Karmaface Cosmetics helps women in need
When Brandi Leifso was a year old, her mother made the decision to flee an abusive marriage. With no money and nowhere else to go, she sought refuge in a homeless shelter in a small town back east. That’s where Leifso, her two older sisters, and her mother lived until her mom was able to get back on her feet again, moving to Hinton, Alberta, and starting a new life for herself and her children. And even though Leifso has very little recollection of the shelter, she is forever grateful for what the people there did for her family.
“They helped us with no judgment,” says the 21-year-old makeup artist, who recently sat down with the Straight at a café to talk about her latest beauty venture. “I mean, I don’t remember a lot of it, but I see what it did for my mom. And I honestly don’t know what would have happened to us if there wasn’t a service like that.”
At the age of 17, right after graduating from high school, Leifso moved to Vancouver, where she worked in almost every part of the beauty industry as she plotted a payback gift: Karmaface Cosmetics, a luxury makeup line that benefits women in need. One dollar from every product sold goes to YWCA Canada. This wasn’t the organization that helped her mother out 20 years ago, but because it provides shelter for 25,000 women a year, Leifso figured it would be a great fit for her mission.
Leifso officially launched last month with a modest core line, which she sells through her website and at Unity Clothing (in the Pinnacle Hotel near Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver). Highlights from this collection include a subtle matte bronzer called Hot Houdini ($28), a neutral flush-coloured blush called Bingo Boingo that will work on pretty much any skin tone ($22), and a series of ultra-lightweight liquid foundations ($30 each). So no trendy, eye-popping colours here. That’s because part of the Karmaface philosophy is to enhance and appreciate one’s own natural beauty.
As time goes on, Leifso will add philanthropic products to her essential line of basics. This fall, for example, Karmaface will launch Maple Batalia lip gloss to honour Leifso’s young, beautiful friend, who many will remember was gunned down last year in an SFU parking lot. The two women became close a couple of years ago when Leifso signed Batalia to Lloyd Talent (an acting agency where Leifso worked at the time).
“So whenever she had an audition, I’d be the one on the phone saying, ‘Maple, you gotta be here and you gotta be on time,’ ” Leifso recalls. “She had a very great career ahead of her—it was really starting to blossom.”
Leifso worked closely with Maple’s sister Rose to re-create Maple’s favourite lip-gloss colour: soft nude. And for this tribute product, instead of one dollar from every sale going to YWCA Canada, it will go to the Maple Batalia Memorial Fund—a scholarship fund that benefits young women of South Asian descent who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts.
As for Leifso’s mother, she’s a strong, happy, successful nurse these days. And if Leifso has her way, Karmaface will continue to be a platform for collaborative charity projects like the Maple Batalia gloss.
“I think everything is a choice. I choose to be grateful for the situations that I have been in because now I’m able to help other people going through the same thing, and Karmaface is just my tool to do that.”