above: Left to right: Cosmetics co-founders Feven and Helena Yohannes
Twin sisters and CEO’S Feven and Helena Yohannes, are founders of 241 Cosmetics.
Originally from Eritrea, Africa and born in a refugee camp in Gibra, Sudan, their family made their way to the United States after being granted political asylum where they grew up in Rochester, New York.
The sisters started out at city schools — No. 28, No. 46 and James Monroe Middle School — graduated from Brighton High School, worked as cashiers at the Pittsford Wegmans, earned degrees from competitive colleges, moved to California, launched careers in real estate sales and interior design and founded the makeup brand 2-4-1 Cosmetics, which late last year landed on Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things list. A set of six lip glosses that 2-4-1 was asked to develop just for Winfrey’s 2020 list, published in November’s O, The Oprah Magazine, sold out almost immediately on Amazon.
Items in regular inventory — cruelty-free, fragrance-free and hypoallergenic lipsticks, lip glosses, eyeliners, eyeshadow and mascara — already had been selling out on the 2-4-1 website, thanks to a feature story that ran last July in InStyle magazine, which is what caught the attention of Winfrey’s people in the first place.
Even before that, however, the siblings had picked up two A-list mentors: Helen Aboah, CEO of Urban Zen, the lifestyle brand of designer Donna Karan, and cosmetics mogul Bobbi Brown, who has referred to the duo as “the future of beauty.”
“We like to think seeing our parent’s path from struggle to triumph completely influenced us as people and as founders,” says Helena. “They instilled the fundamental belief you lead with purpose, never forgetting your roots and always in service to others. The experiences and lessons they instilled in us as little twin girls would later play a pivotal role in our framework and brand ethos.”
The goal with 241 Cosmetics is to create an effortless beauty brand that instills confidence, kindness and integrity. With their collection of color cosmetics, the duo is doing just that. “Beauty to us is grace and resilience. And we instill those lessons in our products through the names and product descriptions,” says Feven.