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Rock On, Rockeresque!

Bunny-friendly and beautiful to boot, Rockeresque Beauty Company is the marriage of two great concepts: looking your best and caring for critters many beauty companies use and abuse.

The company’s founder, Issanna, took a bad-ass look and gave it a good-girl kindness, producing rockstar makeup from vegan-only products and committing never to test on animals—ever. Committing to cruelty-free cosmetics is a simple way for Issanna to make a big difference, and she’s helping others do the same by opening a new beauty school where makeup novices can learn the ins and outs of cruelty-free cosmetics.

In time for the opening of the beauty school in September, Issanna agreed to chat with PETA about her growing company, what it means to make a difference in the cosmetics world, and which looks are hot this summer.

We hear that you’re upping the ante on your efforts to publicize cruelty-free cosmetics, including creating a street team. Why are you doing this, and what does it involve?

My favorite Dr. Seuss book has always been The Lorax, which teaches readers how it takes just one person to help make a serious change in the world. I personally care about cosmetics being cruelty-free and vegan. It has bothered me how many cosmetic companies test on animals or use animals and/or their byproducts for ingredients as well as how few cosmetics consumers take the time to learn or understand how their purchased items are made and what is in them. It’s a daily occurrence for someone to walk into a store or go onto a website and buy something without much thought beyond the products packaging. It is one of the most prominent reasons I started my own makeup line. I saved every penny I had and learned how to formulate and produce cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics on my own.

Though I can’t change what other companies do, I understand that being upset about what they do will never change anything. I took the passion I had for this cause and did something about it. By putting together a street team, I am able to educate the members I have about cruelty-free and vegan products in hopes that they, in turn, will develop a passion for this topic and educate others. I also have a Cosmetics Corner section on my website which explains topics such as nonvegan ingredient names and what legally should be on any
cosmetics label. If I can influence even one person to pause and read a cosmetics label and have an inner monologue about what they are purchasing, then all the time and effort I have made in putting the information out there is sincerely worth it.

Tell us about your street team!

I love my street team. Honestly, as a small business they help me get the word out about my company, and I would be lost without them. I have a background as an educator, and I find that this is my way of still incorporating education into my everyday work life. I attempt to do that in a creative and fun way by offering weekly challenges and contests that the street team can participate in. The team mainly consists of high school students who are hoping to attend makeup and/or cosmetology school when they graduate, so I offer great incentives to them such as online makeup classes and letters of recommendation.

Education—like what legally should be on a makeup label, what specific ingredients in makeup do, and if a company says they test on animals, what that really means—is something that was never offered to me at that age, and I wish it had been. I always tell the girls (and boys) on the team that every healthy makeup collection contains cosmetics from all different companies. I want to equip them with the information needed to make a mature decision about where to buy their makeup, no matter where they might decide to do that. This program has grown from 10 to now 100 members, and in my opinion, that is a wonderful amount of amazing individuals whom I have impacted in understanding this topic.

You’ve got some new products in the rotation. What are some of your favorite additions?

My personal favorite new loose eye shadow color is Wicked Witch. The new shadows have been very popular, especially Rockette and Fear of Sleep. They are all very playful and kawaii tones to add to your summer makeup bag.

Speaking of bags, we have a new cosmetics clutch. It’s a faux-leather clutch with corset lacing along the front, and the handle is silver brass knuckle skulls with rhinestones. I take mine everywhere; I’m so addicted to it. They are perfect as a summer bag since they are just the right size for carrying some makeup, your ID, and money—and, of course, a cell phone.

I also just launched the Unicorn Birthday Cake Kit on our website, which has been greatly anticipated. It includes a vegan strawberry cupcake–scented body splash, a Rockeresque unicorn sticker and necklace, and our exclusive Unicorn Birthday Cake pink glitter loose eye shadow inside a box shaped like a piece of pink cake. I have been planning this kit since I opened the company a year ago, so I’m ecstatic it’s out and so well received.

Summer’s in swing. Which of your products do you recommend this season?

Creamsicle oranges, subtle purples, bright primary yellows, lime greens, bright blues and baby browns are the big selling colors right now. Clients have really been enjoying using a pop of color blended with more subdued tones. For example, Canary Songbook looks amazing with Wicked Witch in the crease and Icicle in the outer corners.

Another beautiful combination is Rockette with Fear of Sleep and Pudding Pop. Last summer, makeup looks were mainly one bright, bold color contrasting with black and bold-colored apparel. This summer, I see more complex blended looks with outfits of the same color palette. Blue, purple, and pink eyebrows are as normal as brown ones. Also, glitter is the fun extra kick to any makeup look. The glitter application I have is very tasteful. Instead of just covering an entire eyelid, I have seen it used as a lower eyeliner or just over eyebrows. It gives a makeup look a little extra something without going overboard.

What piece of advice do you have for people who are new to cruelty-free cosmetics?

The more you know, the more you can do. It’s one thing to love animals and not want them harmed. It’s another thing to actually research what is done to animals and look at images and videos of them being tested on in a cosmetics lab. The more educated you make yourself, the more active you will be in pursuing a lifestyle using only cruelty-free cosmetics. You are also better equipped to pass this information on to others. It’s great to let someone else know you care about an issue, but being able to explain to them in detail why you care has a more lasting long-term effect.

There is a voice in numbers. In educating yourself and actually putting your foot down and saying, “I will not buy makeup from a company who tests on animals,” you are making a world of difference. If the cosmetics companies who support animal testing saw more consumers caring and speaking out against the act of doing it, they would be quicker to stop. Bottom line, these large companies are looking at their profit margins, and when consumers speak up and stop buying, that is when they will begin to sincerely listen.

What do you think the cosmetics industry still needs to do more of?

I do have to say that it pains me when I see cosmetics companies who do not test on animals but will not take that one step further to be vegan. I feel it is a conflicting message to say you will not test on animals, but you will end their life and put them inside your makeup. I don’t think I will ever wrap my head around the inconsistency of what [that practice] tells your clients. I make everything by hand, and though I can say it is more difficult to find vegan ingredients, it is not impossible.

I hope that one day Rockeresque will have the funding to become a full line of cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics, hair, and skin-care products. Since that is the long-term goal of my company, I have visited cosmetics labs to inquire about the cost to have my products developed and manufactured there. Imagine my surprise when I was told that if I wanted cruelty-free and vegan products that contain no harmful fillers such as Talc, all I simply had to do was tell them! I’m not embellishing even in the slightest; it is that easy to make a product that won’t hurt animals or yourself. The only difference is the price, and that price difference is a matter of cents, not dollars.

A little bird told us that you’re also opening a beauty school. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, I am very happy to share that we are opening our first makeup school in downtown Los Angeles. Our classes will be held at the beautiful Studio Servitu, which is roughly 3,700 square feet with large windows overlooking the city. It is a very innovative and creative space we know will inspire our students’ work. Our classroom has a lot of black, white, pink, and glitter; it is not your typical classroom as we don’t want to be like every other makeup school. I want Rockeresque Beauty School to be a fun and unique experience for students.

Students will learn everything from basic beginner makeup concepts to advanced application. A big part of the program is developing professional portfolios, so I partnered with Dallas D-Stoke Photography, Joe Shoots Me, and Olivia Bush to work closely with us on that aspect. Not only do we offer a full makeup course, but we also offer workshops in specialty areas such as a Runway Internship, Airbrush Makeup, Special FX, Hair for Photo Shoots, and more! Additionally, we will do makeup parties and even book one-on-one makeup sessions.

No matter which class a student takes, the only cosmetics products used will be cruelty-free and vegan. I have a class lecture about what these terms mean and why using these types of products is important, what happens in animal testing, etc. It’s essential to me to show future generations of makeup artists why they should care about where their makeup comes from and how it is made. The hope is they will educate those they apply makeup on and other makeup artists about this important topic.

It’s reassuring to see growing numbers of concerned humans who want to know what they are eating, but not enough women take the time to read and understand what a cosmetics label tells them. Makeup is absorbed into your skin, and any lipsticks and lip glosses are actually ingested into your body, so the ingredients really do matter. There is no reason to have makeup tested on animals, and there is no reason to have crushed insects or animals inside your makeup. In having this play a large part in our curriculum, I’m hoping to be able to make a difference—even a small one—in the cosmetics industry.  

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Inspired by Issanna? Dig her style? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below! And be sure to check out the Rockeresque Beauty School!

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  • Mary Jane D. says:

    Something that people need to understand, too, is that animal testing costs MILLIONS. So to say someone is against something that their company is too small to do anyway is kind of pointless. It’s like boycotting mansions when you live in an apartment. You can’t afford it anyway. It’s nothing novel at all. All small indie cosmetics companies don’t test on animals (unless they try to force it on their cat in their bedroom or something). Every brand on Etsy doesn’t test on animals. So this is not something special that only this business practices.
    This does not mean I support animal testing WHATSOEVER. I do not. I am a member of PETA for the last 20+ years. I just like a little more transparency.

  • MacKenzie says:

    Rockeresque is an amazing company! i loved working on the street team! i miss every beautiful person. Issanna has worked so hard and continues to work hard for everything she has and believes in. Every cosmetic company should look up to this amazing lady. If you haven’t checked out this company or their makeup, i strongly think you should. The colors are beautiful and the people are great. xoxo
    -Kenz <3

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