Vegan Mofo Day 19: Interview with Chantal from Cheeky Cosmetics

As a vegan, it can sometimes be difficult to find cosmetics that aren’t tested on animals, don’t contain any animal products and are made from all-natural, organic ingredients. Lucky for us, there are companies like Cheeky Cosmetics. Cheeky Cosmetics focuses on producing 100% handmade mineral make-up that’s perfect for those of us that have sensitive skin. Plus, they have all kinds of funky colors to choose from! I was lucky enough to talk to Chantal, the creator of Cheeky Cosmetics and find out how she got involved in creating cruelty-free cosmetics.  

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from Mississauga, Ontario, but the Okanagan Valley of B.C. is my home. (Although, I’m currently spending a few months in Montreal, my favourite city!) I’m a little bit nerdy, a little bit artsy, and addicted to crafts of all kinds. I’m always looking for products that don’t exist, which is helpful when creating a business, but very frustrating when shopping!

When did you open Cheeky Cosmetics? And how did the idea of creating a cosmetic line come about?

In June of 2009, I put my website online (although, I had been working on developing the products and setting up the business since the previous fall). I’m a vegetarian with sensitive skin and rosacea, so it’s always been a challenge to find products that don’t irritate my skin, but cover the redness, are cruelty-free, and as natural as possible. I was searching the internet for products and couldn’t find anything that met my criteria, so I decided to try making my own!

When first creating your business, were there many challenges you had to face to get it up and running?

Definitely! Lack of money was probably the biggest challenge. I had no idea how much it would cost to start a business, and I had only been out of school and working for a year, so I had lots of student loans and no savings. Banks don’t take internet businesses seriously, so it was difficult. The other major challenge was not knowing what kind of paperwork needed to be filed to make the business legal. I bought some basic business books, but that was definitely the least fun part.

What did you do before you creating Cheeky Cosmetics?

I was a high school math teacher. Very different, I know!

From your experience of running a successful business, what advice could you pass along to others interested in following a similar path?

It takes more time and money to start up than you think it will, but it’s worth it, so don’t give up! Only spend money on things you need (easier said than done), then be patient while people discover you and tell their friends. Advertising doesn’t really help much, so focus on your products and customer service, and let your business grow organically.

Why did you decide to use all organic & vegan ingredients in your products? What are your most popular items?

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 14, and I’ve always tried to use more natural products, so it was really just an extension of the way I live my life. I also have very sensitive skin that can’t handle a lot of the mainstream products out there. My most popular item is definitely the foundation. It’s such an essential, especially for people like me with sensitive skin who tend to have more redness to cover and a tendency to react to less natural ingredients.

Being a unique business, did you find you had a lot of success upon opening or was it more gradual?

It’s been more of a steady growth since opening. The first few months I only had a handful of customers because no one knew I existed, but word-of-mouth started spreading, and it just grew from there.

Out of all your products, which would you say is your favorite and why?

Definitely the foundation. I have rosacea and dark circles under my eyes, so foundation/concealer is the one product I can’t live without!

Describe what a typical day is like in your life.

I’m not a morning person, so my day starts fairly late – a great bonus when working from home! I start my day with a big bowl of oatmeal while I check my email. I don’t really follow a set routine, but usually I pack up orders and answer emails first, then I walk to the post office to drop them off. Then I make more products, print labels, order supplies, etc. In the evening is when I tend to have ideas for new products, so planning often keeps me up late!

Who are some people that inspire you?

My mom really inspires me. She has always valued independent and creative thinking. She’s true to herself, and doesn’t worry about what other people think.

What can we expect to see in the future for Cheeky Cosmetics?

I’m hoping to have a line of skin care ready by next spring. A lot of people have been asking about it, and I’ve been making my own for years, so I just need to fine-tune my recipes and experiment for other skin types.

The lovely Chantal herself.

Thank you Chantal!
Want to try out Cheeky Cosmetics for yourself? You can order samples of Chantal’s products here. Or if you’re ready to commit, you can order directly from the Cheeky Cosmetics website or from any of the retail locations listed here.

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