Popaganda: How to Lipstick It to the Man

In the sixth episode of Popaganda’s GLAMOUR season, host Carmen Rios meets up with Davida Hall from Lipstick Lobby in Los Angeles—and finds out the stories behind each shade of the feminist beauty brand’s movement-oriented products.

Lipstick Lobby burst onto the scene in 2017 with a unique mission: to manufacture lipsticks that look good and do good too. The brand sends all net proceeds from each shade in the line to different organizations—meaning that in the years since they launched, Lipstick Lobby has raised awareness about everything from abortion rights to gun violence and generated thousands of dollars for Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the UnPrison Project, and the Brady Center. 

In the years since Lipstick Lobby launched, beauty has started to see its own feminist revolution take shape, with similar mission-aligned brands and products coming to the fore. In a wideranging interview, Carmen and Davida explore the power of a feminist beauty ritual, the importance of radicalizing glamour, and what’s next for the groundbreaking brand empowering people to put their politics where their mouths are.

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Photo courtesy of Lipstick Lobby

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT]
 
CARMEN RIOS: This episode of Popaganda is sponsored by Lewis & Clark College’s 39th annual Gender Studies Symposium, which will take place March 11, 12, and 13 in Portland, Oregon. Titled Tensions of Possibility, this symposium invites us to imagine, predict, and hypothesize about the future while also asking us to assess, rethink, and reckon with the past. Don’t miss out on this exciting series of free lectures, workshops, and panel discussions, an art exhibit and keynote talks by Jack Halberstam and Feminista Jones. Learn more at Go.LClark.edu/GenderSymp. We’ll see you on campus!
 
[theme music]
 
Hey! Welcome back to the Glamour season of Popaganda, Bitch Media’s biweekly feminist pop culture podcast. I’m your host, Carmen Rios. And today I’m taking you behind the scenes at Studio 71, where the feminist beauty brand Lipstick Lobby is fashioning a whole lot of social change by way of some very beautiful shades of lipstick.
 
DAVIDA HALL: BTS at the lipstick factory.
 
CARMEN: Yes! [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: Yeah, it’s like me packaging the boxes, like putting on the tubes.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.] When you had to be like, this is not a lipstick factory that you’re coming to!
 
DAVIDA: I know! Just imagine like Laverne and Shirley with the hair nets.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: Like a bunch of old-school women wearing like a smock. And they’re like, “Next, next!” And like lipstick’s just coming down the line.
 
CARMEN: Yes. I obviously thought that today was gonna be like the I Love Lucy episode with the….
 
DAVIDA: [Laughs.]
 
CARMEN: I’m like candy factory? Cookie factory?
 
DAVIDA: Wasn’t it the wine grapes?
 
CARMEN: [Laughing.] There’s also a wine grapes one!
 
DAVIDA: I like that she’s stepping on grapes. That’s all I can see. Different episode.
 
CARMEN: The assembly line one where she can’t get them fast enough, and there’s all the—
 
DAVIDA: [Laughs.] And the [unclear] off.
 
CARMEN: Yeah. It’s like, “Come on, Carmen. Make some lipstick!”
 
DAVIDA: Oh my gosh.
 
CARMEN: And then I’m like, “Oh my God! It’s all coming out so quickly!”
 
DAVIDA: Oh no, no. So, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but our lipsticks are actually made in New Jersey but here in America, but just not right here in my office.
 
CARMEN: Davida Hall’s office is not a lipstick factory. Instead, the VP of lifestyle content at Studio 71 works behind a standing desk in a bright room in a skyscraper at the edge of Beverly Hills. And her office is covered in photos of badass women.
 
Behind the door is a growing collage of models for another female-focused project, a wall papered over by images of women with different skin tones and body sizes, each pairing their look with their own unique hair style and enthusiastic smile. Behind her chair is a mirror and some notes on what comes next and what to do. But behind my seat is a wall populated only with massive posters in frames featuring images from the Lipstick Lobby’s campaigns.
 
Gloria Steinem looks out over both of us, lips shining after a swipe of In the Clear, a Vitamin E Lip Balm benefitting the unPrison Project. So does an anti-gun violence activist with her mouth painted in Fired Up, the Lipstick Lobby shade funneling proceeds to the Brady Center, and an activist slogan glowing in the same orange on her cheeks.
 
CARMEN: We’re all set up. We’re at Studio 71.
 
DAVIDA: Yup.
 
CARMEN: What is Studio 71?
 
DAVIDA: So, Studio 71 is an interesting place, as you can see from having walked through these doors. Very colorful. We are a global media company, so we do everything from influencer management and influencer procurement to working on films. We have a scripted department, we have an unscripted department, we have a production team, we have the talent influencer team. We have a lot of creative people. We have a lot of legal. And, you know, just we do so much here, it’s almost impossible to describe. But I think we call ourselves a global media company, which entails the media work we do and speaks to kind of our production services a little bit. But we’re known in the industry, I think, for our YouTube capabilities. We really started as a YouTube, servicing YouTube as the key platform. But now we’re very multiplatform. We work with all of our creators along all the platforms. And what I do is very much different from what the rest of the company is doing. I’m really in the lifestyle sector. So, as it pertains to women’s content, anything with really a female narrative, female-branded content, it comes to our department, and we handle and slay accordingly.
 
CARMEN: Ooh! Okay. So, what’s your journey then to Lipstick Lobby? Did you come in because of Lipstick Lobby, or Lipstick Lobby was a project of the studio?
 
DAVIDA: That’s such a great question.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: As I’m thinking, how do I answer, does this start with me as a weird Berkeley kid?
 
CARMEN: Yes!
 
DAVIDA: Or me as a even weirder kid who used to volunteer at Teen Line in high school? It’s so funny because—
 
CARMEN: We go all the way back for this.
 
DAVIDA: We go back. Do you want the braces version?
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: It’s so funny ‘cause I feel like, in a way, this brand was sort of always dormant within me, like Davida. Like it could’ve exploded at any point because I’m interested in the idea of how to help people, and that’s been just a part of me and my sort of career trajectory. But it was, I have to give a special credit to our esteemed president that he really inspired me to come up with this brand, I think like everyone in 2017, watching what was happening with him: watching him in the news every day. And then I think there was a particular moment around, I guess what they called the sort of locker room-Billy Bush incident.
 
CARMEN: Oh my gosh.
 
DAVIDA: There was a real clear moment where I just like, are we gonna elect this person who’s saying it’s okay to grab women by the pussy? And how can we be putting these sexual predators in the highest office of our land? That was a clear moment to me of like, how can I sort of connect my skills and my passions and my interests? What can I actually do that would be actionable to sort of speak my voice? And so, I do sort of on the daily, we work with lifestyle brands. That’s what we do here at Studio 71. In this department, we work with brands and help them with social media strategy, video programming, social content. How could we kind of marry that proficiency with something that effectively speaks our mind and helps to contribute to our democracy? So, kind of a lofty goal, but it came to me that we could invent a lipstick, a very simple, clear, tangible item, a pink lipstick. ‘Cause at the time, this was really a moment around rallying around women’s healthcare and accessible healthcare and Planned Parenthood and this whole debate of should we enable women to exercise their God-given rights or should we not?
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: And so, it just kind of all fell into place late one night of like a pink lipstick that speaks to women and pink for Planned Parenthood and pink for women’s rights. And just like a very simple, it wasn’t meant to be some big, heady idea. It was like lipstick as a symbol of our freedom, as a symbol of our speaking out.
 
CARMEN: Kiss My Pink launched in 2017, with Planned Parenthood earning 100 percent of all net proceeds from lipsticks sold. The star-splashed campaign promoting the shade radiated with girl power and feminist optimism. And the beauty world was taken by storm because of it.
 
[recorded clip plays with upbeat music in the background]
 
SALEM: Hi. My name is Salem Mitchell.
 
AJA: Aja Dang.
 
NIA: I’m Nia Souix.
 
SALICE: Salice Rose.
 
SHAMELESS MAYA: Many of my followers know me as Shameless Maya.
 
SALEM: I’m very happy to be a part of this collaboration and join The Lipstick Lobby.
 
CARMEN: The rest, as they say, was herstory. Except Lipstick Lobby’s story doesn’t stop there.
 
DAVIDA: Then, that was really, you know, that was like let’s just move. Let’s just see what we can do. Let’s get this lipstick out. Let’s see what happens, right? There wasn’t a ton of expectation. We were just so much in this kind of reactive wanting to be timely. So, we got the pink lipstick out, and we actually had a good amount of recognition. We were sort of surprised; this little project that was so meaningful to us, but the world respond in any way. It was great! It was such a moment. We had touched on something, and we had touched people. And there was a response. And I was like, oh, man. We’ve gotta do another shade.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: We should keep moving. It’s not like we really know how to be making lipsticks. It’s not exactly like I went to school for this. But in a way, like I said, we sort of had the fundamental skills to create content and make these photo shoots happen with our incredible, incredible team. But in a way, it was also very new and very wild. So, we were kind of like, hey. Let’s go again. OK. Next shade, next color.
 
CARMEN: Next up was the ACLU, represented by a bold red called Outrage that came out in the midst of Trump’s then just-escalating attacks on the rights of trans kids and Muslim travelers. Then came Fired Up, the orange shade that emerged in the wake of the Parkland shooting and benefitted the Brady Center. The line was capped by In The Clear, the Steinem-approved and designed lip balm.
 
CARMEN: And at the time you thought it was such a, like you said before, that you thought it was sort of like, oh, this idea is pretty—it’s a very long wire—this idea’s pretty out there, like in the Studio 71 fam. But now, sort of years later, how do you feel like it has either maybe shaped the work that is happening on the studio side or sort of vice versa? How do you feel like it now fits into all this other work that you all are doing?
 
DAVIDA: Yeah. I mean weirdly, it totally fits in even though it doesn’t at all. I mean, it’s not at all what any other team is working on. It’s not really the business model. But in a way, it really has a home here. I think every single person who works here knows that this is a project that was born and bred from these offices, that at some point has had almost every single person at a march with us, at an event, setting up lipsticks, helping us with artwork, helping us design our assets, weighing in on color choice, testing swatches on their arm. There was a good two weeks out of my life where I was like, “Hey! Hey, person walking by the kitchen. What do you think of this orange? How does that work with your skin tone? How does this work with your skin tone?” Using the office essentially as a total laboratory for people and seeing what’s working for people. This was our, you know, this is how it all incubated. So, everyone’s been involved.
 
Everyone’s offered 2 cents or in some cases, 4 cents. Some people have over-centsed, and it’s been very collaborative. And I feel really lucky that I’ve had leadership that supports what I wanna do as just a person, as a human beyond just sort of as an employee. And that recognizes that we’re at our happiest when we can feel fulfilled on both a professional and a personal level. So, it’s a win-win for me and hopefully for the company. And hopefully also just a great case study for us to be able to say to our sales team and to our partners and who else we, you know, anyone who we traffic with and work with, that this is something we do at Studio 71 because we’re a company that cares. Bottom line. And I think we’re lucky that we just happen to be housed within a larger company that has a lot of young people, a lot of cool activists, progressive, smart, caring people who just get it and have embraced this pocket of what we do, so. So, yeah.
 
CARMEN: Where do you think it’s going in 2020?
 
DAVIDA: Oh, mama. 2020. We’re definitely working on something around civic participation and voting and all that coolness. And if not, we will still have, merch and t-shirts and all sorts of cool stuff that point to that issue on our website in addition to the lipsticks that we always have for sale.
 
CARMEN: The full suite of what you can snag on LipstickLobby.com ranges from t-shirts and tote bags to throw pillows and phone cases, all of which are stamped with slogans like “Lipstick It To The Man” or illustrated to show women puckering up and rising up. It’s not an unfamiliar sight to many of us, some of whom are exhausted by the increasing corporate appropriation of feminism to sell products.
 
But that’s the cherry on top when it comes to what Davida’s cooking up. This isn’t a capitalist attempt to sell feminism to the highest bidder. Instead, Lipstick Lobby is a profit-making venture driven by a calling to raise awareness, spread the wealth, and most importantly, walk the talk. Lipstick Lobby is, in so many ways, not your typical beauty brand. Like a, it is housed here, not in a beauty house, but—
 
DAVIDA: Right. Look around. It is quite beautiful, but no obvious beauty signs.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.] It is. And everyone is so beautiful! But what are the other ways that you feel like the line, the brand sort of flips or subverts that beauty culture with those feminist principles? Like, how is feminism sort of baked into the DNA of these products in a way that most women-targeted products are not sort of as inherently feminist?
 
DAVIDA: Mmhmm. I always tell people we’re a social justice brand. And then I’m like, “Oh yeah. We’re a social justice beauty brand.” I feel compelled to add that in.
 
CARMEN: [Chuckles.]
 
DAVIDA: ‘Cause if you look at it as a lipstick, you know that’s the category it lives in. But we really lead with the cause. We lead with our partner charity. We lead with what’s going on in our times in society. We lead with the problem we’re trying to speak to or address. We don’t really lead with like, “Oh that plum shade’s gonna kill it for spring.” I mean we hope it does, and we hope we’re right on the money with sort of the shades we put out. We do a lot of research about the right pink, and is it too much of a blue pink, or it is that pink going to be attractive and flattering to all skin tones, right? ‘Cause we obviously have this very inclusive bent. So, the beauty aspect, by all means, is there. We’re vegan, we’re cruelty-free, we’re made in the U.S., we have a great product, a beautiful matte lipstick. But it is so not about the beauty. At the same time, it’s so much about what’s going on now? What do we care about? What makes sense for us to champion? Who can we partner with? Who can we stand with? Who can we rise with?
 
It’s ironic because I’m in this world of sort of beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and that’s sort of the day job. But in this regard, it’s the secondary thing. It’s like how do we check all the boxes so you have a beautiful product? But how do we really have a partner that makes sense for us? And how do we, you know, like we’re doing our shade for Fired Up, this one here for gun violence prevention with the Brady Center, this was all about helping to protect the lives of children and people. And how do we put an end to reckless gun violence in our country? It’s not at all about how did we make this perfect orange? You know, what’s the molecular formula?
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: We’re tackling such a big idea. And obviously, we’re such a small part of that solution. I mean, again, we’re a small brand, and we’re not on the front lines the way our partners are on the front lines. But it’s so much about like, okay, these people are coming into our story. We’re gonna photograph survivors. We’re hearing these beautiful testimonies. We’re on set, taking video. We have a bunch of women crying, in tears. It’s a very vulnerable experience to be sort of documenting the photography and the assets we end up using and generating with the world. So, with that level of sensitivity, it really can’t be about the lipstick. The byproduct is the lipstick. And what hopefully should feel forward to the brand is the story and the cause.
 
CARMEN: Lipstick Lobby’s ad campaigns are more likely to feature social justice activists and icons than fashion models. And in addition to showing off the lips of their given subjects, the focus of each photo might be the anti-violence slogans on their arms and cheeks. And instead of naming each tube after a decadent dessert or a whimsical memory, Lipstick Lobby’s shades harken back to activist sentiments about incarceration and reference pussy hats. All of that is by design. And it’s made possible by a creative and corporate process that puts impact at the center instead of profit margins.
 
How do you all pick an organization or a cause? How do you pick the color that goes with that cause? How have you sort of developed, like what goes into developing one of these lipsticks? What is that process on the behind-the-scenes look like?
 
DAVIDA: I’m motivated by the situation. I see there’s room in the market for a pink lipstick that speaks to Planned Parenthood and blah blah blah. And it’s sorta like, OK, where do we go from there, and how do we sort of backwards kinda look back and make this sort of methodical business plan? How does this run like a business? And in a way, it kind of doesn’t. It runs like a heartbeat, like following where your heart follows. And I know that sounds really cheesy!
 
CARMEN: [Chuckles.]
 
DAVIDA: But I mean this is how we began. It was a bunch of girls that were like, oh my god! Do you believe what’s happening in this world? What can we do? Let’s get out and do it. And we were lucky to have that validation, and we could go do that. And then it was sort of like, oh, the ACLU. This seems really topical. I mean it’s evergreen, but also topical in the way of what was happening with transgender bathrooms. And then when I was reading about Parkland and the 17 students who were murdered at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school, it’s sort of like, wow! This is really speaking to me, speaking to my heart. And this feels like not only a feminist issue but a global issue. And it felt, it just felt right. The same thing with our last shade with Gloria Steinem. And we did actually, it wasn’t a shade, so much of a lipstick shade. It’s a Vitamin E lip balm, and we partnered with the unPrison Project. And 100 percent of net proceeds go back to unPrison, to help support women who’ve been in prison, help support their families, help them with literacy skills, help them with training so that they can get back on their feet once they’re out of prison. It’s an incredible organization started by one woman named Deborah Jiang-Stein, who also was born in a prison and the author of a book called Prison Baby.
 
But that was also very much like we have an opportunity to, in this case, shed light on a much smaller organization. This is not the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. This is, hey, women out there, do you know about this great woman doing great work for women in prisons? And so, it has been very organic, and we’ve been lucky that we’ve been able to use sort of our gut as the guide and pivot accordingly. That said, I still wanna keep it topical. So, as we kind of look to the future of what’s happening with voting, what’s happening with immigrant rights, what’s happening with climate justice and sort of the Green New Deal, we have a lot of sort of points on the map that we do wanna address. But we feel grateful that we have that freedom to sort of go where the heart goes.
 
CARMEN: The starting point for Lipstick Lobby’s line is also about chasing change instead of latching on to trends. And whereas most beauty brands will gladly tell you what’s best for your face, your lifestyle, your dating life, and your self-esteem, Davida and her team do a lot of listening instead, to advocates fighting on the front lines of their movements who know best what reflects their values and will advance their causes. What have been some of the reverberations of the project for the organizations that are involved, for you and your team?
 
DAVIDA: Just starting with the most recent, I was able to take my daughter, Roxanne, to the Women’s March in L.A. And I could tell you, the first Women’s March I went to sort of with posters and stickers, like, “Hey! We’re the Lipstick Lobby.” And not that people are like, “Oh yeah, we’ve been reading about you all day.” We’re not super famous.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: But just this idea of we had a really clear perspective. I had really sort of reached across the aisle and sort of made new friends and had connections and sort of knew where my positioning was from a brand, but also as just personal. And to be able to bring my daughter to that and say, “Hey, look at this cool project mommy’s working on.” And she was wearing a “Lipstick it to the Man” shirt. And actually, she came with my mother. So, it was like three generations of women trying to lipstick it to the man.
 
CARMEN: Oh my gosh!
 
DAVIDA: It’s really gratifying to be able to show her my work and see that reflected back in her eyes. She’s eight, and it’s really special. She’s seen the whole journey. She was my first lipstick model. She was in my Planned Parenthood campaign. She’s on the website. She’s the little girl in little curls that’s all about it. So, that’s been really personal. We also have been under attack like anyone else who’s made a strong statement. When we came out with our first shade being about Planned Parenthood, there were a lot of people on the Internet that were not happy about an association with abortion. And I’ve never really put my views out there so publicly. So, you can see the goods and the bads.
 
And I think what’s been something I never had planned for in starting this has been this sort of immense friendship, these immense sort of incredible connections I’ve had with the women who’ve come on board to be a part of this process and to be a part of the Lipstick Lobby, effectively The Lobby, right? We have this core group of team who are amazing, who the campaign after campaign, just drop what they’re doing, drop their expensive day rate. They’re really top of their game, world-class photographers, producers, stylists, art directors that jump on board to make everything so beautiful and put their whole life aside. You know, get on a plane, come to New York, spend all this time prepping. And they just do it because they love it, and we all feel so good about it.
 
And then there’s this sort of wider circle of fans, of commenters, of sort of friends on social that have been a consistent voice cheering us on, and they’re always in background but always with us. So, I think we didn’t realize how meaningful that would be to keep this going, not only for the good that it’s doing for our organizations and hopefully for the larger, for the world in some way, but also, connecting other women that have these passions, connecting them to be able to do this good work and show them how good that feels.
 
CARMEN: Yeah! And I assume that it’s also been sort of a learning experience, right?
 
DAVIDA: Yeah. As you go in and you go to support someone like the Brady Center who’s been doing it a million years, I mean they authored the background checks. They’ve been on the front lines. They are in the policy work. They’re not just some pretty social media organization. They are doing the heavy lifting on this issue. To try to support them, it’s like how do you shine a light on something so much bigger than you? And how do you play a role that’s appropriate? How do you kinda know your swim lane, you know? It’s sorta like we’re this, from out of nowhere, lipstick brand, and here they are, this massive policy organization that has a lot of really deep roots and doing deep work. So, it’s sort of about keeping yourself in your right lane while doing what you can. I mean, things that we can do to help them is like, okay, maybe we can help with social media awareness. We can help with some events. We can help get some talent and creators out into your world. We can help associate you guys with the lipstick, although that’s pretty small in comparison to what your daily to-do list looks like. So, I think sort of realizing there’s this, almost like this beauty in realizing how small your effort is in comparison to this tapestry of other people, women, orgs, who’ve been doing it so much longer and so prolifically. So, kinda feels nice to be new in that world and being embraced by these other leaders and also trying to respect those differences, respect that they’re really deep in the work, and you’re trying to partner in a way that’s symbiotic.
 
CARMEN: I didn’t need to look far to find proof that Lipstick Lobby is committed to baking their values into every step of the process. The evidence was hanging on the wall behind me. Because every photo campaign is built by the movement their products will benefit. I want the full Gloria Story.
 
DAVIDA: Oh my gosh.
 
CARMEN: How does it happen? When does it start?!
 
DAVIDA: It was about a one-year story.
 
CARMEN: [Chuckles.]
 
DAVIDA: It was me chasing her team for a year. That’s the simple story. It was like me being like, “Gloria? Gloria! I love.” No. We put out our pink, our first shade, Kiss My Pink, like we talked, about for Planned Parenthood. And we sent her a box going, eh, she’ll never open it. She’ll never get it. You know, pipe dreams, whatever. But fine, send it off some address we got, god knows where. Somehow it reached her. She got it. Her/her team posted something on social media. And we were like, what?! Did Gloria just tag us?!
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: People in our office, we’re like losing our mind. And keep in mind also that this is an office that traffics a lot in the world of talent. We are effectively a talent management company in some aspects, and we work with talent all the time. But to have someone like a Gloria Steinem is just unthinkable for us, is just so beyond words. And so, after that, I guess we had their contact information, and we were like, “Thank you so much. This post means the world to us. It’s just such a validation of the work we’re doing. We’re so grateful.” Like, “What are you doing next Tuesday?” No, but it was really like, “How can we continue this dialogue? How can we get your blessing to do something different? Or what are you into? How can we kind of work in tandem?” So, I probably spent the next nine to 12 months emailing the hell out of her team and just saying like, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t back down from this! Can we do something together? What are you into?”
 
And then I actually went to an event. They invited me to an event in New York. I was in New York at the time, and I was able to connect more deeply with her team. And they introduced me to her, and she’d said something to me actually like, I couldn’t really understand what she was saying at the time. She was busy, and she was speaking on this panel. And she said something to the effect of like, “You know I don’t really wear lipstick.” And I was sorta like, [nervous chuckle], “OK, Gloria.” Like is she just trying to tell me she doesn’t like my products? But I’m like, fine, whatever. You don’t like lipstick.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: And then I kind of thought about it later like, oh! Is she may be kind of saying she would do something with me if it wasn’t a lipstick? What’s happening here? And then I kind of started going back to her team again to say like, “Is there a chance for a partnership here? Is Gloria really trying to tell me she wants to do a lip balm or a lip gloss or a non-color lip product?”
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.] I love this. It’s like, I don’t really wear lipstick. You’re like, “Lip balm?”
 
DAVIDA: Yeah.
 
CARMEN: Like, “Lip venom? Lip mask?” Like what can we—
 
DAVIDA: Anything. Forget the lips: like cheek, anything, nose, work up the face. It’s all good. Just what—
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.] Face wash? [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: I know, exactly. Exactly. It was sort of like, what are you telling me, Gloria?! I was like this moment when this godly whisper in your ear. And I think I was probably just so starstruck I wasn’t really getting the message. I think she was trying to say, “I like what you guys are doing. I like your intent, but if you wanna do something with me, I’m not a lipstick girl.” Like duh, she’s not. Okay. That’s pretty obvious. So, then we said, “Could we do a lip balm or just a very simple kind of natural thing?” And it evolved to be a Vitamin E lip balm. She was really comfortable with that idea, and she felt like that was on brand for her. And then we started talking about okay, what beneficiary would this be for? And I’m probably throwing out these big names ‘cause I’m thinking she wants to stand by a very tried and true organization, ala Planned Parenthood or NRDC or whatever it may be. And they were like, “No. No, no, no. None of these big guys.” I’m sure she’s worked with all of them. And of course, she blesses them all as good work. But she was very intent on doing something a little more grassroots and a little more real. And so, she proposed a couple organizations that I had never heard of. One of them being the unPrison Project. And I was like, what is this? I never heard of this! And we decided this is really cool. What a rad opportunity to shine light on a very small female-led, all around this one woman, Deborah, and her big dreams of helping other women who’ve been incarcerated.
 
So, we took a chance. We’re like, well, we’ve got Gloria, and she obviously knows what she’s doing. It’d be really great to help partner and bring Deborah’s story to life. So, we started doing the artwork. We actually worked with this amazing artist named Amanda Oleander who designed the graphics and the packaging. And actually if you see—
 
CARMEN: That’s so cute.
 
DAVIDA: You guys out there can’t see, I’m sorry, but Carmen can see we’ve got Gloria front and center in her little aviators there. We did a lot of iterations of this story.
 
CARMEN: It’s so sweet!
 
DAVIDA: Yeah. And so, Gloria— And actually, this is a testament to her and probably just so on brand for her. We submitted a lot of drawings that first felt like, Gloria, here, this is your face. And they were like, uh-uh. This isn’t about me as Gloria. This is about women, right? It’s about us holding hands together. That’s been her story from day one. So, very fitting that she would help navigate us to creating artwork that felt a little bit more about all women and all stories. So, hopefully in the artwork, you can see we’ve got a woman with a head wrap. We’ve got women that look different nationalities and different sort of storylines. So, that’s a very long-winded way of telling you how the Gloria story came to be.
 
CARMEN: That is the only way—
 
DAVIDA: Sorry, man. It was not short.
 
CARMEN: —to tell a Gloria Steinem story. [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: I know, I know. And then after, and when she came on set, by the way, let me just say, she came on set with laryngitis, couldn’t speak, poor thing, was so sick, and still showed up, did not flake out. She knew we were all flying in from L.A. She probably knew this was like my crowning achievement moment of all life.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: She knew Davida’s story.
 
CARMEN: She’s like, I have to meet this crying girl. [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: I know. She’s like, this girl is never gonna be able to top this story, so I’m not gonna let her down. It’s gonna be my one and only party trick, party conversation. But she showed up. She showed up sick as hell, basically gesturing to people ‘cause she couldn’t speak. And she couldn’t have been more gracious. And the first thing she did was she was on set with us all day. Then she was in a Vogue interview ‘cause we were able to basically get a Vogue exclusive because of all the amazing sort of, you know, the glory of it all. So, it was a big day for her. It was an even bigger day for us. It was a bunch of women just left, oh, we were, we were in awe of her and just sort of her grace and beauty.
 
CARMEN: Well, and then the other story I’m curious about is the Brady story. You sort of talked about how emotional that campaign was. What was it like producing that campaign?
 
DAVIDA: Honestly, just even the question, I get, ugh, it’s maybe, I have to say one, look these, all these little lipstick projects, they’re all my babies. So, you can’t ever choose one over the other. But for some reason, the emotional heartache was so profound with this campaign. I mean, it was only a few months after the shooting. And to have people so raw and so new to this experience come out from Parkland. But also what I think people might not realize is the objective of that campaign was to show the tapestry of gun violence over the years. So, we wanted to get as wide a cross-section as we could of gun violence survivors. So, it was young kids, people, these 17-year-olds, 16-year-olds, but also people from the Washington Navy shooting, people from Columbine, tragedies that happened 10, 20, 30 years ago. People who were shot, or families’ victims, from random, senseless acts of violence: you know, walking down a street, someone got shot versus someone who is held in a bunker versus someone who was at a school.
 
So, having these ages all together to say their stories was really powerful. And having all these victims in one room for this kind of photo shoot experience where you have these kids all intermingling, talking about their stories was just very profound. And then we did a lot of video content, sort of these little kind of docu testimonial stories, hearing in depth after they went through their kind of photo moments, sitting down with us and telling their stories, just raw live. Like tripod up, just talk, like say what you wanna say. And very little prompting is necessary before someone is in the heart of telling their story as it relates to being a victim or a survivor of gun violence. We had a mother who had come with her surviving daughter. She had just lost her other daughter, a high schooler. And to sit there at a photo shoot for a lipstick campaign and tell your story is so harrowing and was just like, wow.
 
And all of our sets are primarily women. So, you have a bunch of women photographers. You have all these women producers who’ve been in the thick of these details. They’ve been flying people from across the country. They’ve been up all night trying to orchestrate the details. Everyone is just so wired in to what’s happening and so focused and so passionate. And then you have these amazing talent and faces come in to tell their stories. It’s just, it’s like, it’s too much for any one moment. And even though I say, “photo shoot,” it’s really not even that. It’s just this moment to embrace these new stories. And we’re capturing all of this on photo and video, but to say, “Oh, it’s a photo shoot,” like you come take a photo shoot for a jewelry line, it doesn’t feel like that at all.
 
CARMEN: Yeah.
 
DAVIDA: And all these people are so happy to be there because I think they know we’re honoring their stories versus exploiting their stories or just trying to sell a product because they know the profits go back to the organizations. They know we’re there. We come in kindness, we come in peace, and we’re here to sort of help them tell their stories. And that’s a big part of these sort of lipstick campaigns is, I always call them campaigns even though they’re lipstick shades. And so, internally, we always have a debate of like, are we talking about it like it’s a shade or a campaign, or what is the story behind it?
 
But Fired Up is really, really personal. And also, Fired Up was named by the Parkland students. When I went to D.C., the Brady folks had invited me out to do the March for Our Lives right before our shade had launched. And me, again, being like all into the copy and the words, and I had like 5 billion spreadsheets of what this was gonna be called. And then I’m like, this is dumb. Why am I naming this? This should be kind of like of the people that have a connection to this. So, I had polled some of the Parkland kids of what feels right to you? And there was this resoundingly love for Fired Up, because it was a name that didn’t have this sort of pity, this sort of sadness. It was about energizing. And you know the whole thing around enough of the thoughts and prayers, and let’s move into action and let’s get off our ass and do stuff. And I think everyone wants to feel like they’re doing stuff. They’re not lamenting; they’re doing.
 
So, that was really exciting to have them choose the name to feel like it was sort of putting this back in their hands again, to that point of like, we’re just such a small slice of all these movements. We come in, we have a moment, we try to do whatever work we can do that’s profound, but we’re such a small piece of it. And to be able to put that kind of ownership back on the people in the movement, the people living this reality every day, it’s so gratifying, and it’s so right. And I hope all the rest of the names can be chosen that way because instead of me sitting around like an idiot with a spreadsheet, it should really be like, where does this feel right? Where’s this gonna be a home?
 
CARMEN: Building a beauty product that subverts the norms and practices of an entire industry isn’t easy work. But for The Lipstick Lobby team, it’s been totally worth it. What are some of the challenges?
 
DAVIDA: The challenge is that we’re a brand that cares and we’re a brand that gives back and we’re a brand that donates 100 percent of net profits and all this stuff. And yet, on the manufacturing side, no one really cares. We’re not really getting any favors as we make stuff and we’re manufacturing and we need to go to the box guy to get the boxes. We need to go to the graphic people to get the graphics. We need to go get the tubes and the buh buh and all of that stuff. And can I tell you? Those people don’t care. So, we’re kind of paying just up the nose with regular costs the way anyone else on sort of a B2B business side is doing it. And then we’re going out to sell stuff, and then we don’t really make any money. Then all the net profits go back to these partners. So, we’re trying to get really, really smart about who we partner with and find people on the kind of old-school manufacturing front that really give a shit and giving us some incentives to work with them because they believe in the product, and they believe in what we’re doing.
 
So, I think that the challenge has been the development and sort of research phase, to make that smarter and to partner with likeminded people. It’s been hard to find on those steps of the process. That really is a challenge, the development and the making of the goods, you know? ‘Cause that’s not really our strong suit here. We’re not really makers of things. We’re not on an assembly line, right? All that outsourcing, we make sure we have great people. But it’s hard to manage that. We really get fixated on the messaging and the cause and the donations and all that good stuff. So, I think making it has been an obstacle, and then the timeliness of it, right? We’re such a tiny, small team, and we do work on other projects. So, how can we keep the torch burning and meet all the amazing sort of demands of what’s happening and the issues that are popping up. How do we kind of as a two, three, four person team ever rise to all these opportunities and do that lipstick shade and do this thing and do that collaboration?
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: We wanna be out there in such a big way, but we are tiny.
 
CARMEN: I love the idea of, you know, that you all are trying to walk the walk as you talk the talk. So, you’re trying to really build a product that reflects the values of the brand that’s vegan, that’s cruelty-free, that’s made in the U.S. And I assume that was also really challenging, but I also feel like the fact that you all were able to achieve it sort of shows that a lot of other corporations should be able to make their products in line with those kinds of values as well, right?
 
DAVIDA: Absolutely.
 
CARMEN: ‘Cause you’re much tinier.
 
DAVIDA: Yeah, you can see. Look, it’s Tiny Tim over here.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: We are like, it doesn’t really get any less-resourced. So, here you go. And yes, it was totally a point that we wanted to stick to. It was important for us to understand that our manufacturing was ethical and that we checked all of the important boxes. But I do always tell people, more than this being about the lipstick or the quality of the lipstick or all the attributes, it’s about the social impact. So, even I have to remind myself too, to come back from that story and remember that, look, it’s not necessarily gonna be a change-your-life lipstick, but it’s changing someone’s life. And that’s the point.
 
CARMEN: Mm.
 
DAVIDA: That is the point. It’s like, it’s gonna be a beautiful red, 100 percent. Do we stand by that? Yes. Are you gonna want this in your purse 24/7? Yes, yes, yes. All day long. But it’s not what drives us to make the product, and it’s not the first thing we think about, you know? So, yeah. And as a producer, as someone who’s been producing content forever, the idea of coming together with these amazing women making the next campaign, I can already feel the tears streaming down my face of who and how and just how we make this beautiful thing happen. That’s the driver.
 
CARMEN: In the end, Lipstick Lobby has done more than just create an affordable and accessible rallying cry that you can carry in your purse. They’ve raised the bar for the beauty industry. They set a standard for creating feminist products designed with an actual feminist agenda in mind. They uncovered the unique power of making the personal, and the pretty, damn political. They helped launch a beauty revolution.
 
I love that. All of these lipsticks are, they’re built by the movement too. It’s not, which also is, I think, part of the uniqueness of the model, is that it’s not a company saying we’re gonna do all the stuff we wanna do, and then we’ll give you 5 percent of the money we make. Instead, it’s really, it’s involving the people who are involved in the cause, involving the people who are involved in the issue, and really bringing them to the table, which I think is incredible.
 
DAVIDA: Yeah.
 
CARMEN: And it makes me wonder too, I feel like there’s been a feminist Renaissance in beauty. And I feel like a lot of it has started post-2016 when feminism went from being sort of something some people like to being something that, mm, I would say now, I mean, I know the majority of women identify with it, but also just, like you said, it’s become so apparent that sexism exists in the country because of some of the men in charge….
 
DAVIDA: Don’t name names.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.] Don’t ever say that name on this podcast.
 
DAVIDA: He who shall not be named.
 
CARMEN: But where do you feel like Lipstick Lobby has fit in all that? Do you feel like you’ve seen yourselves being leaders in that space? Do you feel like you’ve helped that shift? Do you feel like you’re riding that wave? Like are there other folks that you look to as a model? Or how do you feel like you fit into that sort of this feminist reinvention of beauty?
 
DAVIDA: Yeah. I mean, not to be a jerk, but I do feel like we are one of the leaders. There’s a very small handful of like one or two other brands that were doing a similar thing at a similar time, had very different messaging, had very different creative, and a very different donation policy, right? And we’re 100 percent net. We are not in it for the cash flow. I can tell you that. I mean look these digs.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: This is not like we’re building the Lipstick Lobby empire. Although I wish we could have both, but it was not meant to be that. I think we really started from a very original place, really core to the ideas and core to the causes. I think we’ve even seen other bigger brands effectively taking a little bit of what we’re doing. I won’t name names, but we’ve seen brands. We’ve had partners that said, “Oh, we can’t really play with you. You’re too political.” And then we’ve seen them gone off and do a diluted version of what we were doing. ‘Cause no one wants to really be that scary and put themselves out there, right? They don’t want the criticism. They don’t want the political aversion. So, we take that as a compliment when people are effectively ripping us off. But then I kind of come back to like, the more the merrier. If people are ripping us off in the name of activism and giving back and speaking to these causes, then screw it. Let them. You know, this isn’t like an IP issue here. Let them rip us off. What a compliment: a compliment to our creative team, to our imagery, to our ideas.
 
And because we are so small, I think people feel like, oh, no one will really notice. Again, we’re not like Chanel, Revlon, Mac. We’re not this massively public brand. So, when you kinda take a little bit from some of the little guys, it feels okay. And in this case, we’re kinda like, yeah, fine. Because that’s our messaging. Our messaging isn’t about profit. Our messaging is about holding hands in a similar narrative. So, we’ve seen that, and yet we still feel like we are kind of thought leaders in this space of a social impact beauty brand, and about using your mouth to speak up and say something good while looking pretty good at the same time. So, I guess really the summary is, the more the merrier. And people that wanna jump on the bandwagon of good, I’d say please don’t take our fonts and our colors, but, take the messaging. Take the idea of donating to something you care about.
 
CARMEN: You’ve raised a lot of money for these causes through these lipsticks, right?
 
DAVIDA: We technically don’t disclose our numbers.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: But I will tell you we do a minimum $10,000 donation before we partner. So, for some brands, again, or some orgs, if they’re small, that’s like, yes! Great. Now I can plan these three new fundraiser trips.
 
CARMEN: Yeah!
 
DAVIDA: And for some organizations, it’s like, fine. That didn’t do a lot for us, but thank you for your effort. So, we have our minimum donation. And kind of what I was hitting on before, it’s not always about the financial donation. It’s about the resources and eyeballs that we help bring, right?
 
CARMEN: Mmhmm.
 
DAVIDA: If we work with all these great influencers, if we have Gloria Steinem or America Ferrera or we have Aja Dang or whoever, we have these amazing, a lot of them digital content creators that come from our world, our kind of Studio 71 world, how can we leverage these new sort of marketing allies to be a part of your team and to champion your causes? So, for us, that’s part of the reward. Like the connection between Deborah at unPrison Project and Gloria Steinem and Lipstick Lobby. And to be in the mix of uniting some of these forces, to me, that has reverberations much farther than whatever check that we could write, you know.
 
CARMEN: Yes!
 
DAVIDA: So, it’s about the connections. It’s about, like I mentioned, those long-lasting friendships. These women who come together every campaign, what other work will these women go on to do together with or without The Lipstick Lobby? It’s sort of like now they’re in this groove of doing amazing work for women, and they continue to do that. Like my friend Jill, who’s the senior producer at Nordstrom and has come on to really produce and have a heavy hand in the creative of this effort. She’s now doing all this amazing pro-social work. She’s worked on this cookbook. She’s working across so many different sort of give-back initiatives. And I think hopefully, Lipstick Lobby had a little part in sparking that for her, and she’s off and running. So, the idea that this becomes a catalyst for other women to do more change and more good in whatever communities they work in.
 
CARMEN: How has this work sort of shaped your own personal relationship with beauty?
 
DAVIDA: Yeah, I mean I think just, I’ve become a more particular consumer. I mean, that’s what I’ve wanted from our consumers. That’s what I see in my own choices. I’m definitely more familiar with ingredient story, what goes in the product, just learning that Because we have to make it. I’m more familiar with, I think just being aware of who’s doing something with their messaging. What is someone trying to say as a product? Because we’ve spent so much time fussing over taglines and copy and what are we saying and how important is that to someone? I think it’s really important. You know, what you are telling someone in a literal way with your copy, with your words, with your logo, brand ID, all that good stuff, what are you trying to tell people you’re about? It’s really important.
 
And I think, you know, I love the colors that we’ve developed. I love them. I love a strong lipstick color. I love the exact shade of red that is our Outrage or the exact pink that is the Kiss My Pink or the exact burnt orange that is our Fired Up, and we’ve spent a long time figuring out those shades. And I think through that experience, I’ve realized I can find something and have something that I love that is also something I love for the other reason of what it does and how it contributes in the marketplace.
 
So, I think as it pertains to beauty or even just fashion or foods that you eat, there’s no reason you can’t find some brand that you love holistically, right? You understand the packaging, you understand the messaging, you like what you’re eating or buying or wearing, and you also like what this brand is doing. Whether it’s like a Tom’s who really pioneered that one for one, or if it’s— You know, I mean there’s so many brands, especially in fashion now, that are taking a sustainable bend or recycled fabrics, whatever it may be. There’s no reason why you can’t find a product you love in a more 360 way. You don’t have to just love the way it looks or tastes or whatever. You can love what it’s doing holistically. And I love that I’ve learned that. ‘Cause I find that to be true now. I see that it can be true.
 
CARMEN: Lipstick has always been able to be wielded as a weapon for glamorous feminists throughout time. Lipstick Lobby reminded women everywhere that the power of a bold lip—or a well-hydrated pair of ‘em—is about being seen and heard and defying the code of silence that shapes so many women’s lives. By producing an affordable and ethical line of lipstick, Davida and her team are inviting feminists to indulge guiltlessly in something very fabulous. And they’re inviting women who may not see themselves as rabble-rousers into a movement that needs their voices now more than ever.
 
DAVIDA: We have a lipstick, it’s sort of, it’s a simple, it’s an affordable item. It speaks to kind of maybe sometimes a younger consumer, right, ‘cause it’s something they can afford. And so, this idea of finding a tangible moment in this sort of, in this Trump history, finding a tangible moment that really got people fired up: so, like the bathrooms or the hot mic tape or whatever it may be, it feels tangible to some people who are relating back to those issues instead of just so widely all these issues. So, it is both specific and sort of wider.
 
CARMEN: There’s probably a unique power in Lipstick Lobby bringing the beauty together with the feminist element. I just feel like that’s a unique orientation point. Do you notice that the people interacting with Lipstick Lobby maybe on social media or at events are people who really are learning because they were sort of looking from the lipstick side, and now they’re getting all of this political information that they didn’t know, they’re learning more, they’re connecting.
 
DAVIDA: Mmhmm. Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I mean definitely, I’d say our bigger support base is more of the cause-oriented, activist-oriented, and the target audience that we’re really trying to reach is just everyday lipstick wearer. Because, right, that’s where the opportunity is: just the everyday person who thinks, hmm, I’m gonna reach for a Chanel lipstick or a Revlon, which you can, and that’s fine. Or you’re gonna make that consumer choice, reach for something that makes a difference. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a win-win. And so, to be able to educate all those consumers about the power of their choice and to get a product just as good that also has additional sort of impact, that’s sort of my job, is like, how do I reach just the person who wants a red lipstick or a pink lipstick or a great Vitamin E lip balm? It’s like you’re gonna make that choice. You maybe don’t care about any of these issues. It’s still a win-win when you choose a brand like Lipstick Lobby.
 
And I think the overwhelming sort of what I get from the lipstick, let’s call it the lipstick team versus the social team, it’s sort of like shock. Like, oh wow, that’s crazy. You put these two ideas together. Like there’s no world in which their brain’s like, oh yeah, that makes sense: a marriage of lipstick and activism. And we definitely have had responses even from the quote “more feminist” side of like, what are you doing equating lipstick and feminism? And it’s sort of this anti-gender politics moment. And then I always come back to this really simple idea of like, at least we’re bringing awareness to the issue. You may or may not wear lipstick. You may or may not like our product. All good. We’re doing the simplest thing we can to raise awareness. And for a lot of young people, millennials, a lipstick, it’s like a t-shirt. It’s like a key chain. It’s a simple thing that you could do to sort of show your side, speak your mind. You don’t have to wear red. You could wear the clear. You can have a colorless. It’s really, it’s about the symbolic message as opposed to the lipstick being some signal of your sexual orientation or some political moment for you.
 
So, I think I’m constantly having to explain or teach or whatever it is.
 
CARMEN: [Chuckles.]
 
DAVIDA: It’s like, I don’t care if you even like lipstick. The point is we’re trying to do something that makes it easy for young people to get involved and speak their mind. And by the way, don’t buy the lipstick. Just donate to Brady or to the ACLU. That’s all good with us too. Or what we encourage people to do is, OK, you don’t wanna wear lipstick? Write a signal, like use a lipstick, and write a word on your body, on your arm, on your cheek just like we have in our campaigns. If you look at our website, you can see we use lipstick kind of just as art. It’s as an art form. It doesn’t always belong on the lip. Sometimes it’s an X or it’s a signal or it’s a check mark or write your graffiti, write your word. So, for us, it really, again, is about the symbolism and less so about the here’s a beauty product for you.
 
CARMEN: When you were sort of having this revelatory moment, when you were first coming up with this idea, what was that unique power that drew you to lipstick?
 
DAVIDA: I mean, I’m not gonna lie. I love a good lipstick.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: I like to wear a bold color. I just do. I think it’s powerful. I think it’s fun. I am not a person who shies away from a crazy fashion moment. And it’s both, like I said, sort of tangible but also symbolic, and it reads on so many levels to be able to speak up, use your mouth, use your voice. There’s endless puns, endless language that you can work in, which I also love, being a kind of a fanatical wordsmithy person. It’s just, it’s so powerful, right? And through time, there’s been so many symbols of women using lipstick in a very powerful way. So, I think, yeah, that was the motivation. I love a good lipstick. Why not create one that does some good?
 
CARMEN: I couldn’t possibly leave Lipstick Lobby HQ without swiping something on. But picking my shade was not easy. Luckily, the lobby team was on-hand and ready to help.
 
DAVIDA: So, wait. Did you go through all the shades? You’ve got the pink. You’ve got the orange lip balm. Red?
 
CARMEN: We did. Although I guess—
 
TEAM MEMBER: Yeah, we didn’t get to the lip balm.
 
CARMEN: Yeah, is Gloria in there?
 
TEAM MEMBER: Gloria’s in there.
 
DAVIDA: It’s not just another lip balm, Vitamin E lip balm.
 
TEAM MEMBER: Here. So—
 
CARMEN: It’s kinda nice that it…ooh…that it looks like a lipstick!
 
DAVIDA: It’s not an accident.
 
TEAM MEMBER: It’s important try it on like your skin or something so you can feel how soft it is.
 
CARMEN: Oh my god. It smells like wax, like lotion.
 
DAVIDA: It’s like buttah! Butter.
 
CARMEN: Am I supposed to touch it?
 
TEAM MEMBER: You can.
 
DAVIDA: You can. Once you go lip on, you’ll never go back.
 
TEAM MEMBER: Bit balm. [Laughs.]
 
DAVIDA: Yeah. It’s really, really soft.
 
CARMEN: Oh my god!!!
 
DAVIDA: It’s very emollient.
 
CARMEN: Yeah! Oh wow.
 
DAVIDA: That’s yours. You know what? That’s gonna be your token. Gloria wants you to have that.
 
CARMEN: [Gasps.] I would think so!
 
DAVIDA: Yeah.
 
CARMEN: I also do, I remember we talked about this, that I was like, I usually wear nude.
 
DAVIDA: Go for it. This is the closest to nude you’re gonna get.
 
CARMEN: And you were like, “We don’t make a nude, but we make a lip gloss!”
 
DAVIDA: There you go.
 
TEAM MEMBER: And here we are.
 
CARMEN: Okay.
 
DAVIDA: Okay. We need to walk people through a play by play.
 
CARMEN: Yeah. I’m gonna make all of the noise possible.
 
TEAM MEMBER: Yeah.
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.]
 
TEAM MEMBER: Helping.
 
CARMEN: I’m like, this is….
 
DAVIDA: No pressure. [Light metal clanking.] Right now, she’s undoing the cap.
 
CARMEN: And then—
 
DAVIDA: Step two.
 
CARMEN: Okay.
 
TEAM MEMBER: Twisting the cap.
 
CARMEN: Here we go. I feel like I’m at a sleepover. Like I’ve got two people watching me put lipstick on.
 
TEAM MEMBER: Yes!
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.] Obviously, at all my sleepovers, I held a microphone.
 
TEAM MEMBER: And a camera, yeah. [Chuckles.]
 
CARMEN: [Laughing.] And was being photographed! [Sings.] Oh my god! Oh! My! God! This is like—
 
DAVIDA: First reactions. Tell us, tell us.
 
CARMEN: This is so soft! This is the nicest lip balm I’ve ever used ‘cause it’s not like, when you use Chapstick or something, it feels very heavy, like cakey?
 
TEAM MEMBER: Mmhmm.
 
DAVIDA: Yeah.
 
CARMEN: This feels like I’m rubbing some natural moisturizer all over my lip.
 
DAVIDA: Well, it is natural.
 
CARMEN: Well, that is true.
 
TEAM MEMBER: It’s all-natural.
 
CARMEN: Oh my god. I love this.
 
DAVIDA: Yeah, and actually to the point of the Gloria story, she really did say she didn’t want something overly-shiny or overly-done. So, it has like a very small amount of sheen, so it just is pretty on the lips. But anyone can wear it, male, female, it’s not really gendered. It’s not really colored. It just has a very pretty natural sheen to it, and it looks good on you. I’m not gonna lie.
 
CARMEN: Thank you!
 
TEAM MEMBER: It does look good on you.
 
CARMEN: Thank you. That Vitamin E looks good on me.
 
DAVIDA: Take your vitamins. There you go.
 
TEAM MEMBER: [Chuckles.]
 
CARMEN: [Laughs.] I love this. And when I left the building, glossed up and feeling like my most fabulous, feminist self, I knew I had to get my hands on the rest of the line, stat. After all, what else am I gonna wear to the polls and the protests yet to come? That afternoon, I wanted to be In the Clear. But something tells me that all of us are gonna need to stock up on some Outrage and get more Fired Up in 2020.
 
[theme music]
 
Okay, folks. That’s all for this installment of Popaganda by Bitch Media. This episode was edited by Emily Boghossian and produced and hosted by me—feminist media-maker and movement-builder Carmen Rios—as part of our GLAMOUR season. Our jingle is by Mucks & Owen Wuerker. Today’s guest was Davida Hall, VP at Studio 71 and the boss behind Lipstick Lobby.
 
The conversation doesn’t stop here. Use the hashtag #Popaganda on social media to share your thoughts and feelings on the show. Follow Bitch @BitchMedia on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get more feminist stuff like this in your feed (algorithm willing). And find me @carmenriosss (with three s’s) for behind-the-scenes selfies and unsolicited excerpts from my secret Tumblr. You can also send me hate mail at carmenfuckingrios.com. Popaganda is produced by nonprofit, independent, Bitch Media.
 
Our feminist response to pop culture is funded entirely by our community. So, if you loved what you just heard you can support this show directly by joining The Rage, Bitch’s monthly membership program for fed-up feminists like you, at BitchMedia.org/rage. Members get print and digital subscriptions to Bitch magazine, a members-only Filled With Rage mug, and sweet other feminist swag! And if you wanna make sure you never miss an episode of the show, you know the drill: subscribe to Popaganda on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher for even more glamorous conversations about ethical and feminist fashion this season.
 
Stay tuned for the next episode, coming March 12 and featuring more feminist voices politicizing what we wear. Till then, I’ll see you on the internet.

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by Carmen Rios
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Carmen Rios is the host of Bitch’s Popaganda podcast. She’s also the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. magazine and co-host of Trigger Happy, a weekly webseries about women’s issues on Binge Network. She has been described as “petulant and idiotic,” “intimidating to some,” “vapid and uninteresting” and “brazenly misandrist.”