Evelyn Iona: Cosmetics With A Cause

08/09/2016 10:12 am ET

Your life isn’t the only one that’ll be transformed when you add this natural makeup line to your beauty routine.

Besides doing good for women, the brand is also about <i>being</i> good for women with all natural and organic <a href="http:
McCall Hatton
Besides doing good for women, the brand is also about being good for women with all natural and organic ingredients.

As a $170 billion industry, cosmetics carry the potential to make a difference. A difference that Brandi Leifso recognized and used as motivation to start her own makeup line, Evelyn Iona Cosmetics. A natural and organic makeup line designed to support and empower women, a cause that is very personal to Leifso.

“In 2012, I was in a relationship that got very unhealthy so I ended up living in a women’s shelter in Vancouver,” says Leifso. “When you are in a shelter, sleeping on a bunk, sharing a room with four other women, you really do feel defeated.”

During this period, Leifso had time to think about what happened, how she could make a change and most importantly, how she could get back on her feet.

“I always loved the art of makeup,” says Leifso. “What I love most is that it’s a tool of empowerment. On some of my worst days ― when days got really really tough ― going to put on my favorite makeup made it a better day.”

So Leifso began working with other women in the shelter to turn an idea into a product and a product into a brand. An affordable, luxury makeup line that was not only good for women but gave back to women.

&ldquo;I always loved the art of makeup,&rdquo; says Evelyn Iona Cosmetics founder, Brandi Leifso. &ldquo;What I love most is
McCall Hatton
“I always loved the art of makeup,” says Evelyn Iona Cosmetics founder, Brandi Leifso. “What I love most is that it’s a tool of empowerment."

To gain a following, Leifso utilized her photoshop skills to design a catalog, sent it around to stores and threw a launch party, which ended with an ‘in’ to Boston-based start up, Gloss48. “And that was Evelyn Iona Cosmetics’ first big break.”

“Since we launched [in December 2013], we’ve grown huge. We have partnerships with Ipsy and BirchBox...which really flourished online sales and got our name out across the U.S.”

As the company expanded, Leifso used the brand as a resource to go beyond helping herself, when she began donating $1 from each product sold to the YWCA Canada. “An organization dedicated to helping nearly 25 million women and girls, per year, flee violence, secure housing, find jobs, establish their voices, enhance their skills and develop confidence.”

“I happened to fall into the statistic of growing up in a shelter and going on to fall into one [again] as I was older,” says Leifso. “This position reminds me that I have control and power. And that I’m able to show that to women who have been in similar situations, it makes me feel like I have too much to lose.”

Besides doing good for women, the brand is also about being good for women with all natural and organic ingredients - something that is evident in the ingredient list that reads more like a menu than a cosmetic label. “We have mascara made out of coffee, lip gloss made out of carrots and coconut oil in pretty much everything.”

Avocado, lemon and grapeseed&nbsp;are just a few of the natural ingredients used in the Evelyn Iona Cosmetics line.
McCall Hatton
Avocado, lemon and grapeseed are just a few of the natural ingredients used in the Evelyn Iona Cosmetics line.

“We also have gluten-free and vegan products,” says Leifso. “Your skin is your largest organ, it absorbs 80 percent of what you put on it. So if you’re celiac, your product could be affecting you just as much as what you’re eating.”

Although Evelyn Iona’s top-selling product is the Natural and Organic Concealer, Leifso is most proud of the Gel Liner, as “it squashed the stigma around natural, organic products to stay on for long periods of time.” The longwear liner is also the product that obtained Evelyn Iona’s recognition in the New York Times and Vogue, featuring Leifso as one to watch in the industry of green beauty.

It is special moments such as these when Leifso reflects on how far she’s come, personally, as well as professionally, in the past two years of founding and developing her business.

“It was a big part of my recovery,” says Leifso. “When I look back at what I had and realize what I have now is so much better, it just makes everything worth it. No matter how bad things ever were.”

You can purchase Evelyn Iona products on their website, through Birchbox and Ipsy, or in select, boutique shops across the U.S. Once you pick your product, be sure to checkout their latest Natural and Organic Highlighter and newly launched Evelyn Iona Cosmetics beauty counter app, Map My Beauty, for iPhones, to discover your inner makeup artist and create your perfect look.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS