It seems that everyone is talking about "Mineral Cosmetics" today. This is what your company, Monave, specializes in. Please tell us about them and how they compare to the usual cosmetics out there.
Mineral Cosmetics originated as Loose Mineral Cosmetics. It was discovered in the late seventies that the pigments that were added to cosmetics to create color, were actually able to perform on their own as a cosmetic. The majority of cosmetic pigments are mineral based and are inorganic and inert, which means that they cause almost no allergic reactions. In sum, loose mineral makeup is literally "pure color".
The whole point of mineral cosmetics is that there are no oils, waxes, fillers, gums, etc, to affect the skin, and because the cosmetics are loose and dry, there are no preservatives. This all makes for a very healthy cosmetic, but the best part about it is that the minerals make one's face look absolutely divine. After all, makeup is about beauty. There is an instant transformation, a youthful "glow", so to speak, that traditional cosmetics just don't provide.
What's troubling for the "all natural" customer, as opposed to the salon customers who have been the exclusive consumers of mineral makeup until recently, is that not all mineral makeup is "natural". Many lines carry bismuth oxychloride, which is an irritant, and carmine, which is an insect extract. Some of the pressed mineral cosmetics even have preservatives, yet they are touted as natural. The word natural gets thrown about quite a bit, as we all know! Despite this, mineral makeup is a great improvement over traditional cosmetics.
So for those who avoid makeup because of questionable ingredients, or for women who are just dissatisfied with the performance or look of their makeup, mineral makeup is a more comfortable place to call home.
You also sell many different shades and types of bulk pigments. Who buys these from you, and for what purpose?
I think people are born teachers. Perhaps there is a gene. I was a teacher for many years, and I guess I can't shake it, because somehow I've built this whole subsection within my company that teaches others how to use pigments to make mineral cosmetics. Every new arm of Monave has grown because someone has asked for it, so out of the blue a few years ago, a woman e-mailed me and said that she had been trying to formulate mineral foundation for two years and couldn't quite figure it out. Of course I couldn't resist helping her. Now I sell all of the base oxides, fillers, and micas on my website for those trying to make their own cosmetics as well as handcrafters looking for colorants.
What makes my pigments different from the ones found on other sites is that I'm very picky about what I'll sell. I don't sell any micas coated with carmine or dyes. Most sites that sell mica and oxides sell products because of how they look , and how they perform in a soap process, but I'm also concerned with the overall effect of the ingredients. I want my customers to feel that I'm a supplier that they can trust.
There are so many handcrafters at all levels today that are seeking out natural ingredients to make their products with. You even sell different kits for them on your web site. Please tell us more about them.
The kits are fun. Really, really fun. I can't tell you how many women call me and tell me stories about how the kits have helped them through a lonely period, or that their daughters had cosmetic-making parties with their friends. Lots of customers are trading and swapping their wonderful creations on the internet, and making new friends through their shared interest.
The kits bring out our natural creativity that often doesn't have an outlet. It's akin to cooking, but you wear the finished product!!
The most popular kit is the color cosmetics kit, which features pure mica pigments. The manual has formulas and suggestions for blending colors together to create wearable cosmetics like blush and eye shadow. Because the finished products are pure mica, they can be used as liquid liners, nail polish, you name it! Mica pigments are so beautiful. They have a similar effect to aromatherapy in that they have mood altering effects. We have small, affordable hobbyist kits, and larger kits that can be used to launch a new line. The mineral foundation kits are more challenging, because it's hard to match skin tone. But women that find themselves mixing all kinds of cosmetics together to create the right shade for their skin (especially ethnic women) jump at the chance to try to customize their own shades. Most professional handcrafters end up buying bulk foundation from Monave after trying to make their own. The lip kits are new, and are really about having a bit of fun, and playing with color.
Monave is really a one-stop-shopping experience for anyone interested in mineral cosmetics. Your customers are lucky enough to be able to buy everything from empty jars and labels, to the raw pigment powders themselves, and many beautiful shades of pre-mixed and packaged products in between. What was your inspiration for putting together this complete mineral cosmetic concept?
The inspiration for everything on my site comes from my customers. When I was first starting out, with one kiosk, I was catapulted into manufacturing by the gaps in the mineral cosmetics that were available for wholesale at the time. What my customers wanted didn't exist, so I had to create it myself. Monave is still creating, searching, and growing in response to customer demand. At times, I have to draw the line, for example, I don't sell luxury packaging, but I guess it's just good business sense that I don't want my customers to have to shop elsewhere if I can make something available to them on my site. But again, the vision is for the products and formulas to be as natural as possible.
If that isn't enough, you also sell a complete line of skincare products. Please tell us about your products and the guidelines you adhere to when manufacturing them.
About two years ago, I tried to find skincare products that fit my definition of "natural", to sell at my store, but couldn't. I was especially interested in facial care that was made completely without synthetics, but because I couldn't find any to purchase, I ended up having to make it myself! I was on light duty at my store because of the birth of my second child, and during that time did hours and hours of research and formulating. I had to carve out a day a week to cook up my lotions, creams, toners, and body butters. Then one day I discovered through the internet, an aromatherapist and soapmaker in my neighborhood (talk about fate!), who had the same philosophy that I did. Sharon Kinnier and I have been partners ever since, and she now manufactures all of my creams and lotions (phew).
She uses only cold-pressed oils and butters, organic hydrosols, naturally bleached waxes, and essential oils. THAT'S IT! The concept is that the ingredients should be chemically "whole", as opposed to "derivatives of". We are both deeply dedicated to and awed by the healing and energizing properties of plants, and try to create products that don't tamper with these qualities. Sharon is an amazingly intelligent woman, and she doesn't take essential oils lightly. She knows the proper percentages of oils to add to products, and formulates based on hours of research and a good dose of caution. I can honestly say that I've seen women come into our store whom I literally didn't recognize because of the tremendous healing that had occurred after using some of Sharon's products. I can only feel blessed to be associated with her.
How did you get interested in the field of 'all natural' beauty?
I believe that my interest in the field of "all-natural beauty" grew out of an innate love for beauty, color, and form, combined with a keen awareness imbued in me by my father, of the rapid and frightening effects of the technological and scientific "advances" of the twentieth century. I think that there are those of us who feel somehow "connected" to things that have grown out of the earth, things that occur apart from the hand of humankind. We turn off the TV to listen to the sound of rain, and we can't resist smelling every blossom that hangs over a wall. We cry inside when we hear children cry, and we feel helpless when we read about the devastation of the rainforest, or yet another FDA approved chemical that is now discovered to cause sickness or worse.
We know who we are, and we form communities with others like ourselves. My life is being directed, and I am being led. My interest in all-natural beauty is a reflection of my soul.
What do you see for the future of 'all natural' beauty?
I can't really answer that question. The future is a bit scary to me. I would like to think that "all-natural" beauty could someday be more accessible, more affordable. There are many women that need to spend $3.00 on a bottle of shampoo. It's a trend in today's market, but that often means that "natural" gets diluted and manipulated. We can only hope for the best, and stay true to our instincts.