In the world of beauty and cosmetics, LeiLani, the founder and CEO of Sweet LeiLani, has emerged as a trailblazer, revolutionizing the industry with her commitment to clean, vegan, and cruelty-free products. Leilani's journey began with a humble desire to help others, leading her to specialize in paramedical corrective makeup. From volunteering in burn units to collaborating with medical professionals, she discovered a gap in the market for safe, effective cosmetics that benefit and treat the skin. What started as a one-woman operation quickly evolved into a thriving brand, with Sweet LeiLani Cometics now making its mark in the beauty industry.
In an exclusive interview with LeiLani, Chris delved into the story behind Sweet LeiLani, exploring its history, mission, and the challenges faced along the way. LeiLani's dedication to providing better beauty options shines through as she shares her insights, highlighting the importance of clean cosmetics, sustainability, and the transformative power of her products. From navigating the retail landscape to adapting to the online realm, LeiLani's journey is a testament to perseverance and the pursuit of excellence in the beauty business.
Chris: Hi, LeiLani! How are you? Thank you for joining the call. It's a pleasure to have you here.
LeiLani: Hi, Chris! I'm doing well, thank you. It's great to be here and share my story with you.
Chris: That's wonderful to hear. I'm excited to learn more about your journey and the incredible work you've been doing with Sweet LeiLani Cometics. To start off, Can you share a brief introduction about your brand's history, mission, and values?
LeiLani: Absolutely. I never initially planned to have a company. I work in the film and TV industry, specializing in paramedical corrective makeup. It all started with my volunteer work in the burn and trauma unit, where I worked with plastic surgeons and dermatologists. They started referring people to me for help. Initially, I focused on cancer patients, assisting them with styling wigs and makeup. However, I quickly realized that the makeup I had from the film industry was not suitable for them, as it contained chemicals and was not gluten-free or vegan.
This led me to create the skincare cover, the first product in my line. I was ahead of the curve in understanding the importance of clean cosmetics, vegan and cruelty-free products, and fragrance-free formulations for the average woman. As I continued volunteering, more people were sent to me, including those who had experienced burns. This prompted me to create additional products to meet their specific needs. The two major challenges I faced were developing the product and bringing it to market. However, because it catered to a niche market, my brand has thrived and continues to exist today.
At Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics, we provide pure, potent, plant-powered complexion products that not only enhance beauty but also benefit and treat the skin. Our products are always vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and we are committed to making an environmental statement through our 100% craft packaging in soy ink. Our mission is to offer better beauty options for individuals, prioritizing their health and the health of the planet. Currently, we distribute our products in drugstores, grocery stores, and health food stores.
Chris: That's fascinating. Could you tell us about the challenges you faced when launching your brand or company, and how you overcame them?
LeiLani: To be honest, I was quite naive when I started and underestimated the challenges. I initially believed it would be easier than it turned out to be. However, I quickly realized that I needed to take a different approach. I sought out corporate accounts with grocery stores and head offices in Vancouver, physically visiting them and presenting my brand. One of the key breakthroughs was when Jimmy Patterson on Save On Foods agreed to take me on as a pilot project. They took a chance on clean cosmetics, recognizing that it was an emerging trend. This partnership turned out to be successful and helped me build a reputation.
Using that success as leverage, I approached other drugstores and gradually established a presence within the medical community, with doctors referring patients to us. One significant challenge I faced was figuring out the shelving for retail in drug and grocery stores, which was a completely new aspect of the business for me. Additionally, as a one-woman show, I constantly faced financial challenges. However, by persisting and finding innovative solutions, I overcame those hurdles.
Chris: I see. Can you tell us about your current distribution channels and which ones are working the best?
LeiLani: Currently, our most effective distribution channel is Instagram. We have not invested in paid advertising yet, but we collaborate with influencers who genuinely believe in our products and the green, non-toxic, vegan, and health-conscious movement. These influencers have become advocates for our brand, bringing credibility through their genuine experiences. Thanks to their support, we have built a strong online presence.
We are also working with the Canadian government, which recognizes businesses that have had to adapt and transition to online platforms due to the pandemic. They have provided us with grants to help develop our websites and improve our search engine optimization (SEO). Consequently, we are primarily focused on expanding our online presence and enhancing various elements related to e-commerce.
Chris: That's impressive. Can you share some information about your best-selling product and what sets it apart from the others in your product line?
LeiLani: Certainly! Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was already contemplating scaling back and focusing on what I excelled at, which is creating complexion products. These are products that not only enhance the skin's appearance but also provide treatment for various skin issues such as acne, psoriasis, and scarring. I realized that introducing lipsticks and eyeshadows was diverting my attention and affecting my cash flow. So, I made the decision to narrow down my focus.
Currently, our best-selling product is neck and neck with our sales. This product, like the rest of our line, is designed to benefit and treat the skin. What sets it apart is its effectiveness in addressing specific skin concerns while being vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. Our customers appreciate that our products are not only clean and free from harmful ingredients but also deliver visible results. By focusing on our core expertise, we have been able to meet the needs of our customers more effectively.
Chris: That's impressive. Now, could you share some information about your annual revenue and the key strategies you implement to achieve your goals?
LeiLani: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our annual revenue was around $700,000. However, the retail store closures and challenges posed by the pandemic caused our revenue to drop by approximately $200,000 over the course of two years. Despite these setbacks, my established credibility within the medical community and the growing clean cosmetics movement helped facilitate our pivot to e-commerce. We are now steadily rebuilding our revenue and working towards reaching our previous levels.
Some key strategies we implement to achieve our goals include leveraging Instagram as a powerful marketing tool. We collaborate with influencers who align with our brand values and have a genuine interest in the clean and non-toxic beauty community. This approach helps us build credibility and reach a wider audience.
Additionally, we have been working with the Canadian government, who supports businesses that have transitioned online. They have provided us with grants to improve our website and enhance our SEO efforts. We are also implementing a shade matching app on our website to assist customers in finding the right products for their skin tone. Furthermore, we are introducing loyalty and referral programs to enhance the overall customer experience and foster customer loyalty.
Chris: Customer experience is undoubtedly crucial. Now, could you share what you love most about your job and running your own business? What keeps you motivated?
LeiLani: What brings me the greatest joy in my work is the opportunity to help patients who are dealing with severe skin issues or have experienced traumatic events. It humbles me to be able to assist them in regaining their confidence through the power of makeup and skincare. Witnessing the positive impact it has on their lives keeps me motivated and inspired to continue creating products that make a difference.
Additionally, I genuinely enjoy the process of creating products. It allows me to channel my creativity and passion into tangible results. The ability to innovate and constantly strive for excellence keeps me motivated to push boundaries and develop new solutions for our customers.
Chris: That's wonderful. Lastly, what advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
LeiLani: My advice would be to focus on your strengths and expertise while being willing to learn and improve in areas that may not come naturally to you. It's crucial to have a solid understanding of your finances and where your money is allocated. Don't be afraid of failure because it is a natural part of the growth and learning process. Often, failures can open doors to better opportunities and lead to personal and professional growth. Take risks, learn from your mistakes, and don't shy away from exploring new avenues.
Chris: Thank you for sharing your valuable insights and experiences with us, LeiLani. It has been a pleasure speaking with you today.
LeiLani: Thank you, Chris. It was my pleasure to share my journey with you and your readers. I hope that my experiences can inspire and encourage others who are embarking on their own entrepreneurial endeavors.
Chris: Your story and the resilience you have shown in overcoming challenges are truly inspiring. We wish you continued success in your business and the positive impact you bring to your customers. Thank you once again for taking the time to speak with us.
LeiLani: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate your kind words and support. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my story, and I hope it resonates with those who are pursuing their dreams. I'm excited about the future of Sweet LeiLani Cometics and the positive impact we can make in the beauty industry.
Chris: We look forward to seeing your continued growth and success. Thank you, LeiLani, and best of luck with all your future endeavors.
LeiLani: Thank you, Chris. It was a pleasure. Take care and stay safe.
The interview with LeiLani, founder and CEO of Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics, showcased her journey from volunteer work to building a successful brand focused on clean, vegan, and cruelty-free cosmetics. Despite facing challenges, LeiLani's passion for helping others and her commitment to quality products have driven her success. Her advice to focus on strengths, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and take risks serves as valuable guidance for aspiring entrepreneurs.
LeiLani's journey with Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics exemplifies the power of passion and purpose in the world of business. Her commitment to clean, vegan, and cruelty-free cosmetics has not only filled a market gap but has also made a positive impact on the lives of individuals with skin issues and traumatic experiences. From humble beginnings as a volunteer, LeiLani's brand has grown to become a recognized name in the beauty industry.
Throughout her entrepreneurial journey, LeiLani's resilience and ability to adapt have been crucial. She embraced challenges head-on, sought out strategic partnerships, and leveraged the power of social media and influencer collaborations to establish a strong online presence.
By focusing on her strengths, honing her expertise, and staying true to her mission, LeiLani has built a brand that not only delivers high-quality products but also fosters a community centered around better beauty and environmental sustainability.
In conclusion, Sweet LeiLani serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, demonstrating the importance of following one's passion, embracing challenges, and creating a brand that makes a positive impact on both individuals and the planet. LeiLani's dedication to better beauty and her unwavering commitment to her customers' well-being set a remarkable example in the beauty industry and beyond.
Be sure to stay connected with the latest updates, beauty tips, and product releases by following Sweetleilani on their social media channels. Join their online community and discover the transformative power of clean cosmetics:
By following Sweet LeiLani on social media, you'll be at the forefront of the clean beauty movement and have access to exclusive content, giveaways, and special offers. Don't miss out on the opportunity to join their community of like-minded individuals passionate about better beauty practices.