Six Years Later and Still Thriving

Karissa Bodnar (B.A., 2011) is working hard to make the world beautiful. Inspired to help cancer patients maintain a positive self-image while going through the rigors of chemotherapy, Karissa consulted engineers, dermatologists and more to design an innovative series of fake eyelashes that would become the first product of her company, Thrive Causemetics.

Since her initial success, Bodnar has grown her business into a force for change that she hopes will one day have a positive impact on all women in need; women who not only fight to survive life’s challenges, but “thrive” through them. Two years and one appearance at New York Fashion Week since she was last interviewed, the Department caught up with Bodnar to learn more about Thrive, the Beauty with a Purpose™ Giving Mission, and the future of the Seattle-based company.

How has Thrive, and its principle philosophy, “Beauty with a Purpose,” evolved?
“Our core mission of Beauty with a Purpose™ has always been about empowering and inspiring confidence in women through beauty; for every Thrive Causemetics product you purchase, we donate one to a woman in need. We started by giving back to women undergoing cancer treatment and we now give back to both cancer survivors and those thriving [overcoming] domestic violence. We want to continue to expand our impact in years to come to help all women in need.”

What has been your favorite experience of the last two years?
“I’ve been so privileged to impact the lives of women around the world through our Beauty with a Purpose™ Giving Mission. I have attended every Giving Event where women thriving through cancer or domestic violence receive Thrive Causemetics products, as well as complimentary makeup lessons from our amazing team of makeup artists around the globe. You can see the transformation in each woman’s self-esteem at the events. Most often, our beneficiaries have never met one another before the event, but they leave as a united community, and even become the inspiration for our new product names. For example, we named two of our Triple Threat Color Stick shades Maggie and Dionne, in honor of two women we helped through our Giving Mission. Working with People Magazine and ABC News, we even surprised Maggie in New York and Dionne in Las Vegas before Mariah Carey concerts!”

How do you strive to #BeBoundless in your professional and personal life?
“I believe in rejecting fear. Fear is real. It’s paralyzing and keeps us from reaching our full potential. Whenever I am feeling fearful, I write down everything bad that can happen. I did this before starting Thrive Causemetics. My list had two things: I could lose my life savings and look like a fool. The upside? We could empower women to feel confident and beautiful. If you are feeling fearful, I hope you try this exercise; you will often realize that “the worst” really is not that scary. You are unstoppable if you just believe. The University of Washington taught me to never give up in my pursuit to help others.”

What has surprised you the most during this endeavor?
“I have been amazed by the impact beauty products can have on a woman’s life. It goes beyond building someone’s self-esteem and is so much more than makeup. Our Beauty with a Purpose™ Giving Mission is a movement of empowerment that brings women together to support one another in our journey.”

What is one lesson learned that you wish you had known earlier?
“I wish I knew that your worst day is always the day before your best day. As they say, it is truly ‘darkest before the dawn.’ When you first start a company, the little things can seem like huge problems that will never go away; it can be overwhelming. Although it never gets easier, your ability to handle challenges that come your way will grow over time.”

What is next for you and the company?
“We are thrilled to continue our Beauty with a Purpose™ Giving Mission and delight our customers on I especially look forward to our luxury retail launch later in 2017. We love connecting with our customers on social media and even get their help creating new products through Thrive Lab, an online community where we receive feedback on what customers would like to see in our new products. We believe changing the world starts with a single ingredient, and that is why we create vegan formulas whenever possible. We have several new product launches in 2017 that our Thrive Lab and social media communities have helped to create including mascara, blush, bronzer, matte lipstick, new eyeshadow palettes and more! I am also proud to share that Thrive develops all our high-performance cosmetics right here in Seattle. As our customers and community inspire a large part of what we do, I want to continue growing our online family. Please connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!”