An indisputable highlight of my recent UK trip was meeting up with Anna Sylla, the creator of Anna S. Lipsticks (A line of natural, handmade, organic lipsticks that look especially amazing on darker skin tones). She currently has three colour options available (with more to come), which she has for sale on Etsy.
** Update 3/21/18. Anna now has moved from Etsy to a new website : annasbeautycosmetics.com
I found Anna about a month ago on Instagram while I was looking for inspiration under the #NaturalHair hashtag. As I scrolled along, I came across a photo of her with a gorgeous fro, rocking a beautiful pink lip. As Afros and Lipsticks are two of my favourite things, she had gained my interest. When I read the caption beneath her photo and realized she had made the lipstick herself, I couldn’t help but message her. We started talking, and when it turned out she lived in London, I knew I had to meet up with her for a feature, and so here we are.
We met in a cafe in Central London, and after getting ourselves settled, I asked her to tell me about herself. She tells me she is originally from the Ivory Coast, and that she grew up in France, coming to London 10 years ago to study English. She describes herself as being very girly, and as being someone who loves being around other women.
It all began 4 years ago, when she had her daughter. Having a child, she had grown more conscious of what she was putting on her skin; anything with sulphates and parabens were a big ‘No’.
She was using a lot of Shea Butter, but as someone who loves the girly things in life, it wasn’t glamorous enough for her when it came to the scent and colour options available to her, so she started experimenting in making her own products. This lead to the creation of Anna S. Natural.
“I had this lipstick dream, but it seemed so far away… You need money, and time…”
Still, she researched things that wouldn’t hurt the body, it was important to her to educate herself, because she wanted to create lipsticks without chemicals in them. Then, she started purchasing ingredients.
“I started to mix colours and try things. I kept thinking “is this going to work?” but then I thought, let’s just do it. There were so many excuses; I don’t have the time, I have a baby, I’m working. But really I just wasn’t confident enough.
Last year, I decided to go for it. I was going through a breakup with the father of my child, and it was like therapy; it was something that I always wanted to do.”
She started focusing on the details: the packaging, the colours that she wanted; especially colours that would compliment black women. The goal was ingredients that were natural and completely chemical-free. She wanted to create something affordable, and that wouldn’t be toxic to the women she was selling to.
“I don’t know why you should have to pay so much for chemicals when they’re harming you. That’s why I use natural products, and I don’t want to charge so much for them.
Now, I want to buy supplies from countries with villages with women in them; to support them.”
Already, Anna gets her Shea butter from the Ivory Coast, but her personal project is to have the majority of her ingredients come from areas where the women are the ones working to produce them. She hopes to give back and help support the development of these communities.
“I wasn’t doing this for money, I just wanted to do something that I really, really loved.”
When talking about what inspires her colours, she says she can take inspiration from everywhere. She motions to the burgundy cushioned seats we’re sitting on and says “I see the sofa, and I’ll like the colour! I’ll walk in the street and see flowers, or a macaron, and I’ll take a picture!”
Anna also brings up her mother as a big inspiration:
“Since I was a girl my mom would wear bright lipstick; bright fuchsias, oranges.
But I grew up in a poor area of Paris, and you couldn’t wear a bright red. People would judge you, and talk. Young women would choose dark colours instead. It was when I left France; when I came to London, that I started to experiment with lipstick.”
My favourite takeaway from meeting with Anna was her passion for supporting other women, in any way that she can. She acknowledged the often negative ways in which women treat each other, and how disappointing it could be, especially on social media.
“I think it would be so much better if women just supported each other and lifted each other up. We are all struggling. We have to be smart, and pretty, and the list just goes on.”
It was my greatest pleasure to meet Anna, and it was so refreshing to meet such a genuinely kind, warm, and open woman. If I were you, I would keep my eye on this one. Her beautiful spirit is going to take her far.
Now that you’ve met her, I know you want to know how you can support her!
To get ahold of her lipsticks, you can find her on her website, annasbeautycosmetics.com . (She ships worldwide!)
And don’t forget to follow her on Instagram at @annasbeautycosmetics