Zoe's Story

Zoe is the founder of beauty brand and Hestia partner ZOEVA.

Growing up, I loved to watch my mother apply her makeup. I was fascinated by how it transformed her confidence. Even though we experienced domestic abuse in our family, my mother always held to her values of loving each other, respecting each other, and working hard. She used makeup as a tool to help her face what we were going through as a family. 

As I grew up, I became determined to give my mum the financial freedom to become independent. I also wanted to give back to women who had suffered domestic abuse, and I wanted to do it through a product I love: makeup.

In 2008, I started with 10 makeup brushes which I sold on eBay. Before I knew it, ZOEVA was born.


Zoe (left) and her sister Barbara. Photo: ZOEVA

When I first started the business, I remember attending a well-known beauty convention. I tried to introduce myself to people, but because I wasn’t established, they turned their backs on me. I left but told myself that no matter how many times I’m told “no”, I would build the company I wanted. 

Rejection gave me even more power, strength and determination. I had no business plan, I had no capital, and no connection to the beauty industry. But I had heart. I had hope. And I had determination. 

My mother made sure that we never gave up.

Today, I see ZOEVA products on the shelves of retailers like Sephora, Selfridge’s and Douglas. There is no doubt that all the setbacks and hard work has been worth it.

I’ve always wanted ZOEVA to be a beauty brand with a purpose. As a brand, we are committed to empowering women and celebrating their individual beauty. We want women to know that they have the inner strength to determine their own life. 

Zoe and her sister Barbara. Photos: ZOEVA

Because of my family’s experience with domestic abuse, I know first-hand the importance and value of organisations working to keep women and children in vulnerable positions safe. With the help of these types of organisations, my family managed to turn our situation around. Ever since then, I’ve been determined to help show women living in refuges that they too can turn their situation around–that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.  

In 2019, we started supporting Hestia and the families in their refuges, and were immediately moved by their strength and resilience. 

We’ve met some incredible people – women of all ages who have experienced the most debilitating, dangerous and oppressive situations but made the brave decision to start a new life for themselves and their children. Last year we held a makeup masterclass for some of the residents and recently we did the same for International Women's Day. It was such an honour to see the boost in confidence they got from it, and to be part of that empowerment. 

Their grace and courage has reminded me of why we do what we do, and why want to use ZOEVA as a platform to support women across the world.  

There are so many women and children going through what we did. There is so much more awareness now, and there are tools there to help people start that change and move towards a better, brighter future. I want people to know that there is always someone there to listen, and to help.  

Our mother isn’t with us anymore, but her memory lives on in every decision we make. She braved domestic abuse and ovarian cancer, and her strength gave us strength. Now, we want to make sure other women can share that strength too.  

Which book impacted me the most?

Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty. Her story fascinated me because she was a very inspirational and courageous woman who dragged herself out of poverty. She became a pioneer and changed the beauty industry during her lifetime.

Which film impacted me the most?

I actually don’t have a favourite film but Art has been an important inspiration to me, especially the beautiful works of art by Frida Kahlo.

Which song impacted me the most?

Imagine by John Lennon, as it’s always reminds me the importance of giving back and help those in need.

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