EMILY SHARES WITH US HER STORY BEHIND CREATING THE SLEEK, VEGAN-FRIENDLY BRAND CONCRETE MINERALS
Tell us about your brand’s backstory
I began Concrete Minerals a decade ago now, back in 2009.
After working in different areas of the music industry for several years (primarily with heavy metal bands), I eventually found myself working with a fairly large mineral cosmetics brand. I was already passionate about cruelty-free products, but here I fell in love with the idea of cosmetics that were better for your skin. I gained some perspective into just how many beauty products an average woman was using daily, things that could potentially be absorbed into our bloodstreams via topical application (some ingredients, like talc, in ways that we had only just begun to un-pack). But most importantly to the creation of CM, it was here that I discovered that there was nothing fundamentally pertinent to the formulation of mineral makeup that couldn’t allow for exciting, fun things like electric blue eyeshadow and deep smokey purple duochromes… it just hadn’t been done before.
Given my unique work history (and a penchant for concerts and the fierce looks that girls brought to those), I knew in my heart that there was a rapidly-growing group of people looking for a MAC, or an Urban Decay, built on a healthier base, with ethics that they could get behind (never dismiss a girl in combat boots… I guarantee she knows what she’s about, and what she’s looking for in a product!).
So I began working on Concrete Minerals. The name said it all — “concrete” was a gut-punch to the makeup norm, and probably a subliminal reference to the band Pantera knowing me (fun fact: a lot of my music history is wrapped-up in our product names!) I started the brand in my kitchen, with a $500 loan (I was that broke!).
I had just recently been laid-off from another job and thought “If I’m going to keep suffering, keep falling on my face, I might as well do it for myself. On my terms.” After months of product research, I developed the original line myself, as well as our original, absolutely killer, Electric Eye Primer formula which has gone on to win several awards.
We launched on Etsy where we found a wonderful fanbase and support system (some of whom I’ve remained friends with to this day!) Eventually we launched our own website, moved into a great office space with a little in-house lab built into it, hired more and more people… it’s really snowballed ever since.
We’ve now shipped tens of thousands of orders to every major country in the world and saw more than 200% growth last year alone!
What is your brand best known for?
Unique, super-pigmented eyeshadows and our commitment to not only cruelty-free and vegan products, but to excluding unnecessary or even potentially toxic ingredients in our formulations.
What inspires you?
People making the hard calls to live their lives ethically and honestly, especially when no one’s looking. I think that’s at the root of a lot of what I try to do. Never in seeking perfection, but an attempt to be just a little bit better than I was before.
Seeing brands like Kat Von D Beauty thriving today is beautiful, as is the indie beauty space, which has really embraced so many smaller brands and given them the room to grow. I’m also a total sucker for product packaging and design!
I’m known for inappropriately massaging various cartons and boxes to determine the stock or printing finishes used. I’m a real treat to be with at a Sephora, lol!
What are your 3 favourite products that you’ve created, and why?
I debate this constantly. Over the years we’ve produced more a hundred different eyeshadows, and I find myself falling in love with new ones all the time! I can’t stop looking at Bitches Brew, an electric lavender with an orange duochrome. I think I’m the most proud however of our red eyeshadows, like Risque and Hearts. It can be pretty tough to formulate a great vegan red, and we’ve done it time and time again.
What are your 3 best sellers?
Our Electric Eye Primer is our biggest seller of all-time! It’s become a staple for a lot of girls over the years, and I’m so appreciative of that. Next to that, our Black Magic and Redrum collections, easily. Both sets feature some of the shades we’re best known for, they’re a great intro to the brand.
Favourite part of your job?
Hearing from fans that our products have brought some happiness into their life.
I had one customer write in; she mentioned that her mom had passed away at an early age, and growing-up in a family of boys, she never had a particular attraction to makeup. After discovering CM, she felt for what we stood for and she was attracted to our story. She decided to try some makeup, and wrote that for the first time in her life, she felt beautiful, she felt feminine, but that most of all, she felt included — I just fell apart reading that.
I mean, it’s makeup, we’re not curing diseases here, so it hadn’t necessarily crossed my mind earlier on that these products might have any sort of significant impact on people’s lives.
Yet here we are, 10 years later, and we constantly hear from fans across the world that they’ve used our products in significant events in their lives, or that just getting a package from us in the mail brightened-up an awful day. I don’t know how to put that feeling into words, but it’s certainly the best part of the job.
How do you want you/your brand to be remembered?
I’d love it if Concrete Minerals were remembered as having had a significant role in helping the indie beauty movement really establish itself! I truly believe that this incredible community of indie brands has really cemented that women and men today expect more out of the beauty products that they use and love.
AND NOW, THE FUN BITS…
What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Lots of fresh fruits and veggies (including blackberries, strawberries and artichokes, which I’m obsessed with currently), GT’s kombucha, and these incredible dairy-free lemon bars that I baked yesterday from lemons that friends picked from their tree the other day!
If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
Probably a cross between Finn and Marceline from Adventure Time.
What is your favourite thing to spend money on?
Food. Always. Sharing meals with friends is my absolute favorite hobby and I will always happily spend money on it.
Finally, and this one is important, so please pay attention. What do you think cats dream about?
I have a giant Maine Coon named Tyrion who sleeps curled-up with me at night, so this is a question of particular interest to me. I’m willing to bet he dreams of catching birds most nights, there’s been an ongoing battle for the past few months.
Code expires 11.59PM AEST Wednesday April 10th 2019.
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