Like I stated before Laura is the Owner of clean faced cosmetics. She has had her business for five and a half years selling zero-waste makeup.
What is your story for starting such a business?
"Admittedly, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what “zero-waste” was when I started
experimenting with different cosmetic formulas. It was 2013, and I had just
graduated from college. Since my degree in technical writing wasn’t getting me
anywhere, I was working at a drugstore cosmetics counter. DIY beauty had
always been of interest to me – I was making lip gloss with Vaseline, Kool-Aid,
and food coloring by age 12 (ewww, haha!) – but spending 40+ hours a week
selling cheaply-made, environmentally hazardous products I didn’t believe in was
enough to really get me thinking about what I DID believe in, and how I could
promote it. Since I never had more than a couple hundred dollars to my name
during that time, splurging on higher-end, eco-friendly makeup to review was out
of the question, and I quickly dismissed the dream of becoming an “influencer.”
Instead, I saved in tiny increments and, over the course of a few months, was
able to purchase a handful of cruelty-free, organic ingredients to work with. After
a few more months of experimenting and bribing my friends into being test
subjects with free makeup, I opened Clean-Faced Cosmetics with the intention of
selling handmade beauty products that were tested on friends, not animals…and
yes, that eventually became CFC’s slogan! Unfortunately, I wasn’t really
conscious of how much plastic I used until people started blasting me online
about it. People/former customers kept accusing me in reviews of “not being
zero-waste,” and I was literally just like “uh…what even is ‘zero-waste??’” After
doing some research and figuring out exactly why people were angry, I decided
to slowly phase out as much plastic as I possibly could. I want to say that CFC has been 99.9% plastic-free for the past two years or so, but there will always be
areas that need improvement – as mentioned before, it’s a journey!"
I think it is really cool that you have previous retail experience. It is so helpful for marketing and now it is different because you can believe in the products. A lot of people don't understand that all business are create because a demand is not being met. It is so much more obtainable than people think. It is a lot of work but it is so rewarding. Brand ethics are so important and got to make sure your brands has a story even if it is a journey. And i love that it is!
What inspired you to create your own brand instead of just making it for you and
your family and friends?
"The need for it! Things are a bit better now, but back in 2013, there really
weren’t any eco-friendly, vegan beauty brands with affordably-priced products. I
have had to raise my prices a few times, but I am very conscious of it when I do.
I don’t believe in making customers 'pay for a brand.'"
What are the challenges as a brand owner you face when trying to source
"Um, sometimes the packaging you’re looking for just flat-out doesn’t exist!
Unfortunately, there just hasn’t been a high enough demand for plastic-free
makeup yet – help me out, fellow zero-waste warriors! So yes, a lot of CFC’s
products are packaged in containers that weren’t originally meant for makeup.
My mascara vials are a good example of this."
I was really curious about that because I have seen some packaging but especially for small brand it is really lacking.
What is your definition of zero waste?
"I usually go by the industrial definition – “Zero Waste refers to waste prevention as opposed to end-of-pipe waste management.  It is a whole systems approach that aims for a massive change in the way materials flow through society, resulting in no waste. Zero waste encompasses more than eliminating waste
through recycling and reuse, it focuses on restructuring production and distribution systems to
reduce waste.  Zero waste is more of a goal or ideal rather than a hard target” (Spiegelman, H
2006)." That last sentence is important. Nobody can be completely zero-waste, but that
doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always have that goal in mind and try our best to get as
close to it as we can."
What is a major misconception that people have about people who have a zero-
Honestly, as much as I use the phrase, it can definitely be deceptive. As
mentioned earlier, NO ONE is completely zero-waste; that would be impossible.
We’re not perfect. I try as hard as I can within reason, but at the end of the day,
somebody further up my supply chain is using plastic and there’s nothing I can
do about that, save for ask them to omit it for my shipments.
Have you taken any courses to learn or just online?
I am completely self-taught! Although I did major in chemistry for a hot minute,haha. That was the year I learned that just because you enjoy a subject doesn’t
mean you’re intellectually fit enough to make a career out of it! Anyway, I’ve
done a lot of online research over the years, both on places like Pub Med and
then on blogs of people with similar interests. Looking on both ends of the
research spectrum is very important!
That is really interesting! Yes! That is so important. I find this one of the problems with natural cosmetics is they are really set in their ways until they actually make something and then they realize that there is so much more.
What was your thought process in creating mascara?
Oh gosh. The mascara was by far the most physically and mentally taxing, haha.
It also had about a dozen different incarnations before the current formula. The
goal was to find a combination of ingredients that would provide the same lift,
lengthening, volumizing, and waterproofing capabilities as commercial “everyday
wear” mascara. Sadly, an eco-friendly waterproofing agent has yet to be
invented (waterproof mascara will eventually dry out and damage your lashes
anyway, so maybe this is for the best), but after months of trial and error I’ve got
everything else down!
Believe me I know the struggle! There are some but they are form larger suppliers, so it would be hard to get small quantities. for it.
Given that you have been a business for 5.5 years. What is your consumers most
surprised by in what you make?
People are generally surprised that I make a little bit of everything! And that I’ve
moved beyond the standard subtle, “earth-tone” shades most other sustainable
cosmetic brands sell. I love bright, multi-dimensional shades.
I am glad to hear that because it has become so important to be inclusive and I think that is a great way to do that.
From personal experience, I know that starting a business can be daunting. What
were your deciding factors in starting one?
Honestly, I come from a very frugal family and just wanted to be fiscally prepared
to do it all on my own, with no financial help. To this day, I have never borrowed
money to pay for my business, nor do I ever plan to. I’ve hired individuals for
photography and SEO help a few times, but am very cautious when it comes to
scaling/hiring employees. Far too often, you see these entrepreneurs “following
their dreams” and, right out of the gates, taking out loans to pay for their start-up
and pay their team of employees because they JUST KNOW that if they follow
their heart and believe that the “Law of Attraction” is a thing, their products will go
viral in no time…yyyeahhh no. They tend to not last long. Follow your dreams,
but definitely use your brain, too. Haha.
That is a really good point! I don't really understand that there is a fine line between following a dream and forcing your self in a really stressful environment. I am a great example that no matter the age you can find something you love and make money at it but their should alwas be some common sense.
Looking at the color cosmetics that you sell I noticed that there were a lot of no
traditional colors. In your experience what do you see consumers want in color
There actually seems to be 2 types of people when it comes to this! Plenty of
folks definitely want low-key, “traditional” colors, but a lot of folks come to my
shop strictly for the “wild” stuff, simply because not many other sustainable
cosmetic brands sell those shades. I try to offer the best of both worlds!
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