As regular natural beauty tester, I'm always thrilled when I spot new cruelty-free makeup on the market. Elate Cosmetics hails from the far end of Canada, bringing with it a fresh take on toxin-free makeup industry. Their latest spring collection - a unique set of bamboo makeup tools - just launched, and it's all about creating your own beauty rituals. These multi-use products are bound to brighten your day. I spoke to Melodie Reynolds, founder of Elate Cosmetics and an award-winning makeup artist, about the beauty brand's journey and their latest launch.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
Tell us a little bit about your professional background. What got you started with Elate Cosmetics?
I've been in the beauty industry for over 20 years now. My mum guided me into it after I decided to leave university, because I’d always liked doing hair and makeup. I was a bit reluctant at first, but you can’t ignore your mother’s wisdom, right? I spent years working, travelling Europe, and it was during that time that I made a bit of a switch in my personal life. I decided that I no longer wanted to have toxic things in my life. I guess most people go through a similar quarter-life crisis. But it was a really big deal for me, because the thing that I did for living was one of the most toxic things in my life. The products that I was using contained parabens and chemicals, artificial fragrances, and all of these things were actually contributing to my overall degrading health at the time. So I knew I had to leave this path behind. At the time, I was living in the UK with my partner. Back then, one of the things that I really focused on was taking workshops on how to make your own skincare products. When we decided to come back to Canada, it was at that point that I had the opportunity to put what I had learned into practice. And everything just sort of rolled on from there. It's been a long journey and I'm really excited to see where we are now, because of the things that were so important to me to put forth into the world. For me, what I've always wanted to contribute is something that makes the world a better place, and that's what we're trying to do at Elate.
What has been the biggest hurdle so far in creating your own beauty line?
I guess my biggest obstacle has always just been myself. I have a supportive partner and a great community of female entrepreneurs here in Victoria, Canada. I’m not averse to risk, but the problem with that is that sometimes I leap before I look. For instance, when I first started the company, it wasn't called Elate, it was called something different, because I got really excited. So, I put in the application for the trademark and then I created the labels and I created the website without actually waiting for that trademark application to come back. And, of course, as it happens, someone else had already taken it! So halfway through my launch, I had to change the name of my product. I approach obstacles in the same way that I approach everything - by looking at it as though I'm going to make a new friend.
"I decided that I no longer wanted to have toxic things in my life. I guess most people go through a similar quarter-life crisis."
What is the one motto that Elate Cosmetics follows every day?
We're in such a beautiful time for diversity and for equality, and for supporting our LGBTQ friends. I don’t want my products to be political, but we do make a statement when we say makeup is for everyone. Beauty isn’t just about being a woman. It’s about being a person. And every person has the right to look and feel great without harming their health. We all might struggle with self-esteem and the feeling like we don’t fit in. But everyone has the right to feel beautiful. That’s what Elate is all about. So even if we make products that you might never use, we still hope that our messaging resonates with you, and perhaps makes you feel a bit better.
What makes the brand stand out from other natural cosmetics lines?
We are business-minded, but at Elate, it’s just so much more than that. What I care the most about is the people that work for my company, the people that are affected by my company, and our customers. And even though it doesn't necessarily sound like it, that can be an obstacle. Like this whole idea of the old-school way of doing business, being better than someone else: that’s so unnecessary. The word 'competition' actually derives from two Latin words that mean “to strive together”. The original connotation of the word is that we are striving together towards making the whole world better. So, when I get asked what makes us different, or who our biggest competitors are, I say that there are none. That's not me being arrogant. I'm not in competition with any other natural beauty companies, because we are all striving to make the beauty industry a better place. And so, I don't see them as my competition, I see them as my comrades. Even if we have the exact same shade of lipstick, it's coming from Elate, which means that it's coming from me and my team, and that’s what makes it unique.
"Beauty isn’t just about being a woman. It’s about being a person."
Let’s talk a bit about the latest, Spring 2018, collection. What’s the inspiration behind that?
Every year, we do two different seasonal collections. Our makeup artists use our products in different ways and I was really inspired by the idea that you can give someone a tool, but they're going to use it in a completely different way than you might use it. And so I was struck by this idea of creation and the tools that we use for creation. Creation isn't just about making art. It's about taking a moment to be courageous, or to be brave, either in your own life or in the public life. And I think that there are not many opportunities that we get in our daily lives to be courageous. And it's such a beautiful feeling. So the idea of using your creativity as a chance to be brave in your own life can move you forward with other things. I was also very much inspired by my 5-year-old, who loves to draw. She always asks me, “Mommy, what do I draw?”, and then ends up drawing all these fantastical pictures. And she's not shy about showing me, because she doesn't care if it's good. She’s always proud of what she made. So, the Create Collection is a series of tools. Our cruelty-free brushes have sustainable bamboo handles and vegan fibres. We brought in some new blush tones with this launch as well. For our Spring 2018 collection photo shoot, we took these tools and our products and used them in many different ways, too. We used a lot of colour, and we really got back into makeup as an art form.
"I think that there are not many opportunities that we get in our daily lives to be courageous. And it's such a beautiful feeling."
If you had to describe Elate Cosmetics as an animal, what pops into your head and why?
That's a really good question. The minute you said that question, the first thing that came into my mind was a Siberian tiger. I imagine, probably, because that's an animal that I myself find quite alluring and mysterious, and unique and very special. It’s a species that is dwindling in numbers, but brings people together for a greater good, so I guess that’s why I like it. And then the second animal that popped into my head was a peacock, probably because of the loud call and crazy dance that they do to get your attention. So I think that we might be a combination of those two creatures. A tiger and a peacock.