Q & A with JoAnn Fowler Founder of Sappho Cosmetics

Truth Beauty Community chats with JoAnn Fowler, a Canadian makeup artist and the founder of Sappho New Paradigm Cosmetics to find out the juicy details behind the brand.

JoAnn’s passion for makeup all started when she was 16 years old when she discovered eye contour! JoAnn says “Twiggy was the rage – huge eyes, skinny as a rail and here I was chubby with little eyes. So when I saw that you could make your eyes look bigger with contour and liner I was thrilled!” (For all my Gen x'ers & Gen z'ers - look up Twiggy - she was one of the first supermodels! Wild to see how concepts of beauty continue to change!)

As JoAnn began to expand her knowledge in the makeup industry her career continue to flourished. “I have worked as a MUA (Make-up Artist) for over 30 years, my first day calls were on Jump Street and I ended doing 6 years on the L Word as head of department” says JoAnn.  

In addition, JoAnn worked on two Twilight films and was nominated for an Emmy and won a Leo Award for best makeup.

But, how did her extravagant makeup career turn into an obsession with clean beauty? JoAnn says “an actress on the L Word named Mia Kirshner, introduced me to the concept of parabens and informed me on the controversy regarding toxic chemicals in makeup”.

After this conversation with Mia Kirshner, JoAnn borrowed a book titled “Not Just a Pretty Face” from her friend Norma who is Halle Berry’s Make-up Artist and (insider info - Norma will be the name of a foundation tone that is launching this fall). JoAnn continues and says “upon reading the first paragraph, my life changed”.  JoAnn began to realize that many people in her family suffered from and still are effected by cancer. This is what triggered JoAnn’s ambition towards building a clean makeup brand.

JoAnn states “in 2008 there were very few choices for organic or natural makeup, and I was working in film – I felt I could no longer be a MUA without being able to offer a viable alternative to what was out there”.  JoAnn says “I felt somewhat selfish as I did not want to take part in anyone getting cancer”. This is when JoAnn launched her first line of organic cosmetics called Sappho Organics.

However, the start-up of Sappho was not always so lavish, she had some obstacles to face as many entrepreneurs do. JoAnn explains “In 2015, I sued a would-be investor that owns Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co in a small claims court. I entrusted this person with hundreds of thousands of dollars of product, but then they stole my URLs (websites) and sold that product at a discounted rate!”. JoAnn says “he had 4 lawyers and I had none! It took me 2.5 years, I had to sell my home and use the funds to start Sappho New Paradigm. We are still a tiny company, but we are content to grow ethically”.

This situation changed JoAnn’s perspective on entrepreneurship. Now, JoAnn looks for the opportunity in any situation no matter how dire it may seem to herself or anyone else. She exclaims “when I was going through my court case, I was told by the mediator that I would lose. My only recourse was to just keep repeating over and over again that I believe this is the best possible thing to happen to me, no matter what it looks like to me or to anyone else!”. So, with a little bit of persistence, an immense amount of hard work, and vision Sappho evolve into the brand it is today.


Now, let’s talk about the makeup! Sappho Foundation is extremely unique as it is long lasting, satin coverage, no coconut oil so is amazing for combination skin, low heavy metal ethically mined minerals, certified organic oils including jojoba oil, which contains phyto-nutrients for the skin, no animal products/by products, vegan and smells amazing!

JoAnn says that the best way to apply Sappho foundation really depends on the coverage you want “for light you can use your fingers, for more consistent coverage a foundation brush, but I have to say – I am loving the buffer brush”.

Another common question about makeup is, if primer actually important?

JoAnn says “primer is of course important because it preps the skin with moisture so that foundation applies more easily. One thing that is unique about the Sappho primer is that it helps to reduce the appearance of large pores which is an added bonus, we had frankly not anticipated!”. 

What about the Sappho setting powder?

JoAnn explains “the Silky Setting Powder is designed for spot touches to lightly hit areas of bright shine that you would rather not accentuate”.  JoAnn would use Sappho's shader brush or even a smaller eyeshadow brush to hit specific trouble areas like the little crease around the nose, for example. JoAnn continues “You can also use it with a puff to set the makeup or a large blush brush to set if you want a look to last longer or a more matte appearance”.

JoAnn even shares her favourite products in the Sappho line “Hands down the foundation, mascara, concealers and CC creams ... but honestly there is not only one striker!” says JoAnn.

Overall, Sappho has an even brighter and more successful future coming.  JoAnn says “we are on a mission to celebrate the beauty of different faces by offering Sappho globally. We see ourselves not compromising on ingredients but getting even more selective and more sustainable in our offerings, by bringing together nature, art and well-being.  We want to, in step with our customers, redefine what beauty is to ourselves, our loved ones, our community and our planet”.

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