I have another insightful and inspiring special guest on the blog today that I’m super excited to introduce you to – Sarah Biggers-Stewart the CEO & founder of CLOVE + HALLOW. If you’re new to them, C + H is a conscious, or “conscientious” as Sarah differentiates later on, beauty brand offering vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare. After a debilitating illness once sidelined her career as a professional makeup artist, Sarah was driven to create beauty products that are not only good for you but are available at a fairly affordable price. (A concealer will run you $20.00; a lipstick $23.00, for reference.) Every product on their roster contains 15 strictly-tested ingredients or less, so there’s no trade-off between color or quality and piece-of-mind. If you’re interested, you can read up on their Clean15™ formulation strategy here.
What makes C + H stand out to me in a sea of clean beauty brands – and why I’ve wanted to feature them on here for years now – is their refreshing and realistic POV on the whole natural vs. synthetic debate that has gone on in the clean beauty space for years now. Not all natural ingredients are “good” and not all synthetic or chemical ingredients are “bad.” More brands need to be this transparent and no-nonsense, in my opinion.
Without further delay, let’s get into the Q&A with Sarah!
RELATED CLOVE + HALLOW POSTS
TELL US HOW GETTING SICK EARLY IN YOUR CAREER INSPIRED THE BIRTH OF CLOVE + HALLOW?
Getting swept off my feet with a sudden mystery illness despite being so young and overall healthy was a pivotal moment in my life. It forced me to become hyper aware of my health, and also the value of my time. When I got better, I was so motivated to spend my days working on projects that I was passionate about – which, at the time, mostly revolved around makeup and skincare. When I first thought of the concept behind CLOVE + HALLOW, it wasn’t even a question of whether or not I’d go after it with everything I had; after being so sick for so long, I didn’t waste a minute getting started.
DESCRIBE YOUR BRAND TO US IN ONE SENTENCE.
I could describe the brand with a long run-on sentence to cram in all of our major differentiators, but I’ll keep it simple: we’re Beauty Without Sacrifice in every sense of the phrase.
HAVE YOU CREATED YOUR DREAM PRODUCT YET? IF NOT, CAN YOU GIVE US A HINT?
Each product I launch feels like a dream, so in many ways, yes! However, I think my dream product is The Everything Oil. It has completely transformed my skin and the skin of so many of our customers. The before & after photos we’re receiving are mind-blowing! It gives me the warm and fuzzies to know that we’re helping our customers feel better in their own skin.
TELL US WHY WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT SHOPPING CLEAN BEAUTY, AND WHAT “CLEAN” MEANS TO YOU.
You know, I’ve really been leaning towards using the word “conscientious” beauty over “clean” beauty lately because I feel like the term clean has been twisted to fear-monger within our industry. It’s a shame. I also like conscientious because it encompasses what I loved about clean beauty – the ethics, the research and safety, the thoughtfulness – and takes it a step further by looping in shade ranges, packaging choices, marketing verbiage, etc. Those are all the reasons I think people should be shopping with us conscientious indie brands: we make all of our choices through the lens of our customers being our friends and community, rather than anonymous data points.
ANNIE JACKSON, THE FOUNDER & C.O.O. OF CREDO BEAUTY, SAID IN AN ARTICLE ON GLOSSY THIS YEAR THAT CLEAN BEAUTY IS “TOO WHITE” AND WITHOUT ENOUGH DIVERSITY OF SHADE RANGES. DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE? WHERE DO YOU FEEL C+H STANDS IN REGARDS TO THIS ISSUE?
I absolutely agree. In terms of shade range, I remember CLOVE + HALLOW made a big splash when we initially launched. Although we had only a modest number of shades, our range had notable depth across the spectrum rather than 10 shades of beige clustered in the middle. I was very intentional about it. That being said, I am painfully self-aware and know that we are still missing the mark with our shade ranges. It drives me mad, especially because we’ve had shade expansions locked down for years that we haven’t been able to release yet. Honestly though, the whiteness of clean beauty goes well beyond obvious shade range flaws. The tokenism of POC in advertising; the creation of products and shades without getting feedback from POC; the lack of diversity in leadership teams; the exclusive pricing and distribution models of clean beauty brands; combined, these factors totally white-wash our industry and make it inaccessible to the average consumer. CLOVE + HALLOW is far from perfect, but I do feel like those are areas in which we have always stood out from the pack.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR C+H THAT HAS YOU REALLY EXCITED?
There’s so much! COVID-19 has obviously been a challenge to navigate, but in some ways it has been a blessing in disguise. We’ve got a really strong game plan for digital e-commerce pulled together, and that excites me a lot. We have some great retail partnerships that are delayed due to COVID but ultimately still on track. I’m most excited by the fact that our product pipeline is full with amazing expansions and launches, all of which have a sustainability story. That’s something that wasn’t readily available to me years ago when I first launched.
I HAVE TO ASK – WHAT DOES YOUR EVERYDAY BEAUTY ROUTINE LOOK LIKE??
Very simple. I don’t have time to experiment the way that I used to! I have a minimal but effective skincare routine built around The Everything Oil, which is my personal hero product. After prepping the skin, I always apply a facial SPF and then go in with Conceal + Correct, Hydratint, FlexLash, and a shimmery shadow from Sunrise Pressed Pigment Palette. If I want a more complete look, I’ll use Liquid Skin Tint before I apply concealer and may spice it up with a chunky winged eyeliner. With this routine I can look like a non-zombie human being in under 5-10 minutes, and that’s all that I need nowadays!
You can shop all things Clove + Hallow here!
xo, and be well, Erica