Marie Kouadio Amouzame and Alice Lin Glover on their mission to make beauty more inclusive
In early 2020, friends and former coworkers Marie Kouadio Amouzame and Alice Lin Glover gave up their respective jobs in strategy and brand marketing – for Airbnb and as as a freelance consultant – to begin their own entrepreneurial journey. With stints at Google under both their professional belts, what they created together was Eadem – a beauty brand “designed by women of colour for women of colour” that has been selected for Sephora’s mentorship programme and received a Glossier Grant Initiative for Black-Owned Businesses. While navigating a pandemic and new motherhood – Lin Glover had her first baby six moths ago; Kouadio Amouzame’s second is now a year old – they’ve built a brand and engineered their first product around what they call “Smart Melanin Beauty”: an effective yet clean combination of botanical and science-backed ingredients to treat hyperpigmentation.
How did the two of you become friends?
MKA: Alice and I started working together seven years ago; we were colleagues at Google, working on the brand marketing team. Right off the bat, we got along really well – initially working remotely, then both in New York. We bonded over countless dinners and Boba runs! But also over the fact that we’re both children of immigrants growing in western countries – Alice’s family is from Taiwan; mine’s from the Ivory Coast. We realised that although we don’t look the same, we had a lot in common – the way we were raised, the constant battling between two cultures. That's something we spoke about a lot. We also share an obsession with skincare.
What was the spark for starting Eadem?
ALG: For me, it was my own struggle with eczema and acne, and trying to treat my hyperpigmentation – the dark scars from acne. Hydroquinone is the number-one active ingredient in treating hyperpigmentation, but when used long term, especially on darker skin tones, it can actually lighten your skin permanently. I had used it for decades! Marie and I wanted to create an effective alternative for skin of colour, but also to create a brand that doesn’t follow European beauty standards. In Latin, Eadem means “the same”, and the brand came from that concept. We all look different, but there’s a lot of universality between our backgrounds and our perspective. We want women of colour to be able to find similarities the way we did through our friendship. We want them to feel good in their skin.
What do you both bring to the brand?
MKA: Our main quality, I would say, is that we love to learn. I nicknamed myself Wikipedia because I can go very, very deep on a topic. We knew nothing about beauty when we started, but we read all the scientific reviews, then we found the right professionals to validate the idea – an amazing chemist, manufacturer and dermatologist, so that the product is backed by science, and it really works.
What have you taken on board from the world of tech?
MKA: Tenacity, drive and thinking big. There was a motto at Google along the lines of, “When you're uncomfortably excited about something that means that you’re touching on something important.” I feel like that's what's driving us. It feels risky – and that means we’re onto something. It was when we both independently working with different startups that we realised we could do this.
How do you collaborate together?
MKA: We’re work soulmates, so it’s almost like we don’t need we go, “OK, you do all this and I’ll do all that”, we just divide the work as we go at it. Of course, we have specialties – Alice is a designer and I handle a lot of the operations – but we don’t need to be super-divisive or organising, the way other startups can be, because it’s a fusion of two brains.
ALG: We are the whole company – and this is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we can make decisions quickly. The curse, the challenge, is that we're both moms and we’re tired all the time.
What qualities do you admire and appreciate in one another?
ALG: I am always in awe at the way Marie tackles problems or difficulties head-on. She is incredibly motivated and thoughtful with all she does – sometimes it feels like she is a prodigy at everything – but she still manages to have a sense of humour. In the hustle of starting a business there are a lot of hard days and difficult people; Marie always manages to find the bright spots to keep us going.
MKA: The thing I admire the most in Alice is that she pays it forward – both in professional settings and with her friends. Countless times in recent months, I’ve seen her assisting others that are less experienced to negotiate contracts or secure the job of their dreams. She’s super busy yet still finds time for that.
eadem.co; Milk Marvel Dark Spot Serum, $68
Image by Eadem founders, Alice Lin Glover and Marie Kouadio Amouzame