Welcome to All In, where we sit down with some of the most inspiring people in the wellness industry to find out how they got their start, their successes and their struggles, and their top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Next up is Melanie Cruickshank, founder of cruelty-free cosmetics company, da lish cosmetics.
The brand is beloved for its anti-oxidant rich, stunning makeup, produced with locally sourced, natural ingredients, and without phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals, GMO’s, gluten, or sulfates. Melanie talks to us about her very personal inspiration to start her company, her strong goals for keeping it natural and organic, and the best advice she’s ever received as an entrepreneur.
Can you recall the first inspiration you had to start your own business?
I suffered from horrible acne and have been on all the meds and products. It’s been a life long struggle to find products and ingredients that don’t make my face freak out. I knew from the age of 14 the power of make up and how it not only could hide my imperfections, but for the first time start to give me some confidence to not have my head down in horror of the other kids constantly making fun of me.
That feeling still sticks with me today. The power of a good lipstick and foundation is how I can face the world no matter how I’m feeling.
What were some of your early challenges with da lish cosmetics?
Packaging – and it still is. It always has to be brought in from another country. Also not really knowing who and if I’d have a client following.
What are some challenges you still face today?
Predicting the volume of products we’re going to sell so that we have enough stock at all times. Suppliers come and go so finding new ones is always a challenge.
Were you also working a full time job when you launched da lish cosmetics (as a side hustle) or did you go full-force into the new business? Would you recommend the approach you took?
I was working still full time when I launched back in 2006. I’ve only been working full time for the past six years and [the ability to do that] really depends on your financial situation. What ever you have put aside that you think you’ll need, triple it. You go through money WAY faster than you anticipate and hidden expenses will always arise.
From what we can tell, you’re the sole founder of your company. Did you make a conscious decision to go into business without a partner? If so, why, and how has the decision to go that route been both rewarding and challenging?
Technically I am the sole founder but up until 2016 I had my mother, Rosemary, as my partner. I would bounce ideas off her and she knew every aspect of the business. She was my best friend and confidante and her support was my backbone. I lost her very unexpectedly on September 25, 2016, and it’s left a huge void in going forward without her as my sounding board and being able to talk about frustrations and successes. That being said I never wanted to have a partner besides my mother and going forward it has never crossed my mind. I’ve rarely seen any partnerships work out for the long run and they can get very messy.
Did you seek outside investment and if so, how did you go about that process?
I didn’t and still haven’t at this point. Pre-selling the products has been and continues to be the way funding is collected, which is a huge help. It also lets you know that your clients and retailers are going to support the new products. Every dollar counts and it needs to be counted for.
Launching – and then running – your own business can be overwhelming. How do you stay focused and on track on a day to day basis? What are some of your top tips?
Honestly there’s so much that needs to be done that it’s not a matter of choice. In fact I’m not able to get everything done I’d like most days, as I just run out of time and steam. New clients, reorders, social media, marketing, new opportunities, expanding into different countries – it’s never ending which is how I like it.
Each day is a new day with new opportunities that are pretty exciting and love growing something I created for women who I know are looking for cleaner, performance-based products that they can depend on to give them that daily boost we all need to feel and look our best.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as it relates to running your own business?
Your business isn’t a hobby so don’t treat it like one. Meaning: have a good accountant, put systems in place so that you can track and run your business with ease and functionality. Also are you in it for the long haul? Success doesn’t happen overnight and you will do things no one will ever see or know about. Keep your pride in check. No task is below or above you.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to a woman interested in going out on her own?
Do it! Life is short and my motto is to leave no store unturned. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
About Your Company
One of the first things we learn about starting a successful business is that you have to relieve a pain point for the public. What was the problem you set out to solve with your company and how have you solved it?
Having a cleaner, performance-based product that’s priced well has always been the goal of da lish cosmetics. When natural and organic lines of makeup started coming out, they got a bad wrap for not being pigmented enough, lasting very long, having ugly packaging and being expensive. Things have come along way. If you want to have women make the important switch over to green beauty, then it needs to be better than their conventional products.
One of the trends we identified for this year in the natural beauty industry is transparency. How do you embrace that with your products, ingredients, and sourcing of your ingredients?
da lish cosmetics is an open book and our mantra is Uncomplicated Beauty: simply pretty makeup with nothing to hide. All ingredients have always been listed [on our packaging] and we provide the actual natural/organic percentage, as this is not regulated.
For 2018 none of our products will be below 90% natural/organic and fragrance free. 80% of our ingredients are locally soured. This is all part of our story and a selling feature.
What’s up next for da lish cosmetics (at least what you can tell us!)?
Super excited to be expanding our foundation/concealer colour range. Each shade we have covers up to five shades as our foundations/concealers are self adjusting. We have a few other items that will be coming too that are for your face. Follow us on Instagram @dalishcosmetics or join our newsletter to be kept in the loop!