The Make Up of Makeup: How One Entrepreneur is Changing the Cosmetics Industry
Energetic, enthusiastic and fun are three words to describe Alina Lucía Imbeth Luna. But her favorite words are organic, vegan and cruelty free. They’re the backbone of her Medellin, Colombia-based cosmetics company, Pure Chemistry. Learn how this chemist and engineer is revolutionizing the cosmetics industry and read about her advice for future entrepreneurs.
What is Pure Chemistry?
Pure Chemistry is a company that invents, manufactures and sells beauty products directly to the consumer. What makes us stand out is that we are certified organic, vegan, and cruelty-free.
Many companies say they do no testing on animals, but we go one step further. None of our processes or ingredients has any animal components.
Ingredients from animals are common in the cosmetic industry but for us it is not an option.
If it’s common, how do you avoid using them?
For virtually any synthetic or animal ingredient, there is an organic, plant-based alternative.
Collagen, for example, is an animal protein that we don’t use because there are vegetable alternatives that give us better results.
As for honey, we don’t take honey away from bees, we use cane honey.
So for whatever reason people have, be it religion, ethics or they just decide not to use a product that has ingredients that come from or are tested on animals, they can come to Pure Chemistry.
Many companies use the word “organic,” but you are “certified organic.” How is that different?
We are proud to have the Ecocert certification. Ecocert is an international entity that has a standard for the definition of what’s considered organic cosmetics.
To get certified, ingredients need to come from renewable resources, manufacturing must be environmentally friendly, packaging must be biodegradable or recyclable so it’s not just about the product, it’s also the packaging and the production of all our ingredients.
Certification, for us, is very important.
I could tell you right now that I am Hillary Clinton, but if I don’t show you an I.D., you won’t believe me, right?
That’s why it’s important to be certified.
How are your products tested?
Our products are tested on people because they are made for people.
We have a testing club at Pure Chemistry. Many are from our University and are chemists and physicists as well friends and customers who volunteer to test our products.
People call all the time about being in our new product test group and we pay no one for testing. This is very important to us so people are honest about the product and their results.
What is your team like?
We are a company of women and everyone has their own expertise.
We all have some authority roles over our own specialties but there are no hierarchies here. The business model is a circle. We all support each other.
We have no set schedule. Our team comes to work when they need to – at the time that they need to work. You don’t have to be sitting here doing nothing if, at that time, there is nothing to do. It works very well for us.
Our customers are also an important part of the Pure Chemistry team.
Since 2015, many new product ideas have come from clients’ requests. They write to us, send us messages, and we keep a list.
People started requesting, “Please, we need a toothpaste,” and we said, “Let’s work on a toothpaste.”
Others wrote, “Please, we need a product in a size that can go in a carry on bag at the airport,” so we did.
We mean it when we tell our clients, “Your comment, message, suggestion won’t be in vain.”
How hard is it to develop your products?
As a child, you don’t think about having to make money to do this and that.
For me, product development is like that little girl inside me that wants to experiment.
It’s fun, but not easy. It took us almost six years to develop a shampoo to make sure it did not have sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, the quickest, fastest, and cheapest way to make shampoo. It took us that long to get a product that would comply with the organic certification and one that you could use on both babies and adults.
We also have to think ahead. When we started developing nail polish, we also needed an organic nail polish remover, one that was also not flammable so it can easily be shipped internationally. Now we have a patent pending water based nail polish remover.
We are always amazed and encouraged when something that we came up with is working for someone. They write things like “I love this product. I love this company. I love you guys.” It’s very heartwarming.
This is what makes me get up in the morning.
It’s creativity with a purpose.
What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs?
Don’t just make a business plan and wait.
Entrepreneurship shouldn’t stay on paper.
There should be no excuses. Go for it. Be willing to make mistakes.
As long as you are clear about where you want to go, there are many ways to get there. You can make a mistake, you can fall, a million things can happen.
Examine and redefine your goals as you learn from your mistakes.
What advice do you have for little girls?
I would tell any little girl or boy, “Start by writing it.”
Write about what you want to do, what you dream about.
As years go by, look to see if that was just a kid thing, a whim, or if it was really a dream.
As you grow up you forget that as a child you wanted many things, but if you write them down, it will give you something to look back on.
For me, I can say, “Look, I wanted to be a scientist, and I did it!”