To celebrate the launch of Axiology in 100 ULTA stores, I wanted to take a moment to reminisce on how we got here.
How I started
I’ve been dedicated to animal welfare since I can remember. Growing up, I was the kid at school who had Peta stickers all over her binder with messages like “I’m not a nugget” over a picture of a baby chick.
I had already been vegan for a few years and vegetarian for most of my life when I found out that animal testing in beauty still exists, and that all the makeup I had been using for years supported animal cruelty. So, yeah, I was pretty devastated — so much so that the discovery pushed me to start Axiology.
It was then that I decided that I would only use makeup products that were vegan (no animal derived ingredients at all) and cruelty-free (no animal testing).
Oddly, this was not an easy switch. At the time, vegan cosmetics could be found mostly only on Etsy and had kinda lame branding that I wasn’t excited about. There was one vegan lipstick brand that was popular at the time and I ended up purchasing like 5 of those vegan lipsticks — but every single one I tried to apply broke in half on the first try because the formulation was so dry.
I had just finished the famous book, The Artist’s Way, which is a workbook centered around developing a more creative and artistic life (it’s life changing, and I highly recommend it). Because I was fueled with all of this creative energy, I thought to myself, “well maybe I’ll just make my own lipsticks” and so it began.
The Lipstick-Making Journey
Here’s the truth: I have no background in any of this. I am not a chemist, nor did I have any experience in the beauty industry. I did, however, have drive. I was determined to create a lipstick that didn’t harm animals. Period.
I looked up recipes for lip balms and lipsticks on Youtube and blogs, investigated other lipstick companies’ ingredients, and bought tons and tons of raw ingredients. From there, it was just trial and error in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen (Side note: I highly recommend not having roommates if you decide to do something crazy like this or your roommates will end up hating you).
It took me more than 200 formulations to come up with a lipstick I was ready to launch. Not exaggerating here — more than 200 formulations! I was mixing/melting/pouring/testing lipstick everyday before and after work.
At one point, my now fiancé said to me, “hey, if you’re really going to do this, we should move somewhere that we can live a lot less expensively than NYC so you can really get your business off the ground.”
This is when and where I really got serious about Axiology and realized that the effort I put into creating a lipstick would lead to the birth of a business.
So, with this new understanding that YES, I was creating a business, Eric (my fiancé and, yes, we have the same name) moved to Bali. Why Bali? Two reasons: 1) Bali is a big entrepreneurship hub, meaning lots of entrepreneurs live and work there and it was important for us to have a community, and 2) We could live and eat inexpensively so I could put all my time and energy into Axiology.
We packed up our suitcases (one of which was packed full of raw butters, oils, pigments and lipstick molds). My bag always got searched at security so I would explain to everyone that I was starting a vegan lipstick company. The TSA workers would smile and say, “oh, wow, good luck” and I was so thankful they didn’t take away my precious ingredients.
While in Bali, I was formulating even MORE and figuring out all the necessary things like packaging (find out more about our Axiology boxes, which I discovered in Bali, here), legalities, creating a website, picking a name, the list goes on and on.
While I was getting so much done in Bali and had all the time in the world to work on Axiology, there was no way I could actually launch a business while there. Some of the reasons include 1) Eric and I were sharing a studio that only had a 2 burner stove (not enough for melting all those lipsticks!) 2) Shipping and receiving from Bali is a nightmare 3) Finding random things I needed was really hard. Eric and I spent a whole day once trying to find glass Pyrex so I could melt ingredients 4) I got Dengue fever and that was that.
We ended up moving to Bend, OR because we love nature and wanted to be surrounded by trees. We moved there sight unseen and came with a few suitcases (one of mine having all my lipstick making supplies again) to move into an Airbnb for 6 months. We figured if we ended up not liking Bend, we could just move again.
We fell in love with Bend and it would've been impossible to move, anyway, because I ended up launching Axiology here from my kitchen in November 2014.
A lot has happened since that launch including incredible highs (we were the smallest brand ever to launch in Sephora, being written up in Forbes, hiring incredible employees, and creating our own real lab) and serious lows (this should maybe be a whole series).
This crazy ride has led us to another milestone. Our launch at ULTA! We couldn’t be more excited to sell our zero waste multi use Balmies at ULTA. It’s been my dream to create a business that cares for animals, people and the planet. And to see that other people want products from businesses that care is truly the best reward. Balmies are 100% vegan and cruelty free and they are the first multi use product to contain no plastic and no packaging (meaning nothing pollutes our planet). We’re super proud of them.
We love you all and thank you x a million for supporting us over and over again.
PS — If you would like to support our business and launch at ULTA, pick up one of our Balmies sets in person at one of our 100 ULTA locations found HERE. And if you truly enjoy our products, please leave us a review. It goes a long way for a small business such as ours!