10 to Watch 2015: Elate Clean Cosmetics

“Elate is completely natural, completely healthy and it’s sustainable, but it also works the way professional makeup artists need it to work.”

Photograph by Jeffrey Bosdet.

Anyone who feels the cosmetics industry is only skin deep will change their minds when they discover how much heart and soul Melodie Reynolds has put into creating Elate Clean Cosmetics.

This spring, Reynolds, who has been a Victoria-based makeup artist for 16 years, launched a commercial cosmetics company that is cruelty-free and chemical-free. “You can even eat my lipstick if you want to,” Reynolds laughs.

Elate supports the concept of “clean beauty,” from its ingredients (no petrochemicals, animal products, harsh preservatives or ingredients that compromise FairTrade) to its sustainably grown bamboo packaging. Reynolds envisions one day having completely biodegradable packaging, including labels made from bio-stone.

She notes the cosmetic industry competition is “fiercely fierce” so Elate is also designed to perform at the professional level expected by makeup artists.

Elate has two divisions: a makeup division and a workshop division to teach clients to make their own skincare and bodycare products. “It’s about transparency,” she says. “I would much rather share my knowledge with people than keep it to myself. And if one of them chooses to then start their own company, awesome. I hope they contact me because I’d love to invest.”

Her vision is huge, but she’s up for it.“A friend of mine said, ‘I hear you’re starting a home-based business?’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m going to start a world-class company that just happens to based out of my home.’ So I’m always thinking bigger and figuring out what the next thing is for me.”

Q&A with Melodie Reynolds of Elate

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

To treat my company as if it were a person. I’m a person and I have a personality, a soul, ethics and values — so does my company. So I have a map in the shape of a person with a nametag that says, “Hello, I’m Elate.” … Would I like this person if this is what they were saying or doing?

What was the scariest business startup moment for you?

I started with a different name but found someone had trademarked it. It was early on so I changed my name. But I didn’t learn! I’d trademarked the new name in Canada but not the U.S., even though I want to expand there … but someone had registered Elate in the U.S. I drank half a bottle of wine and got some good advice. Fortunately, it actually turned out OK.

Elate Clean Cosmetics Business Profile

Type of business: Sustainable cosmetics company

Year founded: 2014

Owner/principal: Melodie Reynolds

Employees: 1

What sets you apart? Walk into any cosmetics store and you’ll find products that are chemical free but not cruelty free, or cruelty free but not chemical free. Elate has no chemicals and it’s not tested on animals.

This article is from the April/May 2015 issue of Douglas.