Cynthia Besteman - Violets are Blue

I was so honored to feature Violets are Blue Skincare as one of the very first product brands I profiled last year. I am just as honored now to share the founder, Cynthia’s, interview with you!

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me how special Breast Cancer support is. When I discovered Violets are Blue and learned that she not only creates a special line of natural products that are perfect for users in chemo, but also donates 10% of her sales to give these products away, I was in love.

I have also had the pleasure of meeting Cynthia Besteman in person and she is every bit as amazing as her products. We attended the WELL Summit together a few years ago, and I was privileged to share both a meal and a life-changing workshop with her! Cynthia is a survivor, and she created Violets are Blue because she was shocked by the number of beauty products that are marketed as “natural” and still contain parabens, sulfates, and other chemicals known to work as endocrine disruptors linked to cancer and reproductive concerns.

When you meet Cynthia, you immediately know that she is a force to be reckoned with. She has that blatant honesty that seems to be a byproduct of being a New Yorker, but she delivers it with the empathy and kindness of your best friend. One of my conversations with her is the #1 reason I continue to try to give up my addiction to Aveda Shampure.

You can read the rest of my review of her products here.

And be sure to hop over to her site and order something amazing today. In this month of love, we can all show ourselves a little love by using products that are good for your skin AND super luxurious!

P.S. You can also find her products at Anthropologie and Nordstrom. #goals

My takeaway: Knowing what you will not compromise on from day 1 is the best way to experience joy in your business - even when things are hard!

Website: Violets are Blue Skincare Instagram & FB: @violetsareblueskincare

Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it? 

I created Violets Are Blue, an organic skincare line after my cancer battle. A 25 yr vegetarian, my diagnosis made me realize it didn't matter what I put in my body if what I put on it was toxic. I worked on the brand for 2 yrs and launched in 2015. I run everything from customer service to logistics, to social media. It's a lot, but I love every bit of what I do!

Why did you start your business? 

I was given a petrochemical based product for my skin during treatment and that freaked me out. I started making healing skincare for myself, then for the women I was in treatment with. When my oncology team noticed how well my skin was doing, they knew I was on to something. They wanted cleaner options, that worked, for their patients.

Violets Are Blue donates products to women at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC on their first day of treatment and the program is growing. 10% of the purchase price of our products support these donations, so when women purchase something healthy for themselves, they are helping women stay healthy through treatment.

What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you? 

This means so much to me, and I am happy to see so many companies that are values based coming up in the ranks. It is important that companies give back, lift up, and push hard to keep things transparent, safe and trustworthy.

In today's society, with so much going on in the world, if each company did even one small thing to make change, the collective could make a huge impact!

What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started? 

Being a small business definitely has its challenges and you can get really beaten down. What gets me through these periods are the emails I receive from women telling me how much they love the products, how it has helped their skin so much, how they can see a difference in their skin, and how they love how we give back. This makes my world!

Hearing from each woman, or gentleman, how our products have made them love their skin is what makes all the hardship worth it. I also love the green beauty workshops I participate in and help women who are new to green beauty figure out what to look for and what to avoid. Showing them it is not as scary or overwhelming as it feels is really wonderful.

What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business? 

Growing a company is like feeding a fast growing child!

It is so important to keep up with the quality of the product as we grow, and so many people suggest cheaper options to me from packaging, to ingredients, to sourcing. I will not compromise on that and that means paying more money. Of course I want my company to make money, but I am happy to get there a little slower without compromising my values.

What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years? 

I want to see more regulations in the beauty industry, more along the lines of what the European standards are. I want to see animal testing completely banned and aluminum banned from products.

In terms of Violets Are Blue, I want to continue to build on our foundation with our Green Beauty nights, educating women on how to switch to green beauty.

I also would love to see our donation program in 20 more hospitals. Of course I would be lying if I said I didn't want to see our products on more shelves and conventional stores!!

Who are your business icons, heroines or mentors? 

My mom is a huge influence on me business wise. She started her business in her 40's and became a top stock broker in a field dominated by men. She is also the person I go to when things get rough. I have a group of women business owners I meet with weekly who help keep me accountable.

And I recently met Indie Lee, a green beauty icon, and a woman I have greatly admired, both for her health battle and company ethos and she was as lovely as I could have hoped, and then some.

What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business? 

Follow your heart, listen to your gut and keep your mind open.

Many times we get pushed into doing something that doesn't feel right or on the flip side we don't see the forest for the trees. We have to be able to pivot and adapt all while staying true to our values. When things get hard, remember your "why."

What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?

Well, the Cancer Wellness Expo - (I am a co founder!), WELL Summit, and I never turn down a chance to go away for the week with my mom and sister to Rancho La Puerta in Mexico.

What is the last book you read? 

I am currently reading The Woman Inside by EG Scott. I love a good thriller!