…no two days are the same, and there’s no road map. Given some of the lessons that I learned early on in my life — from leaving school at 14, or living in the shelter — I was able to refine skills that helped me navigate the choppy waters of entrepreneurship by focusing on what I was good at and building relationships.
Asa part of our series called “My Life as a TwentySomething Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandi Leifso. Brandi Leifso is the 29-year-old CEO and Founder of Evio Beauty Group — a portfolio of conscious lifestyle brands.
Launched in 2019, Evio Beauty features cosmetics and skincare that are affordable, inclusive, vegan and cruelty free, as well as offers a judgement-free zone connecting people through beauty and kindness –at its core Evio Beauty is about sharing the lifestyle of ‘doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.’ Evio’s Evio Skin collection partnered with Aurora Cannabis, one of the world’s largest cannabis companies, are working together to merge beauty and cannabis on a global scale.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
In2012 I was living in a shelter where I founded the concept for Evio Beauty Group. I taught myself how to photoshop, and created a brand of beauty products. With the photoshopped catalogue of products that hadn’t yet been created, I went to boutiques and made pre- sales. The rest is history.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
Wow! That’s a great question. I once drove from Miami to Nashville with a rented pickup truck and 70,000 concealers in the back. I needed to meet the drop off deadline before US Thanksgiving. Along the way we got stuck in the middle of a car chase because a fugitive had escaped prison a couple of miles from where we had pulled over finish labeling the concealers.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes Evio stand out is our truly inclusive nature and our unique human to human connection with our consumers and followers. Evio’s become a product that represents authentic and judgement-free kindness, and community.
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?
There are so many! One from the volunteers in the shelter that was there from day one, to my friends, to my incredibly supportive boyfriend and the investors who became some of my closest friends and confidants. But those that I have to give immense amount of credit to is the people who have been a part of the Evio team, past present and future — everyone has played an important part in getting us here, and in laying the foundation for a really bright future at Evio. I’m so grateful for them.
One person who really impacted me (and who will probably never know just how much) was Sarah — a volunteer in the shelter when I was living there.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We are! We’re working on some really fun experiential shopping exhibits to spread our message and mission for kindness — launching in Spring 2020.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Evio is built on the mission of creating a more conscious, kinder future — and every decision we make leads us back to this. From the material we use to make our boxes/packaging, to the choice to use sustainably and responsibly grown (and replanted) forest for our lip liners, but most of all how we connect with the world. Evio offers a judgement-free zone where beauty — made with good-for-you ingredients and sustainable packaging — builds community fueled by kindness to encourage everyone to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I have never been much of a reader (although I’d love to change this! 2020 resolution for sure.) I have never actually finished a book. I don’t see that as a bad thing, the books that have been so good that I have been inspired to put them down and go live the values taught have been ‘The 4 agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz and ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz.
Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each
Some of the most rewarding:
- Growing at a pace that was at times uncomfortable
- Learning SO much about myself, my boundaries, my abilities and my character when in the best and the worst of times early.
- Getting to create the road map to my own life (If I want it, I’ll find a way to get it)
- Getting to experience incredible moments, from helicopter tours of the highest waterfalls in Hawaii, to lavish Las Vegas parties, to volunteering in Mexico City all in the matter of a month, life moves as fast as you’ll live it.
- Meeting some of the most inspiring, humble, kind and incredible people.
- Some of the most difficult:
- Letting go of friendships and environments that no longer served the person I wanted to become and the goals I had set out for myself
- Dating was very tough
- Having to grow and make challenging decisions at a pace that was uncomfortable
- Not being understood. This was a hard one for me, I really like to be liked, heard and understood. I had to let this go.
- I stopped being invited to things that my friends would be going to because they would assume that I would be out of town or working or that it just wouldn’t excite me anymore
What are the main takeaways that you would advise a twenty year old who is looking to found a business?
Like most, I was really just figuring it out as I went (which if we’re honest, is still the case). As an entrepreneur no two days are the same, and there’s no road map. Given some of the lessons that I learned early on in my life — from leaving school at 14, or living in the shelter — I was able to refine skills that helped me navigate the choppy waters of entrepreneurship by focusing on what I was good at and building relationships.
What advice would you have for other budding entrepreneurs with a unique idea they want to realize?
- All business is, is a human to human interaction that results in a transaction. Get to know the human behind every transaction.
- Trust your gut
- Don’t get too attached to any one thing or idea
- Invest in relationships and double down on those who invest in you
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂 –
I would love to have breakfast with is Emily Weiss. I admire that she breaks the rules when the rules don’t make sense. That she approached our industry with fresh eyes and dismissed the decade old ways of the approach to beauty, she’s done things that makes sense for the consumer and have put beauty on the map while remaining grounded and authentic. I feel in many ways she has fought for something that at Evio we can now embrace and continue to carry the torch for more beauty underdogs to continue to think differently and approach the industry with a human state of mind. Emily, will you join me for a New York breakfast? I’m free January 24th, 2020 if you are? 🙂
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media? @eviobeauty @brandileifso
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!