Meet Sasha, the founder of ILIA, one of my favorite clean make-up and beauty lines. I had the opportunity to meet Sasha at AILLEA and fell in love with their foundation and multi-stick blush. I love that the foundation has green tea and aloe vera, which are both crucial for a healthy complexion. See our full interview with Sasha below.
Tell me about your background, both professionally and personally.
Its feels like a long time ago now, but I have beautiful memories of growing up in Vancouver, Canada in a small cove, on the water, 30 minutes outside of the city. It truly was the great outdoors and much of those surroundings affected the way I am inspired today regarding colors, ingredients and ideas. When I was 20 I moved to London and went on to pursue a degree in Typography for 3 years. This led to an internship and eventually a job in branding.
What inspired you to get into the clean beauty industry?
After about a decade of working with various brands I ended up freelancing with Urban Decay Cosmetics on a packaging project. It was at this point that I happened to be going through the cleaning products that I used daily as well as my makeup and I realized that many of the products I was using were mostly a mix of toxic, harmful chemicals. The idea for ILIA when I wanted to recreate lip balm with a cherry tint in an organic, clean format. I downloaded a recipe and naively started figuring it out on my own.
How did you develop ILIA?
It took a lot of trial and error, a series of dead ends and then some positive leads. Many doors were slammed initially, or perhaps were just not the right fit. Being able to design the brand and packaging was the easier part, finding the right people to envision the product I had in mind was entirely different. I started learning everything and anything about natural ingredients and took a job with an aromatherapy brand called Saje Natural Wellness. It was there that I developed a greater appreciation for essential oils and cleaner ingredients. After two years of exploring, I finally had a product that I could take to market and without any experience walked into a shop in Vancouver and asked if they would be interested in trying it. It worked and that was our first account.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
First and foremost: My daughter and all of the wonders of the world. It is so easy to get caught up in some of the most menial things and even the bigger things that affect my business, but really if I remove all of that “stuff” and see how easy it is for my daughter to laugh or be happy, it helps to see how beautiful certain parts of life really are and in turns makes all the other “stuff” very much worth it.
How do you find balance between work and play?
That is a daily learning lesson… but lately I have been doing more taking the time to exercise. It balances my mind and body, which has had a huge impact on how I feel and therefore how I work; and conversely it affects how I feel at home before and after work. It is very important to set time for yourself and remember that self-care is important.
What motivates you professionally?
Primarily, my family and daughter keep me motivated. Since starting a family, there has been a huge shift in priorities and also worries. All of those worries I used to have are now more external than internal. Its great as nothing has brought more perspective to push forward than the fact that I have someone so small relying on me for many, many things – including lots of love.
How do you see ILIA growing in the future?
We are going to keep growing with new product launches of which are mapped out for the next year and will continue to dabble in some new arenas. It is truly an exciting time at ILIA as we are expanding our range and changing a few things up for a refresh.
What is your favorite part of your day-to-day routine?
Finding an overall balance in day-to-day routines is really nice. From the little wins at the office, to some time for myself (at least a couple times a week), coupled with some great laughs.
What are your favorite components of the clean beauty and wellness industries?
The constant learning and evolving that comes along with it. Formulating a product with very few synthetic components is very different then what is normally done is this industry – it was not the norm and I was told a long time ago it couldn’t be done. To see more and more brands pop up and more and more customers come onboard makes me think that clean beauty is starting to make a mark, and I believe it is here to stay!
Being that Among the Colors is largely based around food and cooking (specifically gluten, dairy and corn free), could you share one of your favorite dishes you cook at home?
One of my favorite dishes to cook is very simple. Wild cod, pan fried with a little bit of oil (although I may use butter!), salt and pepper, lots of lemon and perhaps a few capers makes for an amazingly easy dish. Coupled with some fresh rice and a side of lightly steamed broccoli drizzled with olive oil and lemon.
Could you please describe your personal style?
A bit quirky, perhaps a bit ManRepelle… but definitely more beachy since I moved to California. I like a mix of high and low and am always partial to the French brands…in particular: Madam Isabel Marant…
What does contemporary bohemian mean to you?
It means that perhaps 40 years ago we would have been living on a commune and traveling the country in a VW bus – just kidding! Although, it is definitely a modern take on having awareness on what is happening in the world, in the food we eat, in the products we purchase. It’s an openness to a change in views on what is right and what is wrong and perhaps on what it means to be free.