Makeup that you can trust is vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free and sustainable is something that hasn’t always been easy to find. That’s exactly why Melodie Reynolds, Founder & CEO of Elate Cosmetics, decided to start her company.
We’ve caught up with Melodie, to find out more about this unique and inspirational Canadian cosmetics brand.
Q: What was the motivation behind starting Elate Clean Cosmetics?
I was a professional makeup artist for almost 20 years (I have since retired, because running my company does take most of my time, and to be honest it is what I am the most passionate about); during that time I was looking around the marketplace, and I felt that while there were a lot of vegan companies on the market, there weren’t a lot that were also non-toxic, cruelty-free and sustainable.
And so I wanted to create a product that would hit all four of those things because those are the most important things to me when it comes to the way I live my life, and the products that I like to support. There were a few products on the marketplace that I did enjoy, but they didn’t hit all four of those things, and they didn’t perform they way I needed them to for my professional work.
We’re also gluten-free because people suffering from Celiac disease also have a hard time finding cosmetics to use.
Q: Elate Clean Cosmetics is certified vegan & cruelty-free by PETA and certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny program; why was it important to obtain these certifications?
It was really important to me to obtain those two certifications because I feel that they are the most recognized and the most trusted. There are a lot of companies out on the market that I think perhaps, claimed to be vegan but actually weren’t. I don’t know if there’s a term for it in the vegan world, but in the non-toxic or green beauty world it’s called ‘Greenwashing’; when a company uses its name, or its packaging or its marketing to make you think that its healthy for you when in fact it’s not.
The biggest thing for me, vegan aside, is the cruelty-free portion. There’s no way that a company can claim to be cruelty-free while it still using animal based ingredients in their products, because how on earth were those ingredients obtained? It just doesn’t make any sense. So, cruelty-free and vegan go hand-in-hand, and I think I wanted to obtain both of those certifications so my greater community could see that we were serious about maintaining a cruelty-free status. Also, we want our community to be comfortable with using our products and not feel like we are, pardon the pun, trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
Q: Do you find it difficult to formulate products without the use of animal-derived, tested, or generally harmful ingredients?
That is such a good question, and actually no, I didn’t find it difficult. I thought that it would be in the beginning, but to be honest, there are so many alternatives on the market, and I say this in all of the local classes that I teach about sustainable and conscious living, is there is always an alternative that is readily available to something that is cruel.
People often think that the opposite of kindness is cruelty, and so when we’re thinking about the word ‘cruelty’, what we’re thinking about is the antithesis of kindness, and it is. However I like to draw the parallel between the idea that the opposite of kindness isn’t cruelty, it’s inattention. And so, when I think about cruelty and I think about animal-derived ingredients, or animal tested products, I’m not thinking about that we need to be kinder, I’m thinking that we need to pay more attention.
There are so many times when we just mindlessly consume or we mindlessly eat something, or we mindlessly put something on our bodies, or even we just mindlessly buy a t-shirt, and I think that the most important thing in our world today is to be conscious, and to pay attention to the things that we are using and the companies that we are supporting.
Q: Why do you think beauty companies still use animal and insect-derived ingredients, as well as harsh chemicals in their cosmetics?
I don’t actually have a good answer to that; I have worked for a number of large companies in the past, and I know that when I question their practices the answers that I received were along the lines of, “this is the way that we’ve always done it”, or, “it’s too expensive to change now”. I wasn’t personally happy with any of those answers, which is why I decided to start my own company, of course.
Q: Do you have any products that customers can’t seem to get enough of?
Yes, we definitely notice that our mascara is our number one seller, and I think that’s because even for women who “don’t wear makeup” (and I use quotations around that sentence because I definitely know that I’m one of them – I know that’s funny, I own a makeup company but I “don’t wear makeup”, but I wear mascara every single day…), and I think that is just something that we as women have decided “yep, we want to see our lashes”.
So a good vegan, cruelty-free and toxin-free mascara is hard to find, and ours is spectacular, so that’s definitely one that people love. We also have a product called “Universal Cream”, and it’s a 2-1 product, so it again is eliminating more waste. It also comes in a totally waste-free package so, that would be the next product that people really love, which makes me very happy.
Q: Has Elate been getting a lot of celebrity/media/blogger attention?
I don’t know about celebrity attention so much, we’re just the little company that could here in Canada, but we definitely have really great relationships with media and bloggers. And what I love the most, is that while it would be amazing to have a celebrity endorsement, what I really love is seeing my favourite “everyday people” using our product, because it really is an every day product.
My goal is that every person who wants to wear cosmetics, I want to see at least one piece of Elate in their beauty bag, because of course we vote with our dollars, and by purchasing one of our products as opposed to purchasing that has been tested on animals, you are sending a message to those companies.
And I think the big thing is recognizing that there are a lot of companies that claim vegan or cruelty-free status and still are selling their products in countries where animal testing is mandatory. It’s just about education and information, and again, it’s that consciousness and that noticing and that paying attention of what it is that we’re purchasing and putting on and in our bodies.
Q: What are some of the most satisfying aspects of running Elate?
Honestly, it’s getting to work with my team everyday towards creating a better world. I think at the end of the day my only goal, personally as well as professionally, is to leave the world a little bit better than I found it, and if we can take some of that inattention and cruelty and turn it back into consciousness and kindness, that would just make me the happiest person in the world.
Everyday I do get to see a little bit of the fruits of those labours, and I’m happy to say that people are liking what we’re doing and wanting to live that lifestyle, and that is so incredibly satisfying and rewarding; getting to see that we can help people live a better life, or live the life that they want to live.
Q: Where can Elate products be purchased?
You can purchase them online, at elatebeuaty.com, and we also have 70 retailers across Canada, so we have retailers in every province. And we’re actually heading into the U.S. now, so you will be able to find Elate in a number of states over the next few months!