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March 8, 2018
March 8, 2018
Photo: Esteban Lopez via Unsplash

Marijuana is big business and presents endless opportunity; it no longer is a matter of if cannabis will become mainstream and what brands will capitalize on it, but when.

And there is no time like the present.

With the marijuana market projected to hit $23 billion by 2020 and $50 billion by 2026, it makes perfect sense as to why cosmetics companies are jumping on the Cannabidiol (CBD) bandwagon. The time to carve a coveted spot in the booming cannabis category is now, and one beauty brand seizing the day is Evio Beauty Group. Alongside their partner Breakwater Venture Capital, the Canadian-based beauty company is ready to destroy cannabis stigmas, educate consumers on the non-psychoactive health benefits of CBD beauty products, and transform the green beauty space by making it a little bit greener.

BeautyMatter had the opportunity to speak with Evio’s CEO and founder Brandi Leifso. Read on for our in-depth Q&A.

Why branch out into CDB? Will this be an extension of Evio Beauty or a new brand?

It’s a natural fit! Firstly, the benefits of cannabis in skincare are something to be celebrated as a great alternative to synthetics currently on the market. Second, as a brand who’s made its mark on the green space as a “scrappy beauty company with a big heart,” we could not be more aligned with the values emerging from the cannabis industry: squishing stigmas, resilience, and a dedication to female empowerment medicinally and on the corporate front.

We are excited about the opportunity to squish stigmas, and introduce the non-psychedelic benefits of cannabis to the green beauty space and consumers that don’t currently consume cannabis in the traditional way. Our focus is to provide an authentic experience from knowledgeable and trustworthy sources who are some of the best at what they do in the cannabis space. We are simply providing a tool (makeup) to view cannabis in a new light. (Similar to our mission to squish the stigma of domestic violence, by showing how a negative experience can create so much good—This is WHY we do what we Do!—Have you seen our story?)

How did Breakwater Venture Capital and Evio Beauty’s strategic and commercial relationship begin? Did you approach Breakwater with your CBD cosmetic product ideas?

Breakwater’s managing partner was an early investor in Evio with no anticipation of Evio having a cannabis-infused line. I pursued the conversation internally at Evio about using cannabis in our new skincare formulas consistently for a year. I felt very strongly about it because the cannabis space is exhibiting a lot of commonalities in values to empower others and squish stigmas. Simultaneously, it aligned with Breakwater’s portfolio to engage in a commercial relationship.

What is Evio Beauty and Breakwater VC’s strategy for redefining the relationship between the cannabis and beauty industries?

This is what makes us different from other cannabis-infused products. We’re not a cannabis company, nor are we reinventing the beauty wheel with beauty. Instead, we are focusing on the relationship between the two. We have found like-minded companies who are experts on cannabis, and are leveraging makeup as a new tool to reach non-conventional cannabis consumers. We’ve partnered with reputable cannabis-licensed producers so that we can authentically support each other and our consumers with appropriate education through the transition of immersing cannabis as a new natural ingredient to green beauty.

Something that fascinates me about cannabis is that it helps women get into an underrepresented market—the stock market. Cannabis is hot in the stock market right now, and we can trade our ingredients on the stock market. That isn’t available in quite the same way with other ingredients used in green beauty or even the green beauty market in general. It’s a pretty cool new opportunity.

You believe cannabis is a natural fit within the natural beauty market, but natural is a ubiquitous word of the green beauty movement that lacks a regulatory body and therefore has no enforceable definition (e.g., poppies are natural but toxic). So how do you plan on navigating the natural beauty market and promoting cannabis in a well-informed and positive light?

You’re right! Natural is still a very ubiquitous term in “green beauty.” We’re excited to see that evolve over time. Our focus is in creating conscious lifestyle products. We use “Green & Natural” loosely. Our efforts focus on being good for your skin, planet, and your community.

In the relationship of cannabis and beauty, I think it’s imporant to note that cannabis is heavily legislated. There are plenty of rules in place for cannabis growers. Cannabis is so tightly regulated that you know exactly where your product is coming from, right down to the type of soil. We can be that much more certain that our cannabis ingredient does meet our standards in the ethics of how it’s grown and tested. The care that goes into growing a single plant at these facilities is unbelievable.

It’s important to us at Evio, to build relationships with those who play a part in creating our product. I believe that if you have close relationships with each person along the way, you are in good hands, and can trust that they will ensure they handle the quality of your product the same way they handle your relationship. It’s like the saying goes, the way you do anything is the way you do everything. We are really proud of the relationships that we have with our manufacturers.

The Canadian government has committed to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis products by July 1, 2018, and nine US states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational marijuana. Once you launch and establish in the Canadian market, do you foresee moving into the US market?

Absolutely! We do a lot of business in the US, so this is a natural move for Evio.

Breakwater and Evio anticipate being at the forefront of developing skincare with the benefits of CBD. However, there are already innovative CBD-based skincare companies such as Lord Jones and CW Hemp. What will set Evio’s products apart from the others?

At Evio, we have formally partnered with an LP (to be announced soon!). We’re not coming out with our own cannabis beauty line but rather partnering up with the right people who are the forefront of the innovation. More importantly, we are focusing on emerging cannabis as “just another ingredient” in daily skincare (not medicinal, or claim-driven products). We’re simply developing a skincare line that just so happens to have cannabis in it, and because of the learning curve of this ingredient, we have partnered with some of the best experts in the world to make the transition seamless for consumers of indie, green, and eventually large-scale beauty.

And how will you and Breakwater VC commercially promote the products? Will social media be your marketing vehicle of choice?

We’ll be bringing education through our marketing campaigns to people who don’t typically consume cannabis. Evio Beauty Group has announced its content-driven platform—Evio Community—to launch on March 8th. Evio Community covers the topics of cannabis, feminism, entrepreneurship, beauty, wellness, and current events. Evio community has partnerships with cannabis-focused content sites, including, in an effort to make cannabis information more readily available to consumers.

At the moment traditional beauty channels seem to be hesitant of CBD products. Do you foresee any challenges with product distribution?

Extinguishing societal norms is tough, but we are up for the challenge with the amazing support of our partners. We’re bringing something different to a mainstream, non-cannabis–consuming market, so it’s going to come with challenges, but we are confident that it will pay off in sales growth and the satisfaction of being a part of squishing the stigma.

How will Evio Beauty ensure that the CBD used in its products is derived from sustainably managed cannabis farms? For example, a majority of Californians support the plant’s growth, but an unfortunate and overlooked reality is that many of these farms pollute the state’s fresh-water bodies.

I can’t speak to the facilities in California, but I can speak to the many facilities we’ve toured throughout Canada. They are under such stringent and environmental scrutiny and oversight. It’s like no other ingredient currently on the market in green beauty, which is part of the appeal. At these facilities, they’re taking specific and deliberate measures to ensure your shoes are clean, you have nets on your hair, shoes, and a bubble suit, before you enter a series of vaults to even get to the growing space. The air is regulated in each of the individual sectors and the water consumption is regulated. There are high environmental measures to ensure nothing is exposed outside of the controlled environment.

As a successful and progressive female entrepreneur, do you predict the merging beauty and cannabis industries will be dominated by women?

Yes, absolutely! (I hope so!) The cannabis industry is so new and it’s happening at a time in history where female empowerment is front and centre. Simultaneously, the beauty industry is changing rapidly with more female-founded companies than ever before. All of this sounds like the perfect recipe for female domination in the new canna-beauty space to me.


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