With so many cosmetic lines popping up each day – particularly in the rapidly expanding green beauty market – it can be hard to keep track of who’s who and what they stand for. We thought it would be best to sit down with our founder, Sarah Biggers, to discuss how CLOVE + HALLOW started and what makes it special.
You weren’t a novice to the beauty scene when you started CLOVE + HALLOW. Tell us more about your background!
If you had asked me in college what I was going to be doing in five years, I never would have said anything related to the beauty industry. I had always been obsessed with makeup and had begun dabbling with doing makeup application on my sorority sisters, but I attended Georgia Tech – which is a renowned engineering institute – and figured I’d keep working for software companies or end up in some other tech industry. It wasn’t until I graduated and the weight of my “first job” really hit me that I decided to pursue makeup artistry. Within a few weeks I turned down my job offer, enrolled in some local makeup courses, and booked my first makeup gig. It was an eight hour unpaid shoot but I left feeling so happy that I knew I’d made the right choice; from there, I built up a great reputation as one of Atlanta’s go-to bridal and editorial makeup artists.
Tell us about the first time you thought of starting a makeup line. Why? What did you envision?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs; all of us are wired to think about building our own businesses in whatever industry we’re active in. While freelancing, I was already thinking about various ways I could shake up the beauty industry – and while I came up with some really great ideas, none of them spoke to me enough to pursue. It wasn’t until I came down with a mystery illness in late 2014 that forced me to quit working due to debilitating depression and panic attacks that I thought about my own cosmetics line. I had been sick for months and each doctor that I went to was flummoxed and sent me to another doctor who then sent me to another doctor and it just went on and on until I made my way to a naturopath. She encouraged me – ever the skeptic – to drastically reduce my chemical intake by overhauling my diet, cleaning supplies, personal care, etc. When I went to purge my makeup and skincare by trying out hundreds of clean alternatives, I couldn’t find many suitable replacements – especially for my professional makeup kit – and that’s when the light bulb went off.
What was the pivotal moment when you thought, “Okay, I have to do this?” and then actually pursued CLOVE + HALLOW?
I had drafted up a business plan for an unnamed clean cosmetics line but it was just sitting on my desk gathering dust because I was so busy running my makeup and lash extension businesses. It wasn’t until I found out that I was going to become an aunt that I really decided to go for it; the idea of kissing my nephew with toxic lipstick made me cringe and I was overwhelmed by the desire to make less toxic products for our future generations to use. A few months later – February 2016 to be exact – I incorporated to make it official and in June 2016 I took my last makeup client so I could work on CLOVE + HALLOW full-time.
CLOVE + HALLOW is a unique name. Tell us about the story behind it.
Honestly, it was a bit of a process. I was thinking about the C+H brand and what I wanted it to invoke and immediately went to a sense of natural warmth and inclusion, so I thought of clove spice and wrote it down. Then I reflected on my relationship with makeup – and most women’s relationship with makeup – and felt that it was almost ritualistic in nature. Wake up, wash my face, put on my makeup, go about my day, take off my makeup, go to sleep. Rinse and repeat. It made me think of almost a religious experience and I thought of “Hallow be Thy Name.” Smoosh them together, and voila!
Why cruelty-free and vegan?
To keep it simple and to the point: I am a huge animal lover and could never rationalize my business testing on animals or including animal byproduct ingredients in our formulas when there is simply no reason to do so. We will never engage in this kind of behavior, and if that means we will never expand into Chinese markets where animal testing is required by law, then so be it.
There are so many clean, cruelty-free and vegan cosmetic lines on the market. What makes CLOVE + HALLOW special?
I always say there are five things that make us unique, especially when you look at all five of them together and realize that no other business is doing what we’re doing:
Modern aesthetic – I wanted to create clean products that were cool and pretty enough to display on vanities.Shade range – Inclusivity is everything to CLOVE + HALLOW, so we develop our shades with feedback from testers who encompass a huge range of skintones to ensure that we have a vibrant and diverse shade range that will suit most skintones.Pigmentation – Not all women want natural coverage or sheer payoff, and some of us (aka me!) can’t get away with that look because we don’t have flawless skin. CLOVE + HALLOW products were created with boldness and pigmentation in mind.Clean15 – Cosmetic labels are so overwhelming, and unnecessarily so considering the number of ingredients included on labels in such tiny amounts that they don’t really impact the formula. We clear the confusion and keep it simple with 15 or fewer safe ingredients per base formula.Affordable price point – More than anything else, the price point is what I love about CLOVE + HALLOW. It is my belief that high quality clean cosmetics should not be a luxury reserved for an elite few, but available to anyone who is looking to make healthier choices.
If there was one thing you could explain to potential customers that is difficult to get across on a website, what would it be?
When transitioning to clean beauty products, I was so annoyed by brands and businesses that misled consumers with scammy greenwashed marketing tactics. All I wanted was to find a cosmetics line at my local (non-luxury) store that was straightforward and not packed full of PEG- compounds, talc, parabens, and synthetic fragrance or flavor. When I couldn’t, I decided to make my own with that end goal in mind. So here’s the truth: CLOVE + HALLOW was never developed to be the cleanest, greenest or purest line on the market. There are so many incredible brands out there positioned that way and doing exceptionally well and I wholeheartedly support them, but that just isn’t us. In short, I launched CLOVE + HALLOW to create clean products that were up to my professional standards as a makeup artist without the crazy expensive price-point. Because of that, you may find a silicone or synthetic in some of our products and we may have less organic ingredients compared to some of our competitors. But, and you have my word on this, we only utilize synthetics when they serve a legitimate purpose in the formula – such as preservation, shade, or wear-time – and only the safest synthetics (below a 3 on the EWG) are allowed. CLOVE + HALLOW is truly revolutionizing clean beauty, and I am so thankful for all the support that has allowed us to do so. Upward and onward!