Meet our Founder

Makeup Artist and Founder JoAnn Fowler smiling with big glasses, sitting in front of a painting and an open makeup kit

JoAnn Fowler is the Founder of SAPPHO New Paradigm. As a makeup artist in film and television for over 30 years, JoAnn has enjoyed professional recognition including an Emmy nomination and a Leo Award win. 

Sappho was founded in 2008, while Fowler was Head of the Makeup Dept. on Showtime’s cult TV series The L Word. Her journey truly began when one of the actresses asked that she only apply paraben-free products and a thorough search ensued, but none worked on camera. JoAnn was a trailblazer at the time, when she started researching ingredients in 2006, developing her first products, free of any known and many suspected toxins, carcinogens, hormone disruptors and silicone, over the course of two years and pioneering "clean" cosmetics to her fellow pro artists.

Then called Sappho Cosmetics, she had a thriving business that attracted retailers, consumers and investors alike. JoAnn stopped working on sets full-time to dedicate herself entirely to her company, at the height of her professional makeup artist career. Shortly after, an unfortunate encounter and business relationship with an 'angel investor' saw her fight tooth and nail to keep to Sappho's ethos of safe ingredients, in small claims court and an appeal to BC's Supreme Court, which she won without a lawyer against a team of four. It took everything she had to keep Sappho going - her personal investments and lifetime savings all went into the rebirth of her brand. As of November 2016, now known as Sappho New Paradigm, her company bears a new name for a new era of business: one of true transparency, new standards in business from being women-led and where small actions make a world of a difference.

"There is a whole story that surrounds the time of my life when I lost my home and life savings, a cumulation of seeing patriarchy, misogyny and greed unfold before my very eyes. It was a moment of knowing businessmen are disconnected and are so identified with their 'better than', that they have lost their way as humans. Everything they do that affects others negatively is explained as being 'just business' - a meme used to harm, because it is not said if a deal has gone down fairly," says JoAnn.

So now years later , Fowler is still excited to be keeping true to her promise to “get greener as we grow”, introducing revolutionary sustainable cosmetic packaging with full product life cycle in mind but more than that. In 2022, faced with new knowledge scientific knowledge regarding PFAS,  Sappho is testing all their products for organic fluorine ( a marker for PFAS) and going forward creating a line whose every product will be <10ppm Organic fluorine  both tested for formulation and for packaging.  SAPPHO's products  will  remain  extraordinary: impeccable ingredients, expert formulations, safety beyond  acceptable thresholds, uncompromisingly vegan & cruelty-free, biodegradable, spot-on global shades and incredible colour payoff - the future of the beauty industry as it always should have been.

“SAPPHO New Paradigm is my apology to the next generation. It is a company that embraces diversity, ingredient transparency, sustainability and all creative genres.”

-JoAnn Fowler


Get to know JoAnn even better by listening to/reading some of her interviews.

About Last Night, podcast hosted by Parry Ray

Magnifeco Radio, podcast with Kate Black

Spa Inc. Mag Q&A with Jayne Ashley Heaton

JoAnn's Journey, a Grace Club blog post

"Twilight, Johnny Depp and Sappho New Paradigm: The Incredible Journey of Makeup Graduate JoAnn Fowler", interview with Blanche Macdonald Centre

Vancouver is Awesome, "This Vancouver business was one of the first clean beauty brands in Canada", interview by Allie Turner