Subscription boxes arrived on the beauty scene approximately a decade ago, luring in consumers worldwide with the appeal of a monthly delivery of secret goodies – you’d only know what was in your box once you opened it, and the excitement was a big part of this new kind of shopping for beauty products. At the dawn of the subscription boxes, the products featured were from mainstream beauty brands, without much thought to ethics or sustainability. When I first started transitioning to cruelty-free and vegan beauty, it was with sadness that I said goodbye to my Glossybox subscription. But times have changed. Glossybox and other mainstream subscription services have since then released vegan editions – and the reason for that is the stratospheric rise of the vegan beauty trend – Grand View Research reported in 2018 that the global vegan cosmetics market is predicted to reach $20.8 billion by 2025 — a compound annual growth rate of 6.3%.
This increase is is without a doubt due to pioneering brands like Petit Vour, the beauty box-based brand that brought the joy of the subscription box to the new market of conscious, cruelty-free consumers. Since its 2012 launch, the brand has grown beyond its subscription service offering “la creme de la cruelty-free” to its subscribers, and expanded into an online beauty and fashion boutique, carrying brands such as Angela Roi, Pacifica and Dauntless. Now, the brand is launching its first equity raise, offering opportunities to invest in their ethical business.
Petit Vour was launched by Madeline Alcott and Ryan Miner, who realised that beauty subscription boxes were a winning idea – but that the market at the time had very little to offer the budding vegan consumer base. They came up with a highly curated, stylish offering of varied, highly effective and diverse products that reflected the conscious values of contemporary consumers, which led them to become the largest and fastest-growing retailer in the category.
We chatted to Madeline about the rise of cruelty-free beauty and her journey as an entrepreneur.
Tell us about your journey with cruelty-free and vegan beauty. When did you first become interested in this topic?
The seed was planted long ago when my brother came home from college and handed me a Leaping Bunny Shopping Guide. Although I was pretty young, the conversation did get me thinking about what I was choosing to support every time I went out and bought beauty products. Over the years, the passion grew deep and I became more determined to shape myself into someone who gave a damn. After college, I started organising my discoveries which unknowingly provided me with a unique list of trusted and tested brands we’d later reveal with the launch of the first vegan beauty box, our very own Petit Vour!
What was your vision for Petit Vour when you first launched it and do you feel that you have realised your vision?
Petit Vour is at an exciting time, where we’re just now realising much of what we envisioned years ago. Of course, we started out to showcase the absolute best of clean, vegan beauty, and we’ve done a great job of that over the years, while also improving and expanding our product selection. But we had to suppress, or at least learn to be patient with, some of our deeper goals: namely, making a BIG impact in inspiring mainstream women to view their beauty with a cruelty-free mindset. With the completion of our Wefunder equity raise, we’ll be launching a new phase of Petit Vour that is going to get us closer to that vision than ever before. I can’t share details on our upcoming campaign–the plans are under wraps for the next few months–but we’re so excited for what’s just around the corner.
What is the criteria that you use to select the brands you feature?
Aside from not testing the product or ingredients on animals, we want to be sure that the brand offers something unique and exciting for our customers. We test products for weeks on end, to measure how products interact with our differing needs. We inspect ingredients to make sure they meet our standard in every way (not just being safe, but feeling and smelling how we want as well). If we’re not convinced the brand will be a success with our audience, we make tweaks until it’s the right fit.
From a business perspective, could you tell us more about your journey from a small startup to your first equity raise? What have been your greatest obstacles and how have you overcome them?
We were fortunate to have organic growth early on, thanks to our unique offering and workhorse mentality, but I think what truly allowed us to get to our first equity raise is the fact that we’ve positioned ourselves to cater to a fairly wide audience even though our ethical standard is incredibly narrow. Our dream is to shift mainstream thought from seeing cruelty-free as fringe and subpar to believing that the best can only be when it’s cruelty-free.
What have been your biggest victories as an entrepreneur?
Having a successful WeFunder campaign has been our biggest victory to date. That said, we hope there are some bigger victories right around the corner. It’s going to allow us to put some powerful innovations and practices to use, furthering our growth, and bettering our position to influence the beauty industry standard. We’re beyond thrilled with what this means and what we’ll be able to accomplish.
How do you see the market for vegan businesses evolving?
Mainstream retailers such as Lulu’s, Free People, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus are all capitalising on the growing demand for clean, vegan products. Because of this, there’s increased competition with brands and retailers alike. It’s more important than ever that we differentiate ourselves in a dramatic way and provide something so unique it can’t be easily duplicated in the way that product selection so often is. We want the future of vegan retail to be led by vegans, not mainstream retailers looking to increase their bottom line.