Children are more in tune with global politics than we realize. We try to do our best to set a good example and also provide opportunities for learning. The number one thing that I think we can all do as parents is to educate our children about conserving resources starting in the home. Food waste is a really big topic for us. Next would be water waste and turning off all the lights. It’s these simple things that start to allow children to create opinions and form good habits of environmental citizenship.
As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melodie Reynolds of Elate Cosmetics.
With a passion for sustainability and 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, Melodie Reynolds created a company with a simple message: our daily choices create global impact, and choosing ethical products means a more positive result. Since 2014, she’s been in the business of creating innovative beauty products that encourage self-love and empower everyone to make better choices for their daily rituals. Melodie’s values are woven tightly into the fabric of Elate, with kindness at the forefront. At the end of the day, she believes the ethics and purpose of a company all distill down to one thing: how did we leave the people and planet? She encourages the Elate community to see the beauty in everyday routines, and recognize that routine becomes ritual when the action is more important than the result. Her personal mission is to change the world, one lipstick at a time.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve been in the beauty industry for over 20 years. I’ve worn many hats, working in salons and spas and also as a professional editorial makeup artist. (I was North America Makeup Artist of the Year in 2005!).
I’d been coveting a lipstick release from a company that I loved. I went and purchased the lipstick, and when I got it home I began to unwrap it. I took it out of the plastic bag, unwrapped the plastic that was around the box, and took it out of the box. The lipstick itself had more plastic wrapped around it, and by the time I was finished unwrapping it, I was holding the item in my hand and I had created a huge pile of garbage. I’d always considered myself to be a good environmental citizen but I realized in that moment that even I could make purchases without thinking about the impact that has on the planet. I knew that I could make a difference, and the seed for Elate was born.
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
At Elate Cosmetics we make beautifully designed vegan cosmetics that are refillable with an ethical supply chain and sustainability at the heart of everything we do. Our aim is to solve the problem of waste in the beauty industry.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
Woven into the fabric of everything we do at our company is the acknowledgement that we need to do better for all of us. Our daily choices create global impact and for us it’s about educating our customers on how they can make that impact a more positive one by choosing better products for their daily rituals. Starting with our packaging, we want to make sure that our products have an end of life plan so that the consumer isn’t responsible for putting things in the landfill. We started this by using sustainable bamboo instead of plastic for our outer packaging. We are furthering this work with an innovative refillable lipstick and mascara tube. We already have refillable bamboo palettes and compacts and the refills for those come in seed paper, so you plant a garden instead of throwing out a plastic compact. You keep your bamboo compact and refill it. This allows us to lower our overall impact and contribution to waste that ends up in the landfill. We also recognize shipping products to our e-commerce customers contributes to a higher carbon footprint. For this reason we have partnered with One Tree Planted and plant a tree for every order we send out. We have recently undergone B-Corp certification which enables us to measure everything we do to ensure that we are able to keep our footprint as small as possible and actually add back into the world.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Recent research shows that 25% of beauty customers will make a choice towards an eco-friendly package as opposed to one that is not. With brand loyalty being very important to your bottom line, if you provide sustainable alternatives you are giving better service than your competitors which means that ultimately you will become more successful and more profitable. Refillable items as well, are a way to create more profitability within a company. Packaging is expensive and when it is meant to just be thrown away it becomes a liability. With refillable or reusable packaging you are creating an asset not only to your customer but to your company these refillable packages will save you money in the long run and create loyalty that you would not have seen before.
The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
This is a great question as I have an eight year old that is keenly interested in what is happening in the world. Children are more in tune with global politics than we realize. We try to do our best to set a good example and also provide opportunities for learning. The number one thing that I think we can all do as parents is to educate our children about conserving resources starting in the home. Food waste is a really big topic for us. Next would be water waste and turning off all the lights. It’s these simple things that start to allow children to create opinions and form good habits of environmental citizenship. Next would be the products that you bring into your home. Using non-toxic cleaners that don’t pollute our water systems as well as the products that are in your bathrooms and the products that you put on your own skin. We ride our bikes or take the bus instead of driving places whenever possible and we always explain why we’re doing so. Finally reducing consumption — we have talked to our daughter a lot about why we don’t just buy every random thing that it seems like we want because we have to have an end of life plan for the things that we bring into our home.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Elate Beauty and why?
I have so many wonderful mentors and supporters around me, I always feel like I get pretty good advice.
I definitely wish someone told me how much work it is to create a company that is disrupting the status quo — not that I thought it was going to be easy, but it’s definitely a lot of work!
Having staff will take up most of your time, as humans need care and attention to be their best selves and do their best work.
You always need more money than you think you do.
Be sure to hire experts, if you can’t afford to have them on your permanent team, contract them. Accounting, Law, HR these are the things that you won’t necessarily be an expert in so it’s great to have an expert on your side.
Remember to rest. Your company will still be there if you need to take an afternoon off. In order to have high quality thinking you need to take appropriate breaks. Even your brain and your passion need a few hours off.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I absolutely love this question! I know that I’m only where I am today because I stood on the shoulders of giants. Women who have paved the way for me to be able to create a company that is making real change. Personally I have a wonderful friend named Carolyne Taylor, she has been with me from day one — supporting me, cheering me on, and introducing me to people that can provide quality advice. She’s a real connector in our business community and I am so grateful to have her. I also have a few other female CEOs in my pocket as well. Women that have started disruptive companies in their industries and I am so incredibly grateful to be able to surround myself with people making a difference who also understand what it is like to be in my position and can offer a shoulder to cry on, a high five to celebrate or sometimes just a listening ear. Of course, my husband. He is the man behind me, always supportive, even when things get tough.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I love this idea ‘the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.’ This sounds a little bit like utilitarian ethics — which aims for the betterment of society as a whole. I think the most important movement for society right now is reduction of consumption. The way forward within that is to create mandates for more corporate responsibility about how we sell their products and about how those products have been determined to be dealt with at the end of their life. Basically a total reform of capitalism… That sounds pretty easy right? Ha.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
My favorite life lesson quote is: “Start as you intend to continue.” This is from a previous mentor of mine and it really stuck. This is why even though I started Elate when I was a new mom packing boxes in my bathrobe and making lipsticks in my kitchen, I still treated my company as though it were a Global Enterprise — because I knew someday it would be.
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