In Conversation with Melodie Reynolds of Elate Cosmetics
Describe your business in a few words?
Elate Cosmetics is all about ethical sustainable beauty products that inspire joy.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I had always assumed I was a good and conscious environmental citizen. Until I had an experience where I purchased a lipstick product, and as I unwrapped it I created a pile of garbage in front of me. It was the first time after 10 years in the beauty industry that I had thought about the amount of waste that cosmetic companies produce. I knew I could make a difference.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I’ve been in the beauty industry for 20 years now, prior to starting Elate I worked as the director of education for North America for a large international cosmetic company. I loved all the different facets of my job, how I connected with chemists about product development as well as connecting with business owners about how our products helped improve their businesses. This gave me such a great basis to start my company.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Absolutely not! When I finished high school I wanted to be an accountant. am I glad I did not go down that road, I would have been a terrible accountant. It’s funny it seems like it was a series of fortunate events that led me to where I am today. Entrepreneurship is definitely not for the faint of heart, and although it is like a roller coaster I love it all.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
When I first started Elate I had absolutely zero marketing budget. I knew that I would have to be scrappy and do things in a slightly different way. I launched an Instagram account with the intention of educating my community on what I was trying to do, sustainable Cosmetics was just something that people were starting to think about and definitely wasn’t the mainstream. I used my social media accounts to connect with people who would eventually become my customers. I believe then, and I still believe now that education leads to empowerment which leads to conscious and more ethical choices and we still follow this philosophy today for how we interact with our community.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
One of my biggest mistakes from the very beginning was trying to do everything myself. Because we are an entirely self-funded company I was always trying to save money by learning the tools and doing things on my own. I learned pretty quickly that this is not the way to grow a company, and now my mandate is always recognized when I am not good at and bring somebody on board who is good at it. I wasted so much time and money in the early days, trying to save time and money.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I am incredibly proud of my team here at Elate. We have a team that embodies our core values in their work everyday. Everyone truly cares about each other and the work that we are doing. Our company culture is second to none, in fact when the pandemic hit earlier this year instead of having to lay anyone off everyone on the team worked reduced hours so we could stay together and keep everybody working. so special to be a part of a group of people who believe so wholeheartedly and your vision that they would sacrifice for each other and for the team and for the company.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
My favorite interview question is: tell me about a time you failed. The ability to fail and get back up again and learn from it is such a valuable skill. when we are bringing someone on our team at a late I want to know that they have experienced failure in their life and they have been able to get up from it but here’s the secret every single person has experienced a failure the key difference is someone who’s able to recognize it and is willing to talk about it. Those are the people who truly have self-awareness and enough curiosity to explore what they did in the past and how they can make it better in the future. When it comes to hiring for us we are interested in bringing on people that have great skills, but we are more interested in bringing on people that have personality traits that mean they want to learn things and grow with our company. We look for things like kindness, curiosity, work ethic, humility and empathy. You can teach someone how to do almost anything, but you can’t teach someone how to be a great person to work with.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our business looks significantly impacted as we do partner with brick and mortar stores all over the world. Our e-commerce store continues to flourish but the large part of our business that is supporting our brick and mortar partners took a big hit. Our philosophy throughout it all has been to support our partners to make sure that when they can open their doors again we are there to help.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We have some amazing projects that we are working on this year! our passion for moving the beauty industry forward towards a more sustainable future knows no bounds. We are working on packaging redesign, as well as using more sustainable materials and creating refillable tubes. We also have some really exciting product formulations we are working on within the waterless realm.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
My biggest lesson was definitely that although we always loved celebrating our accomplishments, during the global pandemic sometimes it was just as important to celebrate the things we decided not to do. Taking a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture is something that I need to do more often, in 2020 reminded me of that fact. That as the founder of my company it is my job to position us for the future whatever that future will bring.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
One of the most powerful things that I have learned during the last six years of my business is the power of collaboration. I wish I knew when I was first starting my business how many people really want to help you succeed.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I have an eight-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son. They definitely keep me on the ground, I am so passionate about my work that without them waiting for me at home I would be here 24 hours a day so remembering to take time to spend for myself and with my family has helped me stay connected.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe in a flow more so than a balance and for me my tips on maintaining that flow is identifying what your priorities are and setting up boundaries around them. For me my number one priority is my self-care and my health so I make sure that the first thing that goes in my calendar every day or every week or every year is exercise time and time for me to be outside and then I schedule in time with my family and then I move everything to my business then. It may seem counterproductive to producing a successful business but adequate time for yourself scheduled in is what actually helps you have high quality thinking that helps your business be successful.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I love music and I play the ukulele everyday. In fact when I first started Elate I was living in the UK playing in a ukulele band.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
I start every single day with a short meditation and journaling. Then I make a pot of tea and take 15 mins to organize my to-do’s and thoughts. I take a break to eat, and usually try to get at least a 15 min walk in. The best way to stay productive is to take time to rest.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista to me means being on the forefront of a sustainable movement and recognizing that leadership is not a benefit to yourself but an obligation to others and to the world in terms of how we leave it.