(Disclaimer: long intro about how CLOVE + HALLOW came to be is ahead. To skip to the pictures and swatches, just scroll down. Okay? Okay. Let’s go.)
Despite always having an affinity for makeup, it was until college that I first discovered a lipstick I actually liked to wear. Up until that point, I stuck to clear lipgloss (or, if we’re going way back, Smackers lip balm that smelled so good I wanted to eat it) and only bought lipstick when I was pressured into it by a very beautiful saleslady at Sephora. But once I found a lipstick line I really loved – I think it was Bobbi Brown – my distaste quickly flip-flopped and I became, to put it mildly, obsessed.
When I started transitioning over to a clean beauty products in 2014 thanks to a mental health episode that forced me to take a harder look at what I was putting on and in my body, I thought it would be fairly easy to find lipsticks I loved. I was wrong. All of the natural lipsticks I tried felt better on my conscience but either lacked the pigmentation I was used to with my MAC, Bobbi Brown and NARS lipsticks, dried out my lips, or were so prohibitively priced that I figured they must have actual gold flecks in the formula for justification.
It was then that I first had an idea for a clean cosmetics line that didn’t skimp on texture, payoff, wear-time, or shade range (both in diversity and vibrancy) AND didn’t give me sticker shock, but I didn’t focus on it as I was really happy with my career as a makeup artist and lash extension stylist. It wasn’t until I realized there were very few clean products across any category that were up to my professional standards that I really put stock into the idea and wrote up a business plan for CLOVE + HALLOW. Within a year, I had quit my job, sourced suppliers, vetted manufacturers, and procured packaging and design vendors to get the ball rolling, and we were well on our way. Our first product? Lip Crème, of course, because an obsession like mine never truly disappears 😉
(Note: We use a manufacturer rather than formulating in-house because my vision was (and is) to eventually work with a major retailer that will require us to scale big, and having a legitimate facility to produce products is necessary at that level. Plus, what the hell do I know about formulating?? Nada. It made sense for us.)
The R&D process was thrilling but long-winded; the CLOVE + HALLOW “team” that I always referred to on social media was really just me, and I knew nothing about any of what I’d gotten myself into so things were really inefficient. Still, testing products as part of my job was a dream come true. Some Lip Crème samples were too waxy and dry, others were so soft and creamy that they were thick and difficult to work with, and a few in between were too sheer. But as we made our way through round after round of formulations, I stuck to a simple bottom line: I want a lipstick that is creamy, nourishing, pigmented, and fades off my lips evenly throughout the day.
I remember the day I received the sample with our current formulation in the mail like it was yesterday. It had been almost a year of working with the base formula and I had a good feeling about this round, so when I saw the envelope hanging out of my mailbox I couldn’t wait to dig in. It was perfection and I immediately cried (and then emailed my chemist to tell her I was so happy I was crying…she probably thought I was insane.)
And then came the REALLY fun part – shade matching! Part of what bothered me about other lines I tried was a lackluster shade range; everything was neutral and earth-toned and there wasn’t much available for those of us who like more bold colors. This is partially because a lot of brands are dye-free and iron oxides are naturally muddier and produce earthier shades, but I also think there just wasn’t much demand at the time for boldness in green beauty – a LOT has changed over three years! I was really picky about the first 9 shades – while most shades will work for most people, I wanted to develop at least one nude, neutral, and bold shade for light, medium, and dark skintones – and actually developed many more shades that didn’t end up making the launch cut for various reasons.
(Note 2: we *do* use dyes in our lip products. We use them in such small quantities as a supplement to iron oxides that, to me, it was worth the tradeoff for truly vibrant and bold shades. There will be people who disagree with that choice, and that is just fine – there are plenty of “purer” lines out there. Our goal was simply to produce safe products that really work with transparent ingredient lists and marketing claims. For more info, see the CLOVE + HALLOW FAQ.)
Around this time I decided I also wanted to do lip gloss, so we simultaneously started this whole process over for our Lip Glaze. Again, I wanted something creamy, nourishing, pigmented, and most importantly, non-sticky (I *loathed* gloss most of my life because it got stuck in my hair.) This development process was a bit easier as I had more experience with R&D and the first sample I was sent wasn’t far off the mark from what I was looking for. Within a few months we had shades matched and were ready to begin production.
From there, it was all rainbows and butterflies. (Just kidding, it’s been really really hard and really really fun and rewarding, but I’ll save all that for another blog post.) I honestly debated when I started this post on whether or not I should go into this level of depth, but considering how many questions I field from friends/family/followers regarding the process and how the line came to be, I felt it was an appropriately long-winded intro to showing off our current lippie collection.
Also, before I get to the good stuff in just a second, I do want to shamelessly mention that these CLOVE + HALLOW products have garnered incredible press, including a Women’s Health Magazine Beauty Award and Essence Magazine Best in Black Beauty Award. *I* knew they were the real deal the second I signed my approval on the R&D slip, but it is so humbling and gratifying to know that the powers-that-be agree. And shameless plug round 2: if you sign up for our email list you will receive a discount code you can use on your purchase and orders over $50 qualify for free shipping 😉
This is just the beginning y’all…we have a TON of amazing products lined up for 2017, our goal being that by early 2018 we have a fully-functional, standalone cosmetics line that that people can rely on for all of their makeup needs, with bonus points for being clean, cruelty-free and vegan!
Now, without further ado….TA DA!
Honest to God y’all, I would NEVER put my name on something that I didn’t 100% believe in or stand behind. These products are everything I hoped they would be (and more), and I’m just so thrilled to have had the opportunity to bring them to market. Who’s excited for the rest of our launches? Let me know in the comments below what kind of product you’re hoping to see from us!