My Five Beauty Obsessions: Kena Paranjape and Jen Lee Koss

The founders of Brika, a curated shopping website full of indie brands, share the products that give their medicine cabinet "shelf appeal."
Brika founders Jen Lee Koss and Kena Paranjape launched their curated shopping site in late 2012. (Photo: Brika)

Jen Lee Koss and Kena Paranjape are the two (gorgeous!) minds behind Brika, a shopping website full of cool, small brands you’ve never heard of.

The Toronto-based duo uncover indie artisans and designers—from jewelery makers, small-batch natural beauty purveyors, home decor artists, etc.—and curate pieces for their small-vendor, Etsy-like site.

“Both Jen and I have merchandising and marketing backgrounds,” says Paranjape, along with MBAs from University of Toronto and Harvard. “We’d marvel at the high quality products of artisans and designers out there, but what we found was that they were great at creating but not connecting with customers.” And so, Brika was born.

As part of their curatorial mission, “the makers either apply or are invited. We’re looking for uniqueness. Something that’s a modern, beautiful, high quality product,” Paranjape says.

That goes for the beauty products that they stock as well, which as are natural and organic as possible—with serious “shelf appeal.” Here’s what the bright and lovely duo is decorating their shelves and skin with now. —Jamie McKillop

Paranjape’s Picks

1. Ilia Beauty Lipstick ($24) I don’t wear a ton of lipstick. I read somewhere that women inadvertently eat tons of their lipstick, and I became hyper aware of how many chemicals are in there, including lead. Ilia is the first natural lipstick I fell in love with because the colors are so great. Everything is gorgeous, high pigment, and so on trend. So I don’t worry about eating it, ha!

2. Kaia Bamboo Facial Cleansing Cloths ($16) These facial wipes are unbelievable. They remove every lick of makeup, and they’re so soothing and soft. I’ve used lot of different kinds of wipes over the years, and these feel like they’re nourishing your skin. Plus, they’re biodegradable and all-natural.

3. Ripeshop Lip Balm and Scrub ($27) The founder of Ripeshop was actually looking for citrus-based body wash and couldn’t find any she liked. Her parents own a citrus farm, and that’s how she began her own beauty line. Her lip products are made with ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil. The coffee lip balm is so delicious, it even makes me drink less coffee.

Lee Koss’ Picks

1. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Hand Soap ($4) I’ve never washed my hands as much as I have since I’ve had my two little kids—Aksel, 3, and Annabelle, 2. This is a soap we all love in the Koss household.

2. Neal’s Yard Remedies Melissa Hand Cream ($20) I used to live in England for almost five years, and one of my favorite places to go on the weekends was Borough Market. In the market was a Neal’s Yard store, and that’s where I found this lovely hand cream. It reminds me of of my time in the UK.

3. Lovefresh Pear Body Butter ($24) I was newly introduced to this body butter when it was featured on our site. I love the scent of pear, and I slather this on everyday.

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