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Lipstick tube from Las Vegas company tests for date-rape drugs, can call 911

Updated October 31, 2022 - 10:32 am

Las Vegas-based Esoes Cosmetics (pronounced S.O.S.) wants to help protect women with its first product — lipstick.

The company launched a patent-pending liquid lipstick on Friday that features an airtight container with test strips to detect common date-rape drugs in drinks. It also has a button that connects through Bluetooth to the company’s smartphone app, which will send alerts to trusted contacts and/or authorities.

Founder and CEO Joy Hoover said it took a year to develop the product, which is now sold on the company’s website.

“We launched the idea in our backyard last year — Oct. 28,” she said. “The 28th is actually my mother-in-law’s would-be 72nd birthday, and her life was taken by violence. So it’s kind of an honor owed to her, a better future for our daughters and for really, everyone in our community to keep people safe.”

The lipstick is available in three colors, and retails for $49.95. Hoover said her plan is to eventually offer a wider range of makeup products. But she opted to launch with lipstick because it’s often the most commonly used item.

“Most women carry lipstick and their cell phone,” Hoover said. “Even if it’s just these two things in our wristlet when we go out, ideally that can keep most people safe.”

Hoover said the company wants to not just sell lipsticks but create an “ecosystem of solutions” around domestic and sexual violence, which is part of the company’s three pillars. The first pillar, she said, is creating innovative products with safety features. The second foundation is partnering with nonprofits to help survivors and victims, while the third pillar is educating consumers on how to recognize signs of abuse and properly respond to it or help.

Esoes is currently partnering with four local nonprofits: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Foster Kinship, Unshakeable and SafeNest.

Liz Ortenburger, CEO of SafeNest, said the nonprofit wanted to partner with Esoes because of its mission and the chance to have a steady donor.

“What it creates is the opportunity for people to have really critical conversations with young people in their lives around the dangers that exist in our community,” Ortenburger said. “It provides you with an immediate tool to be able to make sure that your drink in a public setting is safe with the test strips.”

A longtime advocate

Hoover and her husband, Philip, moved to Las Vegas from Michigan in 2010, starting a nonprofit, The Cupcake Girls, that same year. The organization provides support to survivors of domestic and sexual violence as well as sex trafficking victims.

“I’m one of four daughters, and all of us have experienced sexual domestic violence in our lifetime,” Hoover said. “Typically it’s one in four, and we’re four in four.”

In Nevada, it’s estimated that 43.8 percent of women and 32.8 percent of men experience sexual violence, stalking or violence from an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Hoover’s latest venture is an extension of her experience around helping survivors, and taps into her training as a cosmetologist.

“It’s really women’s tech,” she said. “It’s really like a connection between health and beauty and tech.”

Chuck Gorder, a software engineer at Zoo Zoo Web, helped develop Esoes’ app and said users can create pre-written messages so when the lipstick’s button is pressed the message will send to specific contacts or call 911.

The app also has two different modes, one that showcases the Esoes brand and a special safety mode, according to Gorder.

Hoover wouldn’t disclose startup costs or funding but said its goal is to raise $750,000 for a full market launch. The company is aiming to sell 5,000 lipsticks by Christmas and 160,000 in 2023.

She said sales will be through its website, but it’s exploring other retail channels.

“We really just want to get this product into as many people’s hands as possible,” Hoover said.

“(Esoes is) building what we’re calling a lipstick revolution of people that are keeping themselves safe and watching out and being active bystanders to keep other people safe.”

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on Twitter.

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