Melodie Reynolds has a clear vision of where she wants to steer her Victoria company, Eluma Beauty Inc. “The more brands we have, the better it is to reduce waste in the beauty industry,” says Reynolds, Eluma’s founder and CEO as well as CEO of Eluma’s two subsidiaries, Elate Cosmetics and Foster Skincare.
In November 2021, the 2015 Douglas 10 to Watch winner purchased Miiko Skin Co. from Kimiko West. The acquisition is allowing Reynolds to build on her existing sustainable product lines that focus on refillable bottles and B.C.-sourced ingredients. Elate is the makeup arm while Foster (formerly Miiko) offers body and face care products that are produced locally but enrich faces and bodies around the world.
Focus on sustainability
“We need to do more with less. We need to keep packaging out of the landfills,” says Reynolds, mother of a nine-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. Every year, packaging for 120 billion cosmetic items is produced, with 70 percent of it dumped into landfills. Our false belief that recycling handles a majority of that waste is referred to “wish-cycling,” Reynolds says. Recycling is a business, not a planet-saving initiative. Which is why Reynolds is so focused on eliminating packaging and offering refillable containers.
What’s inside the reusable vessels is just as important: Foster’s products, such as facial cleansers, use Vancouver Island honey, B.C. olive oil and Castile soap. Toners use apple cider vinegar from Spinnakers. Hand-made, in small batches, without preservatives, the Foster footprint is small but the purity is big. “It’s not your $8 face cream from the drug store,” Reynolds says.
Kimiko West knows that the company she created, Miiko, is in attentive hands. “I knew Melodie could do it. I saw how she grew her company and I saw how she really cared for things on the inside. That’s really rare,” says West, (whose name changed from Foster to West following marriage).
West had wanted to grow the successful Miiko, but between her low risk tolerance and the large amount of work necessary, it wasn’t the time. As well, she was going to be a new mother. “It felt like I was at a fork in the road,” Foster says.
In May 2021, Reynolds contacted West to explore a partnership or collaboration. The two were well-acquainted, having shared lessons learned in the sustainable beauty business. West visited Eluma’s Rock Bay premises, where it was just the space West envisioned if she were to expand.
Aware of the demands of new motherhood, West says she didn’t feel a partnership was viable, so in September, she pitched the sale of Miiko. The offer was accepted that month and in October, the two entrepreneurs dealt with the transfer of intellectual properties. On November 1, the sale was complete. And on December 3, West’s daughter Nozomi was born.
Keeping it local
“If you’re going to give up your dream, give to to someone you feel good about,” Reynolds says of West’s decision to sell. For West, the sale was akin to sending your child off to university after having nurtured their youth.
One change was the new name. Miiko, meaning “beautiful child,” was tied to West’s heritage and Reynolds wasn’t keen on cultural appropriation. After several marketing meetings and lots of whiteboard whittling, the name Foster was chosen. Not only was it West’s former surname, but it also means to promote the development of something good (in this case sustainable body products). “We’re really focused on eliminating packaging and keeping the footprint small,” Reynolds says.
In May, Foster Skincare products were available at 23 B.C. retailers and one Ontario shop. She’s just hired two salespeople with the aim to reach 100 Canadian retailers by the end of 2022. In 2023, U.S. expansion is the goal. Reynolds is also contemplating her own storefront and she’s keeping an eye on future acquisitions.
West continues to hold on to her green roots. Prior to launching Miiko she led sustainability workshops for business, a vocation she may resume.