Meet Upstander Maureen Kelly

tarte cosmetics Founder and CEO shares how kindness and standing up to cyberbullying is what makes everyone beautiful inside and out!

Tarte Cosmetics Founder and CEO Maureen Kelly

Join others across the nation for #kissandmakeup Day on August 25! Learn how you can join the movement to end cyber-bullying today!

tarte started out of your apartment in New York City! That is amazing. What inspired you to create the cosmetics brand?
I was pursuing a PhD in psychology when I realized that life is just too short to waste time, so I followed my dreams! I’d always wanted to create fun, easy beauty products that made whoever wore them feel beautiful inside & out.
Please share details about the #kissandmakeup campaign and why you think it’s had such a profound response.
tarte’s huge social media presence actually helped me see how much cyberbullying is out there. Bullying isn’t just on the playground or in classrooms anymore. It’s scary, but people can be bullied anywhere & anytime now thanks to the internet. That’s why we started our #kissandmakeup campaign (don’t be mean behind the screen), which is easy to participate in:

  • After applying a fresh coat of lipstick, kiss your hand and place over your mouth. Post your selfie on Instagram using #kissandmakeup.
  • Please tag a friend in your photo, sending them a compliment and tag @tartecosmetics and @tyler_clementi_foundation
  • tarte will repost some of the selfies, sharing with their IG community of over 6 million fans

I think it’s really resonated with people because sadly, everyone knows someone that has been bullied, myself included. I’m a mom of two boys and we discuss in our household regularly. I can’t tell you how many heartbreaking stories I’ve heard since we started #kissandmakeup. I hope that by inspiring others to share positive messages on Instagram, people realize it’s cool to be nice, & that it starts a domino effect of kindness.
How do you see showing kindness to others playing a role in the quality of people’s lives? How does it play a role in your own?
Giving people the keys to feeling confident & encouraging kindness is a principle I have always stood by. Respect others as you hope to be respected! It isn’t hard & goes such a long way toward making the world a better place. Start by smiling more. Studies show that simply by smiling, it makes you & those around you feel happier & more secure. Compassion is contagious!
tcf-social-maureen-kelly-tileWhat inspired you to include the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s bullying prevention and awareness messages as part of the #kissandmakeup campaign? Why is bullying prevention important to you?
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, myself included! Not only have I seen it happen to my own employees, but I’m a mom and have sadly seen my kids experience it as well. When I was younger, I came home from school & there was no social media, so I could just unplug & didn’t have to deal with Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. 

Today’s landscape is clearly much different. Bullies need to know that there can be life-changing consequences to their behavior & this heartless, unnecessary negativity needs to end now. Not only does Tyler’s devastating story highlight those consequences in a very real way, but makes it clear that serious conversations about bullying – in all communities – are long overdue. The Tyler Clementi Foundation offers incredible resources that make it easier to start those conversations, getting us closer to stopping bullying once and for all.
How do you know when you see bullying?
Bullying can be as “small” as a snide comment or as big as physical abuse, but no matter the form bullying takes, it’s hurtful. It’s on all of us to intervene when we see it, which can take real courage, but it can also seriously change lives.
Women in the workplace often report experiences where they were bullied or harassed. You have incredible experience running a large company with a diverse team. In addition to the foundation’s #Day1 bullying prevention toolkit, what are other ways companies around the country can ensure that all employees across identities and abilities are treated with dignity and respect?
The tone of corporate culture is set from the top down. It’s so important for executives & managers to create a collaborative, positive environment. By enforcing anti-bullying policies, shutting down gossip, & standing up for their team members, we can create more respectful work environments.
#Day1 is also used in classrooms across the country to create safe space for all students, asking each student to be #Upstander to bullying and not a bystander. Should schools be taking a pro-active approach to prevent bullying? In addition to the #Day1 toolkit, what resources do you think a school should have available to prevent bullying?
Schools should absolutely be taking a proactive approach to prevent bullying. It should not just be the responsibilities of the students to stand up against bullies. Teachers should not just shrug off certain behaviors. There should be a focus on building empathy & teamwork among students. Additionally, school faculty can designate themselves as allies against bullying so students know they have an adult they can trust, & who will intervene if students need help.
What do you do to let your child know that it is ok to talk to you when they feel like they might be being bullied?
I always tell my sons that they can come talk to me about anything & I will listen, without judgment, to what they have to say. My #1 job is being their mom, & I will do anything I can to help them solve a problem – even if all they want is a sounding board.
Do you think bullies can change? How?
I think many bullies have the ability to change their behavior, but a big part of that change is by shifting the mindset behind bullying in society– it’s never funny or cool to tease or humiliate others. It’s going to take a lot of work, but once bullies recognize this & empathize with those they’ve treated poorly, the world will become a lot kinder.

Maureen Kelly is the CEO & founder of tarte cosmetics, a cruelty-free line of easy-to-use products packed with healthy ingredients that deliver real results. She’s also a Starbucks lover & beach bum! When she isn’t working on creating the next covetable new tarte launch, she’s at the beach with her husband & two sons. Learn more about Maureen and tarte on Twitter and Facebook.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.