With a myriad of beauty box subscriptions flooding the market these days, it can be difficult to commit to just one. Even if we’re talking about niched subscription boxes such as cruelty-free and/or vegan beauty, there is plenty to choose from. Gone are the days when the Glossybox was the lone ruler of the monthly subscription box market.
But newcomers to the game such as Velvet Report are stepping it up by offering the perks of curated beauty boxes – minus the commitment of monthly subscriptions. The concept is easy: simply select the box that fits your particular needs and make a one-time purchase.
We caught up with Washington-based entrepreneur Lindsey Arnold, founder of Velvet Report, to chat about vegan and cruelty-free beauty, her wish to fill a void in the industry, and how she rolled with the punches when starting her glamorous venture.
A modern-day Renaissance woman, Arnold has had several careers in various industries before starting Velvet Report, including psychotherapy, engineering, and launching her own robotics company (!). After said robotics company stalled in 2016, Arnold took some time to reflect on her next steps – thus realising that she wanted to start a vegan beauty business. She believes that beauty products should be luxurious – don’t we all – but found it difficult to find items that met her criteria of being cruelty-free, vegan, and non-toxic.
She says, “I wanted to build a vegan company to spread a message of compassion and help people to easily make more conscious choices about their beauty products. Personally, I found it hard to find things that meet all of those criteria. Green beauty is a huge trend right now, but it’s not all necessarily vegan. You can go on various sites and you find lists – and it’s cruelty free. But you don’t know if it’s vegan or non-toxic. I wanted to create a place where everything is all three and no one has to worry or do the research themselves.”
Patrons of Velvet Report can rest assured that all of the products featured on the site are vegan, cruelty-free, palm oil free, contain no petroleum derivatives, and are ethically sourced. Arnold personally researches her entire supply chain from top to bottom to ensure her customers of complete transparency.
With the launch of two beauty boxes, a makeup starter kit and a rose vegan beauty set, Arnold has already splintered off into launching her own beauty line to offer products that she feels are missing in the market.
“I’m trying to select things to fill a gap. For example, I really liked the Bioderma Micellar water, but they’re not a cruelty free company. So, I worked with a lab to make my own. I’ve really been into sheet masks lately. It’s such cool technology, but it’s hard to know if they’re vegan since they’re mostly coming from Korea. So, the dry mask that I sell is all plant based. It has different natural plant ingredients and you put it on and massage it on your face and it makes your skin so hydrated and glowing. I’ve answered the door in them before. I just like knowing that it actually has good ingredients and hydrates your skin. And a dry mask is nice because there’s nothing dripping down your face. I’d like to expand this line…I’m trying to give the experience of luxury beauty and help people feel like they’re not making a sacrifice.”
With a little over year at the helm of Velvet Report under her belt, Arnold looks to the vegan community for inspiration and direction as she sails ahead. She asks Facebook groups and Instagram followers about the brands they like, the content they’d rather see (blog posts vs YouTube vlogs, etc) and makes judgment calls based on that info. Perhaps a little bit of her science background shines through in this regard, with her drive to collect data from potential consumers and apply it to her business. Her past experience in startups has certainly helped her prepare for unforeseen obstacles and just generally navigating a new venture.
“I do think I’ve learned a lot from my robotics business in starting something and building it and prototyping and getting feedback and failing and starting up again. So, it taught me to just go for it and try something. And if it doesn’t work you can pivot and change it.”
For example, she quips, “I did a craft show in the summer and it was bad – don’t show up at the craft show with a curated box of other brands’ products! It doesn’t go well! But you’ve got to keep going on when you have a purpose.”
For now, Arnold is content with communicating with this community to try to get a better understanding of what people need or are looking for in this particular space. She hoping to expand into retail to fill gaps there, and hopes to expand her line of beauty products.
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All photos by Karya Schanilec