Oh, we’ve got something special for you today!
Scroll down to read an interview with one of the founders of Stowaway Cosmetics, Julie Fredrickson, whose mission is to make modern women’s lives easier. She and co-founder Chelsa Crowley produce EU-compliant cosmetics in minimalist packaging and portable sizes—”because you’re busy, and doing big things,” and if you’re on the move, why shouldn’t your beauty products be right there with you?
Speaking of which, don’t miss Stowaway’s gallery of “women who rock”: business owners, activists, designers, athletes, entrepreneurs, actors, travelers, mothers, artists, and more.
Want to join them? Click on the link below by Monday, June 8th to enter to win a Stowaway Kit and nab some free lipstick. The best part: everything is perfectly sized for your summer travels. Pretty good, right?
Enter to win here!
What was the inspiration to start Stowaway? I imagine this story always beginning with “it was a dark and stormy night…” — how wrong am I? Was it difficult/easy/terrifying leaving whatever you were doing before?
It was almost the opposite of a dark and stormy night! Stowaway was born on a cold sunny winter morning over brunch. Because what force is more powerful in the universe than two girlfriends fortified with too many cups of coffee, right?
We set out to make our lives and the lives of women just like us easier. Stowaway came about after that fateful brunch when we both found ourselves complaining about the beauty industry not providing what we like to refer as “right-sized” products. We kept asking why was it so hard to find makeup we loved in sizes we could carry and actually finish.
Starting anything new is always a little scary but it is made a lot easier when you are doing it with a good friend.
It sounds like your expertise was in the branding and marketing side of things — how did you learn about the actual chemistry of makeup? That seems daunting.
Chelsa and I together combine both the direct-to-customer retail and beauty experience that was needed to bring our vision to life. Julie’s background is in e-commerce both as an entrepreneur (she sold her first company to the folks behind shopping search engine Shopstyle) and a brand marketer at big specialty retailers like Ann Taylor. Chelsa on the other hand comes a creative background in beauty and fashion having worked at brands like Clinique, Bobbi Brown, and Calvin Klein.
We were very particular about not only our formulations but our packaging as well. So it was a little daunting to set out manufacturing our ideal product. We toured a lot of facilities and different manufacturers. We were on the road a lot for the first few months. For us it was really a mix of finding someone that understood our wider business goals and was flexible about working outside the norms of the wholesale product sales cycle (aka we wanted to go a lot faster than your typical brand). We were lucky that our manufacturer has dual capabilities in product and formulations so we were able to rely on the expertise of very different kinds of specialists in one house.
In terms of what kind of ingredients go into your products, what sets you apart from other brands?
For us, what really sets us apart is our focus on products you will actually finish before they expire. We are EU-compliant which means safety is a huge focus as well. We never include ingredients that are considered unsafe in the EU like parabens or phthalates.
When it comes to ingredients everything was guided by our focus on simplicity. A lot of brands add in ingredients that only function as marketing stories when in reality their ultimate chemical composition in the final formulation is minute. We made a deliberate choice to avoid that emphasis on marketing ingredient stories. For us our focus was on simple ingredients that show immediate performance so that a woman could see it. So for instance, in the BB cream hyaluronic acid was one of the first ingredients we knew we wanted to include because it instantly plumps skin and smoothes fine lines. Julie loves it so much she actually bought the raw ingredient to use on her bare skin before she goes to bed.
Another element of the process is reverse engineering. What that means is you will take an existing formulation that has elements you wish to include in yours to your manufacturer as a starting point. Think of it as being a bit like pulling swipe for a photoshoot but in this case instead of it being a mood board it’s a texture target or a feel goal.
If you could go anywhere you wanted, where would you go and what Stowaway products would you take with you?
Oh man, this is a tough one! Chelsa is quite the world traveler having been to Tokyo, Iceland, and South Africa in just the last year. She never goes anywhere without the Creaseless Concealer as it is such a versatile product. Chelsa would really like to visit Seoul — South Korean beauty is really exciting right now. The cosmetic innovations that are happening there would make for a terrific work exploration trip. But if it were for purely pleasure Spain is on Chelsa’s radar (a scarlet lipstick seems like a great color for dancing the night away in Sevilla, right?). As for Julie she hasn’t been home to Colorado. There is nothing quite like disappearing into the backcountry for a week. She would probably take her BB cream with her as it doubles as a moisturizer. She and her fiancé are also planning a trip to Las Vegas (who knows, they might even elope) and that would require the full Stowaway kit with all of our lipsticks.
Have you considered having “look” tutorials on your site? (I’m still trying to learn how to put on eyeliner, so that would be helpful for me…)
Yes! We definitely have and it is a terrific idea! Baby steps for now, but Chelsa’s wealth of beauty knowledge should definitely make its way into videos!
What’s next for Stowaway?
We are excited to make more women’s lives easier! If we can help save even a few minutes in a woman’s day so she focuses on what is important to her, then we’ve won. We passionately believe that all cosmetics should be right-sized and we hope to push the entire industry towards products that not only fit into your life but are meant to be used and used up.