Tainted Inc. is one of 22 social impact startups taking part in the 2016 reSET Accelerator program, which is geared toward entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development.

Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price asked Tainted Founder Andrea Cortez about her company’s involvement with reSET, commitment to making a social impact, and future goals.

NAN PRICE: When and why did you start your company?

ANDREA CORTEZ: After working in cosmetics and climbing the corporate ladder for more than 10 years, I realized as I made my way to the top that beauty industry is in fact “tainted.” The industry isn’t really meant to make woman feel beautiful or designed for makeup artists to practice their art form. Instead, cosmetic companies prey on woman’s insecurities and push them products without ever really satisfying their questions or concerns. They turn artists into sales Associates and place sales goals over customer satisfaction.

After my grandmother passed away in 2013 and my company only allowed me three days to mourn and get back to the field, I knew I had to make a decision. I left the industry, traveled, and explored myself spiritually for a year, and then opened my studio doors in January 2015.

NAN: How is Tainted different than typical cosmetics companies?

ANDREA: Tainted introduces woman to a new avenue to the world of beauty. We do not sell makeup, instead we teach woman the art of makeup by showing them how to use what they already use and offering lessons to meet their desired needs. Tainted has more than 20 professional makeup artists who will also service clients for bridal and special occasion application. In addition, we offer little girl birthday parties, photoshoots, and a creative studio.

NAN: Why did you become involved in reSET Accelerator program?

ANDREA: I have always been good at making money for other people but have never had any formal training or extended education in business. The reSET Accelerator gives me the opportunity to follow in successful entrepreneurs’ footsteps, while giving me structure and support to run my business.

NAN: In what ways is your company making a social impact?

ANDREA: Tainted is more than just makeup. We touch women’s hearts, souls, and minds, empowering woman to love themselves and express themselves in a positive, powerful way.

Reaching woman with authenticity is important to me, because we live in a world that places an illusion of perfection on woman and young girls. It sexualizes us and pushes the concept we are only as beautiful as our “outer appearance,” when in fact, beauty is as beauty does. It is our mind and heart that is beautiful. When women can start embracing their power and true essence, we will change the world.

NAN: What are your company’s goals for the next three to five years?

ANDREA: We plan to expand our team to more than 100 artists and have three studios in Connecticut before expanding to Boston and New York.

Photo: Tainted Inc. Founder Andrea Cortez (right) says, “Beauty is as beauty does.”