Theo Kogan is putting the edge in natural lip gloss.
The born artist, fashion obsessive and longtime vegetarian always knew she was destined to start a company. But it was her experience as a model for the likes of Calvin Klein and Burberry, as an honorary drag queen and as a rocker (in bands like The Lunachicks and Theo And The Skyscrapers) that led her to notice a hole in the market: It was impossible to find naturally-based, bright, wild-colored lip gloss—especially one that stayed on throughout an entire show.
And, so, Armour Beauty was born, and continues to evolve via innovation, collaboration and philanthropy.
Here, Kogan explains why rolling with life’s changes—while aspiring to integrity and fearlessness—has helped her find balance:
Live The Process: How did you arrive at the decision to start a lip gloss line?
Theo Kogan: I was always into fashion: Even in first grade, I sometimes changed my clothes three times before getting the right look together to go to school. I loved makeup and gowns and wanted to be a clown. I was an artist in every sense. As a teen, I went to Laguardia High School for art; my friends and I started our band, Lunachicks, while we were there. As the band grew, the looks grew.
As the years went on, I started modeling and was more and more makeup-obsessed. I was trained to do makeup by drag queens. (I was on stage at Wigstock on the pier here in NYC some years ago, and the famed drag queen, Jackie Beat, looked at me on stage and deemed me an honorary one. I felt I had arrived.)
I knew I wanted to have a brand of some kind some day and then, years later, I had what I like to call my “lightbulb moment” when I realized that I needed to start a lip gloss line. I was so frustrated with the lip gloss on the market and wanted something very chic and luxe, but with natural ingredients as well as couture colors. At that time, the only “natural” brands around had mostly pretty earthy colors and could only be found in health food stores. All my friends and family members—even those who wear little to no makeup—would still put on a lip gloss, so it just seemed like the obvious choice for me. The market was lacking.
LTP: What sets Armour Beauty apart from other lines?
TK: Armour Beauty was launched in Brooklyn NY in 2009. The plant-based key ingredients are shea butter, olive oil, olive butter, mango seed oil and butter, olive oil and butter, grape oil and vitamin E. When I launched, there just weren’t any naturally-based brands that had the bright colors I wanted, while still being good for you. We have everything from the sheerest sparkle to the brightest pinks and reds to opaque black. That wasn’t happening then and, again, I had a real rock n’ roll aesthetic coming straight off the stage—literally.
LTP: Can you tell us about some of your recent launches?
TK: I have been a vegetarian longer than I haven’t at this point, and I wanted to offer something for the vegan population. It took a while to get the formula right, and I love it. Our newest lip gloss, Gilda, is a collaboration with my friend Virginia Elwood’s brand, It’s For Me. Virginia and I had been talking about doing a collaboration for charity for about a year and then it all came together with Gilda. We just launched for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and did a our first fundraiser, where profits are going to Gilda’s Club NYC. GCNYC is a fantastic organization, started by Gene Wilder, that helps people (and their families and friends) struggling with cancer to get through it. Cancer has touched pretty much anyone you speak to in some way. Virginia lost her mother to cancer, and I have watched friends and family go through it. It can be brutal to walk through alone. Gilda’s Club is an amazing resource and we were so happy to team up with them and raise awareness. We called our event, “Oh Cancer, Up Yours!” And we plan to do it annually to raise money and awareness. We also have some other plans up our sleeves for other charities. As for other new creations, I am working on a lip product that is not gloss. I hope to launch it early next year.
LTP: What comprises your personal wellness routine?
TK: It is not easy to balance life, as I am sure you know. I exercise, do yoga, eat a plant-based, wheat- and gluten-free diet (which I only recommend if you are allergic to wheat and gluten, as I was diagnosed) and I sleep about eight hours a night most of the time (though in the early days of motherhood, not so much). I use a lot of oils for my skincare and stay hydrated and sunscreen covered. I have also found that having fun helps to create a healthy balance! Doing fun things with my family and going out with friends and laughing are all also very important, and, as we get busy, it’s easy to forget. Balance is also about not overworking and depleting all engines, so I have plenty of energy and joy left.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
TK: Happiness is my adorable daughter and husband, my family and friends and being creatively satiated.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
TK: “Living The Process” to me is staying true to my integrity and also being fluid—adapting and changing as necessary to keep up with the times, while staying true to the self.
I think asking yourself if you will look back on something with no regret is important. No one lies on their deathbed and wishes they had worked more.