Finishing up her master’s degree in women’s studies and human rights in 2009, Alexis Wolfer decided to study the magazine industry and its impact on female body image. With experience interning and freelance editing at magazines like Self and Lucky, and recovering from an eating disorder herself, Wolfer came to the conclusion many magazines were “making women feel crappy about themselves in order to sell things.”
So Wolfer decided to put her own healthy spin on beauty into the media—combining the lifestyle editorial business she was drawn to with her passion for female empowerment. The Beauty Bean, Wolfer’s online beauty and lifestyle magazine, was born.
The Los Angeles website covers the intersection of healthy eating and beauty, with an emphasis on DIY tips and tricks. Wolfer, 29, sees The Beauty Bean’s goal as helping women feel more beautiful because of the way they live their lives. While many magazines might have the same mission, Wolfer says hers takes extra steps to ensure it’s not contributing to any body image disorders or insecurities.
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“We use regular girls as our models and don’t Photoshop at all,” Wolfer says. The site also has content encouraging women to feel comfortable without beauty products on— such as “Makeup Free Mondays.”
Wolfer says she supports content that seeks to “keep people focused on their inner selves.” Stories range from motivational messages to articles touting “7 Ways to Find Happiness at Work” and “How to Be the CEO of Your Own Health.”
While she started the home-grown website with personal savings and a small freelance staff, Wolfer says it’s now producing annual revenue of $175,000, after three years of business. The 5-year plan, she says, is to extend brand partnerships and viewership to reach a goal of $2.5 to $5 million in revenue.
The commitment to positive female body image extends to The Beauty Bean’s sponsors. The site won’t work with any company that promotes weight loss or plastic surgery. “We really focus on brands that have a similar mission of making women feel great about themselves just the way they are,” Wolfer says. Current sponsors include several cosmetics and hair product companies—like Covergirl, Pantene, Suave, Essie and others.
Wolfer hopes the tips and tricks can simply help women lead healthier, happier lives. Through her DIY content (such as this recent story on “5 Ways to Conceal Under-Eye Circles, Without Makeup”), she seeks to show women that they don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive make-up or salon treatments to feel better. And she wants to expose readers to healthier products that don’t contain harmful chemicals.
“I’m acutely aware of the fact that the skin is my body’s largest organ…absorbing everything around it,” Wolfer says. Many beauty products contain harmful preservatives, “because when we buy beauty products we expect it to live in our bathrooms for three years and survive in the hot, steamy [environment.]” She hopes homemade products can help minimize the harmful effects on women’s health and the environment.
Wolfer recently published a book, “The Recipe for Radiance: Discover Beauty’s Best Kept Secrets in Your Kitchen,” and, going forward, hopes to establish a presence in television as well. “I’m a strong believer that everything [in life] is figure out-able and I really held myself to the same standard with the business,” she says.
Why do you deserve to be on our Young Women to Watch list?
“I deserve to be on the list because I am changing the way women experience media and feel about their bodies and selves.”