We still can’t believe that this month marks our 10 Year Anniversary! There’s no denying that green beauty is here to stay, and our founders have gotten front row seats to this revolution, so we sat down and picked their brains about their favorite moments and best pieces of advice after a decade in the industry!
See below for our Q+A Session with W3LL PEOPLE co-founders, James, Renee, and Shirley, and help us celebrate by enjoying 10% off + Free Shipping on all full-size, full-price W3LL PEOPLE products online and in-store through the end of the month!
Q: What is your best memory from the early days of W3LL PEOPLE?
James: The three months just before, and after, we opened the Studio. The concept was so young, unknown, exhilarating, scary. No supply chain logistic challenges to solve yet. No investors. No inventory forecasts to fret about. Just big ideas and some beautiful intentions. Back then we really had no office space. So Shirley and I would go to the Whole Foods Flagship on Lamar for “meetings.” We’d have quiet little dinners at the seafood bar in the far back of the store with folks shopping for their organic goodies sifting around us. We had wine, dreams, and tacos. Anything was possible. And it still is.
Renee: Having our families at the opening of our flagship store in Austin, Texas was a wonderful memory. Also, traveling abroad with James and Shirley has been such a bonding experience. Most fun memory is of the opening of W3LL PEOPLE in ‘& other stories’ in London.
Shirley: Honestly, everything leading up to June 28, 2008 (the day we opened the doors to our first W3LL PEOPLE Studio in Austin, Texas). James, Renee and I were driven, challenged and inspired to do good, and we were going to do it our way. You see, we are 3 friends from college with an unbreakable bond on a mission. Every late night planning, designing, and crunching numbers was made of the stuff all dreams should be made of: partnership, friendship, and positivity. Did you know that we hand poured most of W3LL PEOPLE’s makeup out of the Austin store? We’d pour makeup whenever we could to meet the following day’s sales. Late nights and early mornings in the Studio was never a chore. Nothing felt more right.
Initially, I ran the day to day business at the Studio on my own. I still carry the time I spent with our first customers close to me today.
I look back at my long after work walks around Lady Bird Lake and smile.
What do you think is a secret to W3LL PEOPLE’s success?
James: Our unique, integrated approach to beauty. Three beautiful minds are better than one; especially when they include extraordinary talents in cross-disciplinary fields that compliment one another. Basically, we’re a triple threat that can’t be stopped.
Renee: It’s definitely our friendship, but I look back and realize that the support and encouragement from family and friends has continued to fuel the project and dream. The journey to opening up a business is hard, to keep it moving forward is a passion.
Shirley: We built our brand with a bond that will exceed its lifetime. James, Renee and I have shared tremendous growth, challenges and, at times, heartache. We’ve been there for each other. And this is what fuels all that we have done and continue to do.
Any tips for going into business with friends?
James: Be calm, kind and generous with yourself. Pass it on.
Renee: Communication. Stay respectful and don’t ever be reactionary. There is no tone in text messages or emails and it’s easy to be curt and short when you’re rushed in a busy day. We all respect each other and that has fueled our friendships.
Shirley: Never lose sight of what brought you together in the first place. Be honest. Have a plan. Strategize your shared talents and put each one to work. As success and business begin to grow, always make a point to schedule time together outside of the workspace.
Q: What has been the greatest surprise in the past ten years?
James: Ha! How profoundly difficult it is to run a natural beauty brand. Hmm. Maybe the biggest surprise is how right we were. The world needs W3LL PEOPLE. W3LL PEOPLE needs the world.
Renee: How well green beauty is growing. Our product line continues to succeed in Whole Foods and Target.
Shirley: That after 10 years we are still going… and we are better than ever.
Q: Why is green/non-toxic beauty important to you?
James: Hmm. If I’m being honest, there’s a little David vs. Goliath syndrome at play. The work of “taking on the man” and helping clean up the crap in the conventional beauty industry is definitely a huge challenge. And I love a good challenge.
Renee: What we put on our bodies makes a long-term difference on the appearance of our skin and our overall health.
Shirley: It’s the right thing to do. Period.
Q: What makes you passionate about your work?
James: On one level the simple answer is women. Helping inspire a confident grin on a woman who’s seeking to engage with life in a more mindful way… maybe a swipe of our mascara on a rushed, weekday morning helps her “gear up” to face the world with some turbo power. It’s like, wow! I get to be a part of THAT?! It’s not like we’re performing surgery, but we are touching people in a real way. That’s pretty cool. And the fact that I get to create moments like that with a team and business partners whom I deeply admire makes it even more of a true blessing.
Renee: Seeing results in the products made and being able to utilize organic aloe and other essential oils excites me. I’m so pleased with our product line, I think it’s the best.
Shirley: Every person I touch makes me passionate about what I do.
Q: What is the ONE WP product you can’t live without?
James: Our Bio Tint Multi-action Moisturizer with SPF 30. We spent five painstaking years to develop this all-in-one natural wonder. We became obsessed with creating a clean BB cream with a luxurious texture, semi-matte payoff, legit coverage, pure zinc sun protection, and an age-defying cocktail of organic botanicals, herbs, and adaptogens that would make any beauty junkie swoon. And we actually did it. Boom.
Renee: Our award-winning Expressionist Mascara. I can use it on my eyelashes and I dab a bit on my eyebrows to fill them in. This instantly wakes up my eyes.
Shirley: Nudist Multi-use Stick in Nude Rose. Gotta have my blush!
Q: What about W3LL PEOPLE makes you the proudest?
James: Gosh. That may be the toughest question. I participated in a clean beauty forum recently with Credo and EWG. I asked if we had any W3LL PEOPLE women in the audience loving the brand. I got a cheering ovation. I felt incredulous and pretty darn proud.
Renee: I’m clearly going to say the product line, but I realize that I am lucky and blessed to have found two wonderful people to share this remarkable journey with.
Shirley: Our commitment to evolve and grow. We are consistently challenging ourselves to be better.
Q: What is your biggest dream for the future of W3LL PEOPLE?
James: Using the success we have gained as a brand to take it to the next level. In a weird way that means going back to that simple place where anything is possible. And now we have resources to make those new ideas possible. That excites me. So better buckle up, cuz I’m ready to take W3LL PEOPLE on a bumpy beautiful ride.
Renee: I’m excited to see the company continue to grow and continue to innovate in the world of clean beauty.
Shirley: Ultimate accessibility. For everyone.
Q: What’s your greatest hope for the future of Green Beauty?
James: That Green Beauty simply becomes Beauty. This is already happening.
Renee: That more people will begin to understand and realize the toxic load of chemicals to the body with repeated use of common products that contain harmful chemicals. It’s important to begin to understand that the choices of what to put IN our body are as important as what we put ON our bodies.
Shirley: That Green beauty is ALL beauty.
Q: Aside from clean beauty products, what else makes you feel W3LL?
James: When I’m mostly quiet and feel dialed into my true self. JAMES = W3LL. Most likely simply sitting on my front porch listening to the neighborhood with my dogs, or taking a hike in the foothills of my ranch just north of Santa Fe.
Renee: I am grounded by my family and my friends who support us as a team. They nourish my soul.
Shirley: Time with my beautiful wife and son.
Doesn’t reading this just make you love this trio even more? Our entire team is so inspired by them daily, and thankful to be led by people who are filled with good intentions and positive vibes. Thank you for reading, and for helping us continue to celebrate! Check out our recent blog post, 10 Years of Being W3LL, for more about our anniversary.