1. What motivated you to start your own line?
As long-time friends who went to school in Austin at the University of Texas, we were “turned on” to the importance of being mindful regarding products we consume and the ingredients they contain at a relatively early age. We were drinking organic smoothies in the late 80’s at the original little Whole Foods Market on Lamar Boulevard before organic was even cool.
But even then, we didn’t think to apply the same paradigm we were using for food to other categories, including personal care. Funny enough, it wasn’t until years later, once we had all achieved success in our individual careers (Shirley is a world renowned makeup artist, Renée is an elite Cosmetic Dermatologist and James built a branding company focused on sustainability), that we realized whoathe crap we are putting on our skin can be quite harmful.
Based on the synergy of our professional backgrounds (and that we’re best friends) we decided to embark on mission to change the face of makeup for good, filled with an authentic passion and professionalism we found lacking in the industry.
2. How long did it take? When was your product line ready for the general public?
As it turns out, starting a pioneering new company that’s totally changing all the rules ain’t so easy. The journey has been a long and challenging one. The products our friends and fans enjoy now are the culmination of a laborious formulation and testing process six years long. And we are still constantly learning and innovating - that’s what excites us and drives us. We don’t think we’re done by a long shot, so stay tuned for more natural awesomeness!
3. What obstacles did you face along the way?
Um, do you have a few hours? When you’re starting from scratch (read: not going to China to buy stock stuff in tubs) literally everything is a challenge and has a built in learning curve, i.e. investigating and vetting sources for the best in natural and organic ingredients.
Oddly we were sometimes our own biggest obstacle, James would be pushing for an exclusively organic formula on a given product, but Shirley would put her foot down, if for some reason the payoff and texture weren’t just perfect. That’s why though we are absolutely 100% natural with no cheating, no chemicals, no petroleum or petroleum by products, the one area we may compromise is organic levels.
Believe it or not, some organic ingredients act differently from their natural counterparts and that difference is not always desirable cosmetically. This is a living example of the beauty and benefit of W3LL PEOPLE and the dichotomy of its founders.
4. Who did you draw your inspiration from?
Given the difference in our personalities and professional backgrounds, W3LL PEOPLE taps a funky and fabulous variety of inspirations.
Shirley, who clearly leads the artistry of W3LL PEOPLE, draws from her amazing apprenticeship with the infamous François Nars and working with the likes of Naomi Campbell. Renée is inspired daily by the patients she treats who are sometimes facing life or death situations and the daunting impact of the choices we all make. James reaches back to his early formative years farming with his grandfather in rural Santa Fe, New Mexico and the love of nature was born during that time.
5. What is unique, different or special about your brand?
Well if you haven’t guessed by now, it’s the sum our parts, or minds in this case. Our synergistic, multi-disciplinary backgrounds enable us to bring a holistic and effective solution to the world of makeup the like of which have never been seen before.
6. Have you or your products ever won any awards?
We are happy to say we’ve achieved quite a cult status in a relatively short amount of time, whether it’s Halle Berry loving us or W Magazine touting us as one of the Best Six New Makeup Brands. And trust us, we’re flattered by the awards and attention. But we’re careful about being too focused on press awards, we’re focused on our client and her stories and her praise. That’s what turns us on and keeps us going.
7. What is the story behind the name W3LL PEOPLE?
We’re clearly not another “me too” brand and we want our name to embody that. So instead of traditional, narcissistic naming conventions, we chose a name that communicates the culture of wellness we want to create - we just want to look freakin’ fabulous doing it.
8. How do you feel about changes in the organic beauty movement?
We’re mostly optimistic and encouraged by all the real people working toward real, positive change. Clearly we’re not gonna go back to a time where it’s OK to put toxic crap on your skin that’s hazardous to your health and the world we live in.
So kudos to vanguards and certain media for shining a light on this issue. And kudos to the power of the mindful consumer making change mandatory for a lot of sleepy companies.
That said, the green washing by some corporations and the lack of action by governing bodies is sometimes disconcerting given how hard we’re working. But finding true beauty sometimes takes time and we are not stopping!
9. If you had to choose one product that you cannot live without, that you feel says everything about W3LL PEOPLE – what would it be?
The Universalist ColorStick. The name says it all and has such the perfect vibe given who we are as a company. Never mind that this little magic stick creates some seriously radiant color on the go, anywhere you want it, instantly.
10. What are some of the hot new trends in makeup for the coming season?
We’re completely smitten with the tough, moto-chic style happening. And we love the contradiction of the soft/meek stereotype seen the natural beauty category against the in-your-face attitude of rock n’ roll. So we’re launch a whole new Fall + Winter Campaign built on the concept of “Natural Warrior.” Cool, no? We’re ready to fight for natural beauties everywhere!