Annie Lawless is a multi-hyphenate. Businesswoman, health coach maven, and soon-to-be mother, her drive for success are hard to find. She is incredibly successful. After founding one of the largest cold-pressed juice brands in the U.S., Suja Juice, she moved quickly to fulfill another dream, creating a highly-pigmented, super clean beauty line. As a child, she suffered from skin and health issues and assumed she was just born with this and would have to manage for the rest of her life. As an adolescent, she was diagnosed with Celiac disease, a condition she had never heard of and that changed everything. She became empowered with knowledge and within two weeks of removing gluten from her diet, her eczema, allergies, asthma, and digestive issues completely cleared up.
She started Lawless Beauty with the mission to create “highly pigmented, full coverage, and long-wearing clean makeup with a no-tolerance policy for sheer, wimpy, no-makeup makeup formulas and any kind of potentially toxic ingredients”. Annie went against the rules and created her brand based on all that she knows, from her years of experience. We interviewed her about clean beauty, her business strategy for COVID-19, and what she hopes changes the world after the pandemic.
Our Interview with Annie Lawless
1) What is Lawless? How did Lawless begin?
I created Lawless out of a personal need for clean, toxin-free makeup with beautiful ingredients that actually performed like the conventional makeup I was used to using. I am so passionate about health and wellness, and I had switched over to clean skincare after reading a lot about the harmful ingredients in a lot of personal care and beauty products on the market. When I realized that a lot of the ingredients I had cut out of my skincare routine were also in my makeup, it seemed disconnected to me to be using clean skincare, then putting all of those ingredients I was aiming to avoid back on my skin 5 minutes later with my makeup. In an effort to change this, I purchased and tried many clean makeup products from many different brands, and I was very underwhelmed.
As a makeup lover, I found that a lot of clean formulas on the market didn’t have the same coverage, performance, quality, wear time, finish, and luxurious packaging that I was
looking for. It seemed that in order to wear clean makeup, I had to sacrifice on the artistry level I was used to using. I knew there had too many other people who felt the same way, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and create Lawless to fill the void for high performance, full coverage, beautifully packaged clean makeup.
2) Why is clean beauty important?
Clean beauty is important because it comes down to our health. If I won’t eat toxic chemicals, why I want to put them on my skin, which then effectively gets absorbed into my body? I am currently 8 months pregnant and this time of growing my baby girl has really highlighted the importance of being mindful of everything I consume. It has also made me realize that I will take such great care in the ingredients I put on my baby’s skin, but why wouldn’t I have those same standards for my own? The beauty market is largely unregulated and most beauty products have not been tested for human safety, and the FDA allows chemicals known to be linked with cancers like parabens, lead, formaldehyde, and phthalates. Talc is a great example of a classic ingredient that has been used in baby powder and cosmetic powders for over a century.
Recently we realized it can lead to serious health ramifications and death. There is still so much research that needs to be done, but if an ingredient has been linked to cancer or disease or has been suggested to be harmful to human health, I will not use it in my products.
3) Why do you like using clean beauty products?
I love using clean beauty products because from a vanity perspective, my skin is SO much better! Since switching to clean skincare and makeup, it is night and day more clear and even, and the tone is so much more vibrant. It is truly the best it has ever been. I always tell people that even if you don’t care a lot about the ingredients in your beauty products, you will care about clean beauty. When you see how much more beautiful your skin becomes by cutting out harsh, harmful chemicals. I never really struggled with acne, but I did always have “texture”. Small bumps and rough areas on my skin that were kind of just always there. I also had a much duller tone to my skin when I wasn’t wearing makeup and experienced blackheads around my nose and chin area.
All of these issues have completely gone away since making the transition to clean products and I am so in love with clean for that reason. Another huge benefit is that it just feels very self-indulgent and rewarding to use products that you know are good for your skin and your health. Applying clean beauty products is a form of self-care for me.
4) How are you revamping your business model to fit with the current time?
Sephora is our exclusive retailer, and they have always prioritized cleanliness and hygiene in their stores. Sephora will move to a no-touch policy, in which customers will no longer be able to pick up and touch testers or apply the product to themselves. Beauty Advisors and our brand field team will also not be touching clients. Instead, they will demo the product shade, texture, and application on their own skin and verbally educate on the product. We are also implementing blank face charts as well as face charts with existing Lawless looks. Now, Beauty Advisors may apply the product to the charts to show application techniques that the client may take home to replicate. Our brand field team will also be wearing specific looks so that they can “show and sell” the look from themselves.
5) How has being pregnant changed your work/life?
I am someone that will take on everything, say yes to everything, and push myself to my limits. This is because I love what I am doing. When I found out I was pregnant in December, to say I was surprised is the understatement of the century. This news forced me to immediately step back, reflect, and reevaluate. I realized when it was just me, I was willing to put myself last in order to accomplish everything I wanted to do. Now that there was a little human growing inside of me, slowing down was important. To take inventory of my life, and put more attention on my own self-care, and wellness. Becoming pregnant and understanding my vital role in nurturing and protecting this new baby’s life. This caused me to remember my vital role in nurturing and protecting myself.
I feel a responsibility and duty to care for myself in the most conscious ways I possibly can. That is why I allow myself to sleep more. I made my 30-minute morning meditation time non-negotiable. Also, I became religious about taking prenatal and vitamins, started tracking my meals, and working with a nutritionist. I switched to gentler and more enjoyable low impact workouts that I love. I started saying “no” to things I didn’t want to expend my energy on. Also, I started saying “no” to people that didn’t energize me. As a “yes” person, this was a very meaningful shift for me. I am now eight months into this journey and I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I truly don’t think I’ve ever felt quite like this, mentally,
physically, and spiritually. I feel reconnected, recharged, and recalibrated like I’m vibrating on my highest frequency. I feel a sense of self-love and respect that is deeply rewarding and nourishing.
I start every day around 6:30 am and I meditate for 30 minutes before doing anything. This is a non-negotiable for me I have practiced for years. It really gets me in a good headspace and sets me up for whatever the day brings. After that, I do a workout. Lately, I have been going on long walks incorporating hills or doing low impact workouts on The Mirror. The Mirror has been amazing during pregnancy because you can select from so many different classes and styles of workout. Then I have a big green smoothie while opening and answering e-mails. This has been the go-to breakfast for me during pregnancy because I have craved cold, creamy things.
I add spirulina, barley grass, spinach, collagen, DHA oil, hemp seeds, turmeric, liquid iron, plant-based protein, almond butter, berries, peaches, and cherries. It is super thick and keeps me full for several hours. Between 9 am and 4 pm I work on Lawless. This usually involves lots of emails, phone calls with my team, Zoom meetings, testing lab samples, working on upcoming product packaging, creating content, and managing various project timelines. Some days I spend naming new products, writing copy, and
working on launch plans.
I love that every day is a little bit different because it keeps me inspired and invigorated. In the early evenings, I go for a walk with my husband. I switch out of work mode and catch up on our days. We both love cooking, so we make dinner together and watch our favorite show at the moment. We just finished Game of Thrones, and now we are on Season 2 of The Crown. I love this time together at home before the baby comes. We can enjoy these last few weeks just the two of us before our baby girl joins us!
7) What advice do you have to business owners about adjusting to life during COVID-19? Pregnant mamas?
This is such a unique and difficult time for many businesses, especially small privately-owned businesses. As a business owner, my advice is to take everything in stride. Work to be nimble, flexible, and make smart financial decisions amid so much uncertainty. We are focusing on a digital strategy to help cater to online sales with brick and mortar stores closed. We have increased our digital spend to drive brand awareness and exposure. Lawless re-launched our website to provide a richer dotcom experience with enhanced functionality and a more user-friendly way of shopping. We have also put a hold on plans to move into a new office for now. As a pregnant woman during COVID-19, my best advice is to keep everything in perspective.
It has been hard not being able to have my husband at scans and appointments, my doctor canceling most of my in-person visits, not being able to see friends and family, and not being able to celebrate with a baby shower. It can be easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed with so much change. Not only happening not only in your life but also in the world around you. Whenever I feel that way I take a step back and remember how lucky I am. In the big picture, that is the only thing that matters. So what if I can’t have a baby shower? I will celebrate with my friends after the baby is here. At least then I can have a big glass of rosé with them! So what if my doctor canceled my appointments?
It’s because everything is going smoothly and she doesn’t need to see me. By focusing on these positives when I am feeling anxious, sad, and alone really shifts my mood and reminds me of what is really important.
8) What do you hope the pandemic changes for the better?
I hope that this has been a big wake up call that we need to slow down. It has forced so many of us to really look inward and reflect on the way we live our lives. For me personally, I will not take little things for granted. Things like quiet time at home with my family, walking outside, and cooking a great meal with my husband. I had forgotten the profound pleasure in these simple things in life. I was so “busy” with work and achieving and doing.
With so much overstimulation, we have become programmed to go go go and do do do. Without access to the things we often use to fill our time and distract ourselves with has made us sit with ourselves. We now think about what we want from our time here and the way we want to live. While you’re here, check our interview with our founder, Bianca May Cheah.