Keep reading for some news about Spela Cosmetics and its founder Maryam Behrouzi. She moved to Canada as a refugee, became a lawyer and now runs this incredible cosmetics brand. Wow. We are impressed. Find out more about her story below.
What inspired you to start your business?
I actually first started thinking about creating a cosmetics company when I was around fifteen years old and was very into the brand Hard Candy! I came to learn that the founder was just a young woman who had started it on her own. It made me realize that you can just be a regular person and not a cooperation to get something going. This was a creative outlet for me and when I ended up working in law and almost starting my own law firm, I discovered that it wasn’t going to align with my values. This, and inspiration from my Dad drove me to start Spela.
What’s the brand’s philosophy?
When I was young, my family moved to Canada as refugees. This has always made me understand how important values are. It’s fundamentally about the value for what you get. Spela is vegan, cruelty free, nontoxic and made in the U.S. These are the things that align with my values.
"I came to learn that the founder was just a young woman who had started it on her own. It made me realize that you can just be a regular person..."
What makes Spela different?
High quality cosmetics with a conscience. Guided by values as opposed by dollars. It’s about knowing your sources. Products should never be tested on animals ever. It’s totally wrong to test cosmetics on animals. I did not want animal products to be a part of Spela because, there is no proper sourcing as all. You have no idea where these products came from. The European Union is much more progressive. The U.S. FDA has only banned 11 products since 1923 while the EU has banned nearly 1400. We go by EU standards. Our products are manufactured within the U.S. as we value workers rights. We also create fragrance free products only. Fragrance is vague. The rules within the U.S, qualify anything to be listed as a fragrance. For us, it makes no sense and our products are stronger and cleaner without it.
How did you find out that you could actually make a product people would come to buy?
I just went for it. At the time I was a practicing attorney and while I loved cosmetics, I could find a lipstick that I liked. A bold lip is very powerful in some ways, especially in a courtroom. And whenever I did find a lipstick I liked, they weren’t clean! I couldn’t find a clean product with lasting power and a non-drying formula. I couldn’t find something that I would want to use.
"High quality cosmetics with a conscience."
What’s Spela’s customer demographic?
Women in their mid-20’s to mid-30’s. People who are further along in their careers and are generally college educated. They tend to be more aware of environmental and toxicity concerns.
For those that don’t know, could you explain the difference between vegan and cruelty free cosmetics?
Cruelty free specifically means to test on animals. You can have a product that has animal products such as, a lipstick with whale fat that hasn’t been tested on animals. Vegan is related to the actual ingredients within the product itself.
Is vegan skin care better for you overall?
I don’t think they are necessarily better. It’s such a personal choice and there are so many choices. To each their own. As long as you do your best.
What’s the one Spela product everyone needs to try?
Tinder liquid lipstick. It’s a slightly orange red. It looks good on everyone and every skin tone. It’s such a bright, fun and flattering shade. Everyone should have one bold and powerful shade.
As a vegan and cruelty free make up line. What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
The challenges are just the same as every other business. Want to put out more products but also being strapped for the capital to do so.
What’s your most popular product right now?
Our Spa Day liquid lipstick.
What advice do you have for other female-identified business owners?
Depends what position they are in. I am part of a few local non-profit organizations that bring female entrepreneurs together. It’s about having a network. A support group. Woman Led (womenled.org) and XXcelerate Fund (xxceleratedfund.com) both help build communities.
Who is inspirational to you at this time in your life?
I’m constantly inspired by other women entrepreneurs but also my Dad. He’s through and through an entrepreneur and takes opportunities that a lot of other people might not. He takes risks. My parent came to Canada with little money and didn’t speak English, they strove to build lives.