WHEN BEAUTY BRANDS ARE NOT IN FOR THE MONEY BUT THE POLITICS
There’s a new trend coming up in our industry and it’s founding small brands, we’re personally missing. They are in for the message, the aesthetics, the change, and not for being sold on the stock-market after a couple of years. Noto Botanics is such a brand: It was founded out of a need for more sustainable beauty-products with this magical smell, that turns heads in the streets. Make-up artist and founder Gloria Noto started creating products for her own use, until she realized that she wasn’t the only person missing a more inclusive beauty brand. Noto is not only a product, but a way of living, of doing business, of creating a world that makes more sense. It’s unisex, queer and sustainable.
We talked rainbow washing, empowerment, beauty standards and everyday awareness with Gloria.
NELE TÜCH Is it even possible to bring a new brand to the market, which doesn’t check
any of the boxes of sustainability, natural and organic ingredients or
GLORIA NOTO It shouldn’t be! At this stage in our evolution we must be more than considering these things, but making them a must – in turn making the environmental policies change around how companies are allowed to manufacture. Sustainability is systematic, it bleeds into how ingredients are chosen or harvested, how animals are treated, and how pollution plays a roll in the development of a product. We have to make these changes, and these changes have to begin at the top. And our governments finally have to start doing the right thing in protecting the planet over money.
NT So, you’re an aware person when it comes to the environment, but also body,
mind and spirituality. How does that translate into your everyday life?
GN It translates into how I spend my money, where I go to eat, who I choose to support, how I look at the world and how my mind speaks to itself. I believe the way you do one thing is often how you do most things. So being aware of the external world feeds into how I am aware in my internal world.
NT How did you come up with your first products? The Rooted Oil first was your personal smell…
GN I was obsessed with Tom Ford Vanilla Tobacco perfume. I wanted that smokey gender neutral smell on me at all times. But as I started to evolve into using natural ingredients, I wanted to translate that into what I was using on my body for scent. That was when I started researching all of the smokey essential oils I could find and using my senses and intuition to put the ones that I felt reflected the emotion I wanted to give. Then Rooted Oil was born, and I would get chased down by women and men asking me what I was wearing. I knew it was a good sign.
NT You’re working in the industry for more than 12 years, first as a makeup artist, now as an entrepreneur. How did beauty standards change in this period?
GN They have changed so much. I remember being on set, and anyone that came, who had beautiful natural tight curled hair, would always have to get it blown out straight and POC models were rarer. These days I see so much more diversity and celebration of natural features. We still have a long way to go but we are for sure more expanded.
NT And brands and magazines expect something else now?
GN They expect less creativity, less risk in expression, faster paced work, and easily digestible advertisements. It’s sad. I do miss the risks brands would take in their creativity.
NT In contrast to that, your brand has a really authentic approach to inclusivity. What do you think
about companies that are using LGBTQ+ as a marketing gag?
GN I think it’s totally a joke. The reason why I started my brand with its inclusive identity is because I was tired of brands targeting women in their verbiage, telling you you aren’t enough and you must look young and beautiful always, and what beauty means to them. Singling out those who may not identify as women or any gender. Now I see brands who claim inclusivity but when you look at their branding they hardly pepper in that idea. They just say it in their tag lines. I just want brands to come out with their own voice and let it come from a place of truth.
People are smart. They can sniff out a gag.
NT Do you think that if inclusivity and gender marketing is done right, it can change the perceptions of society?
GN One hundred percent. Society develops culture, and in return decides what is beautiful, popular, cool, trending. All of that bullshit. But it’s real. If we can help make inclusivity the norm, I am down for that. I think highlighting those who are making change in the world, expanding ideas and expanding what being open looks like, that is beautiful. In return changing the perceptions can lead to an evolution in sustainability, confronting racism, shining light on corruption and the like.
NT Your family is from Sicily, and traditionally Italians are really conservative in
terms of gender roles. How did this influence you while growing up?
GN I saw the gender rolls play a very big part in my family life. I was the youngest of five, and have three brothers. I always saw my brothers being taken care of so much more than myself and my sister. If there was a man in the house then there was a reason to cook, clean, or be present. Needless to say, I was often left to my own devices when my brothers weren’t around. I was also shown what being a “woman” was supposed to look like and mean. Also needless to say, I moved out when I was hardly 16 and didn’t follow any of these rolls.
NT I love that a lot of your campaign shots are featuring men as models, diverse
on gender- and ethnic spectra and also body hair in places normal beauty
brands wouldn’t show…
GN That is reality. We have to show the full spectrum of human identity. There are so many ways it’s done, so we are trying to represent those who are underrepresented in ways that feel exciting to us.
NT You’re queer, you’re outspoken, Noto is political and you even have a
product, from which 100 % of revenues go to LGBTQ+ causes. Do you only
receive empowerment or is there any backlash as well?
GN Agender Oil has a percentage of it’s DTC sales that go towards rotating organizations. We are so proud of that! Generally, we have all open arms. But there have been times when we’ve been told by some to keep our political views to ourselves. My response to that is, you should put your empowerment into your own hands and research the brands you support. Because if you do the slightest bit of research on us, you’ll know NOTO is not just a product, it IS political. We have to wake up and realize that everything we support, the food we eat, the shows we watch, the clothing we buy, is all trickled down into a bigger picture politic of some sort. And we need to be aware of what we are supporting if we claim we want change. We can be the change by knowing who we are giving the power to.