When I founded Highbrow last year, I did so selfishly in the sense that I built the beauty destination I always wanted. I’m a passionate reader, always have been, and after consuming what was considered the top-tier content in the beauty space for years (even working for a few along the way), I was still searching for one that spoke to me. Not something so perfect, so untouchable that the content felt out of reach, the way many old-school publications and over-processed Instagram makeup feels, but also not something so anti-cool that a “tutorial” consisted of mascara on the bottom lashes and nothing else. I was never either of those girls, and neither were most women I knew, so something was clearly missing in the space.

This site started as an outlet for relatable beauty content, a library of the best tips and tricks myself and my team came across, but as the company grew, the mission evolved. All of my friends were confused by beauty, overwhelmed and under pressure to always edit and define their look. I, like most people I know, have gone through beauty phases varying from days to years in length and ranging from minimalist to maximalist in application style, the only constant being the underlying stressor of dictating one of them as my ‘signature’.

I didn’t have (or want) a signature look, and therein lies the problem. One week, I felt like being the effortless French girl with the perfect cat eye and wine stained lip, but at night, I wanted smokey eyes and sunken cheeks like ‘90s Kate Moss. Other mornings, I looked for the most minimal combination of products, just enough to help me feel polished before running out the door, but by dinner, I wanted to look like a sun goddess who just stepped off the plane from Ibiza. There wasn’t a resource that gave me that kind of freedom with makeup, so I created it.

The ethos behind the Highbrow Personas is to be whoever you want at any given moment. It’s about embracing the now, not who you used to be or will be at some point in the future, just what feels good today. We’re kicking off with six personalities- the After Party, Summer Savage, Class Act, Fearless Femme, French Boheme and Creature of Comfort– that our team worked tirelessly to create, inspired by everyone from our favorite beauty muses to the cool girls we’ve met around the world. Probably my favorite part of the whole process has been seeing our team apply the Personas in our daily lives, like when someone shows up in an outfit that’s “so After Party” or wears a red lip that’s “perfect for the Class Act.”  They’re a tool to express yourself, to let your personality shine, then wash it all of and start over the next day. We find that everyone has a Persona they identify with most, but they’ve all got the ‘Highbrow’ touch, a common thread that makes them more like six sides of the same coin. They’re trendless, timeless, and best of all, created with the everyday girl in mind, not just for a pretty picture.

We made some other adjustments to the site too, like updating our menu bar at the top to better reflect our new content verticles. Interviews holds all our inspiring conversations- chats with industry leaders and tastemakers, plus all the beauty products they’re loving now. In The Know is our ‘best-of-the-best’ directory- what to buy, where to go and who to see in beauty, fashion, food, home, and fitness. Personas is where to learn more about each girl- what her weekends look like, what’s in her purse, her dream date, even outfit ideas to complete the look. This is the start of our beauty movement, one that will change the way you think and shop for beauty, and there’s so much more to come. Today, I am so excited to finally share the Personas with you and hope you love embodying them as much as we loved creating them.


Zoe Brenneke

Founder and Editorial Director of Highbrow


Sasha Samsonova
Liz Castellanos
Laura Polko
Christa Jayne