If you have the fortune to meet Axiology Vegan Lipstick Founder, Ericka Rodriguez, in person, you’ll quickly learn that for this California-born beauty, she’s not into playing small. A vegan since her tween years, Ericka has been an advocate against animal cruelty for as long as she can remember, using her voice to protect the voiceless. She also had a mad crush on lipstick, amassing a collection of shades to pair with her current mood. Imagine her shock when she realized many of her favorite brands tested on animals and even contained animal byproducts. She turned her anger into action and set out to create the most comfortable, wearable, sustainable lipstick on the planet, starting with small batches from her kitchen.
Her brand, Axiology, is named after the philosophical study of Beauty and Ethics. Fitting, to say the least. Featuring only 10 ingredients that you won’t mind eating, Axiology’s Vegan Lipstick color range is packaged in luxe black and gold triangular boxes made from recycled trash from the island of Bali, and proceeds from each purchase go to protecting precious wildlife and natural habitats for Orangutans. For Ericka, the mission of her company is not just to create a beautiful color brand, but to keep the land, our animals and conscious companies thriving while she’s at it. Proving you don’t have to sacrifice glam for doing good, Axiology sits alongside all of the other major brands in Sephora (many of whom are still testing on animals), gently shifting consumer demand away from conventional products towards more sustainable options. I recently sat down with Ericka in San Francisco, and we spent so much time talking, I nearly had my car nearly towed! I hope you enjoy learning about the dynamic female entrepreneur behind the perfect lipstick.
How did you learn the art of formulating lipstick and cosmetics?
I learned how to formulate vegan lipstick through lots of practice, play and determination. Truthfully, I had no background in cosmetic chemistry, but I was so emboldened to my cause of creating vegan lipstick that I made learning this trade a priority in my life. I started with understanding ingredients, doing loads of research and then started mixing, melting and pouring my first lipsticks.
When it’s time to create/develop a new product, how do you begin?
I usually take the time to carefully consider what the natural market needs. Once I understand what this product will be, I purchase the product from many different brands so that I can test different formulations over and over again. I assess what I like and dislike so that we have a goal in mind when formulating.
What’s been your biggest discovery in terms of the creative process for Axiology?
Not to hold on too tight to any one idea, concept, or plan. When I have brought stress, hurry or frustration into the creative process, things seem to fall out of place. When I have patience, light-heartedness and composure, the creative process works with me as opposed to against me. For example, we had been trying to create a “true” red using only natural pigments for a year (this is a difficult process when you are only using earth pigments as there is no true red in nature). Because I felt that Axiology really needed this color in our line, I would feel disheartened and anxious that we were not figuring out this formulation. However, recently, after forgetting about this project and pushing it aside, my formulator was just playing around in the lab with color and was able to come up with a true red! It was magical!
Axiology is proudly a vegan and cruelty-free cosmetic line. Can you tell us how this became important to you?
Animal welfare is integral to Axiology’s philosophy. I have always been an animal welfare advocate. I stopped eating meat at 11 years old after realizing meat came from animals. All of my life I have made room to foster, volunteer and advocate for the voiceless. In my early twenties, I became really hooked on lipstick. I was living in NYC and loved matching my mood to my lips. However, after another impulse purchase of a new lip product, I stared at the back of the ingredient list and realized I couldn’t read anything in this particular product’s ingredient deck. I went home and started researching, which led me into the realization that animal testing still exists in the beauty and personal care industry. My heart stopped. It was then that I realized the beauty industry needed illumination.
What’s your workspace like and a little bit about your team?
We have an open workspace with large windows and lots of light. We make all of our products in-house so there is always lipstick melting in our lab, music playing and packages being packed up. We currently have a small team, 4 of us total including myself (aside from our partners that don’t live near us, which we love). We are a very tight-knit company. We make time for laughter, lunch parties, and tea, lots of tea.
What’s next for Axiology Vegan Lipstick, can you share some of what we can expect from you in 2018?
Yes! We have a new product launching in 2018!
Do you collect anything?
Does it count if I eat it? 🙂
How do you relax?
Baths, playing with animals, soaking up the sun, and being around people I love.