working with our amazing illustrator and photographer and website creation.
I have an incredible partner, James, who has previously run an importing business and is a design, logistics and sourcing genius. He has really helped me bring my vision to life.
We actually only found our Sydney chemist in September last year and the process has gone pretty smoothly since then. I honestly feel like that’s because Bopo Women has taken on a life of its own and that I'm just the conduit for a creation that’s for women collectively.
I think the key thing I would say is that you really don’t need any particular skill, degree or experience to translate an idea into reality. The internet is an amazing place and with the right research and persistence you can teach yourself pretty much anything. If you really believe that your idea is what you were put on this earth to do, then I think you can definitely find a way to create it. The whole start-up space is really dominated by the white, male, Silicon Valley archetype and I feel like so many women just don’t see themselves in that and therefore automatically assume they can’t be part of it. I think this picture is slowly starting to change and women are creating their own definitions of what it means to create socially responsible businesses on our own terms and I find that really exciting.
What do you think of the current beauty landscape and why is it so important that Bopo Women becomes a part of it?
I think the current beauty landscape is pretty dismal and that beauty standards seem to get more narrow and ridiculous by the day. So many beauty brands use social media to continue to proliferate distorted, exclusionary and harmful imagery of women’s bodies, in the exact same way as traditional media. I often think it’s even worse because there is a really destructive blurring of what’s 'real' on social media that can often make these beauty standards even more oppressive and unattainable.
Yet, in 2017 we saw such a huge surge of feminist activism, particularly with the #metoo movement, and I just feel like it really is 'the time' for a brand like Bopo Women to shake things up. If our world continues to shift in this way, I truly believe that profiting from women’s self-hatred just won’t be a viable business model anymore. I think in a world where women are truly free, equal, safe in their bodies and valued, these patriarchal marketing mechanisms simply won’t sell and so I think self-loving, body positive brands like Bopo Women are the way of the feminist future! This is what women want and it’s what they deserve.
What does Bopo Women offer that other brands simply don’t?
A true commitment to feminist, body positive values. No exceptions, ever. The opportunity to create a different kind of beauty industry, where no women is harmed, while purchasing beautiful and nourishing products that help you cultivate self-care and self-love rituals in your life.
What things do you think will draw your customers to the brand?
Authenticity. Real intersectional feminist and body positive values. Inclusivity. The true self-care benefits of our natural skincare ingredients.
There are tonnes of products available on the market, and ingredients is a very ‘in vogue’ conversation to have right now when it comes to the things we use on our skin. Tell us a bit about the ingredients in your products.
There definitely are a lot of conversations surrounding 'in vogue' ingredients in the online world of skincare with plenty of buzzwords around. We’ve consciously chosen to sidestep this and not focus on 'fad' ingredients or actives.
Instead, we’ve centred our ranges around beautiful Australian botanicals, natural ingredients and essential oils to create products with true self-care benefits to relieve stress, improve sleep, lift mood, rejuvenate and empower. We’ve really focused on therapeutic benefits and the actual experience of using our skincare in the present moment, as opposed to future 'results' and 'transformation'.
Our products are natural, cruelty-free and do not contain fillers, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, TEA, DEA, or toxins. Most of our range is vegan and the only animal-derived product we use is ethically sourced organic honey. We use handmade glass bottles or BPA free plastic for all of our packaging.
Is Bopo Women friendly to all skin types?
Our products are very gentle and skin friendly! Our face range has been formulated specifically with sensitive skin in mind and is also very nourishing for those with dry skin. Our focus on therapeutic benefit means our products have been crafted to be truly nourishing for all skin types.
What’s been your favourite thing about this entire process?
Connecting with incredible women who have been so supportive of what we’re trying to achieve, and who have told me how much they need a brand like Bopo Women by their side. Plus, of course, seeing it all come to life and actually holding it in my hands! It’s kind of been like a feminist fairytale.
Run us through the launch collection!
Our launch collection contains two ranges: The Empower Range and The Surrender Range. The Empower range features beautiful ingredients to uplift and empower, including organic Rose, Kakadu Plum and Australian Pink Clay. This range includes our beautiful Empower Face range, as well as bath and body, including products like our Goddess Bath Soak and Self-Love Body Elixir.
Our Surrender Range has been crafted to soothe, relax and restore, encouraging women to slow down and come home to their bodies. The range contains unbeatable stress-fighters Lavender and Chamomile, paired with carefully selected Australian botanicals and essential oils to support sleep and promote deep rest. This range focuses on bath and body and includes products like our Surrender Bath Soak, Self-Care Extre-Mist and Self-Care Body Elixir.
What’s your favourite product(s) in the range?
I really love our Empower Face Range which includes a cleanser, hydrating moisturiser, rose face mist and a facial elixir. Before we created it, I was never that great at maintaining a daily face ritual and using the same products consistently; I’ve gotten much better and I’ve realised it’s such a nice way to care for yourself every day. We have this beautiful Rose Quartz Roller which you can use with our Empower Facial Elixir to give yourself a DIY facial and it feels so good. I do it before bed and it makes me so sleepy. It’s also coming into Winter down here in the Southern Hemisphere so I am loving our Body Elixirs, which combine a selection of beautiful essential oils, and are super nourishing for dry skin.
You’re an Aussie brand, but can we get our hands on it here in the UK?
Yes you can! The UK is such a feminist, body positive hub. We ship worldwide and offer several economical shipping options to suit your budget.
What’s next for Bopo Women? Are there more products on the horizon or are you planning to focus on the growth of the current products?
Our key goal for Bopo Women is to truly make an impact on the beauty landscape and hopefully in time take over significant marketshare of companies profiting from beauty myths and women’s oppression. I realise this is a big goal but I really believe in the impact our collective purchasing power can have on the status quo.
We are always on the lookout for new products and inspiration, but for the next few months will be focusing on getting our current products out there into the world through as many channels as possible. We do, however, have a really cool initiative that we’ll be launching in the next month or two. Any crystal-lovers, stay tuned!
You can check out Bopo Women on Instagram, and you can shop the Empower and Surrender collections over on their website. Plus, to celebrate launch week, use discount code NEWBEAUTY for 10% off all bundles and gift sets! What better time to shake up your skincare routine?!