In Los Angeles, USA, two leading figures rising to a prominent spot in the makeup industry dare women worldwide to be classic with their brand. These successful young Eritrean twin sisters, Feven and Helena Yohannes, co-founded 2•4•1 Cosmetics, a brand that promotes women’s genuine beauty. The sisters work to promote the very notion of beauty, elevating it to a level where women’s wisdom and beauty are equally held up.
Born in a refugee camp in Sudan, Feven and Helena moved to New York when they were still very young. The two did very well at school. While Helena double majored in Government and Sociology at Skidmore College, Feven studied Media and Communications with a minor in English and Art History at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Feven and Helena, entrepreneurs and co-founders of 2.4.1, tend to instill in their brand the concept “women are both brains and beauty.”
- Thank you for your time. For starters, what is 2.4.1 Cosmetics?
2.4.1 Cosmetics is a direct-to-consumer clean and classic cosmetics company which believes makeup is a means to enhance a woman’s beauty, not to conceal it. Our mission is to create effortless beauty brand that instills confidence, kindness and integrity.
- Why makeup? How did it all start for you two?
We believe make up is transformative and a vessel which inspires deeper conversations. As Eritreans, we believe that thriving is in our bloodline. We are resilient and solution oriented founders with deep appreciation for people. We trust the process and we are firm in the belief that service to others is the greatest reward. For us, make up is the instrument in our service to humanity.
- What does the name of the brand mean and stand for?
Often times growing up as twins, strangers would jokingly ask, “Are you guys 2 FOR 1?” The surface response would be: “No, there is no discount when it comes to our self-worth.” But our mother did have one pregnancy that birthed two girls”.
But as we got older the question became deeper for us. People are fascinated with twins because they naturally draw attention without trying. But with attention also comes comparisons. Some attention that triggers unwarranted questions such as: “Who’s the smart twin? Who’s the prettier twin? When you look in the mirror, can you tell who is who?” Such questions got us thinking: “Why can’t you be two equally powerful attributes in one?”
Therefore, when building our brand, we built it based on the belief that women are both brains and beauty, two powerful attributes from which you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can be both. And that is exactly what 2•4•1 stands for.
- Do you have any recollections from home?
Our first and last trip to Eritrea was the summer of 2001. It was then that we discovered our life’s purpose and we have instilled that within our brand ethos and even named three of our lipsticks after our beloved motherland — RED SEA, ASMARA and QUEEN.
- Who you are must have inspired you a lot while working on becoming the grownups and business women you are today. On what levels do you connect with your heritage?
We will answer your question by borrowing the words of thebeloved Dr. Maya Angelou: “I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.” We understand a s Eritrean political refugees, born in a refugee camp in Sudan who survived one of the worst famines in history, that this journey is not just about ‘us’ but rather we know we are a vessel for a higher purpose— that is to show the world the rich culture of our heritage. O u r long walk to making a mark in the beauty industry has just begun and we cherish the lessons we learned. We often say that watching our parents’ struggles and ultimate triumph was a gift and that the sacrifices afforded us the opportunity to dream big.
- Lastly, can you please share your future plans?
We have launched eyes and lip makeup products and intend to launch skin products in the next 12 months—specifically foundation shades, touch up sticks a n d bronzer. Overall we will explore practical consolidation of beauty products.
Moreover, we intend to launch 2•4•1in our motherland first and then in West Africa and East Africa. Our goal is to have a storefront in Asmara.
- Many Eritrean women will be reading this issue. Do you have any special message for them?
Anything is possible. Always remain kind and focused. Remember unwavering faith is the cure to doubt. And, thank you again for the opportunity!