Madeline Alcott, co-founder of Petit Vour, is a beauty pioneer - she and her partner started the first vegan and non-toxic beauty box in the beauty industry! Keep reading to learn what this multi-faceted hustler does to stay balanced, and her all-time favourite cruelty-free skin care products.
Can you tell us how you started Petit Vour, and what was your journey like up until establishing the company?
We launched officially in spring of 2013, but there was 6-9 months of prep work involved before the official launch. My partner was getting his second degree in music (his first degree was in entrepreneurship and finance!), and I had experience in retail/sales, so event hough I was teaching at the time, we had the joint talents necessary to launch a business.
Petit Vour is really a passion combined with a need that we found. I had always been really interested in ethical businesses, whether it’s beauty, fashion, or food. I thoroughly enjoyed researching and discovering new brands and building a relationship with founders, and asking questions about manufacturing, ingredients and materials. So without really realizing it, I had this massive deck of knowledge related to ethical businesses. My partner and I decided to make use of it, looking for ways to provide values to others - we made it our mission to make cruelty-free cool and accessible. With that in mind, we decided The Beauty Box was the easiest way to provide that hands-on discovery. We were the first in market, which was really awesome, and within the first few months we realized we had to launch an online shop so that we could be full-service. Since then, it’s been an ongoing process of growing, evolving, and refining the curation because there are new and innovative green beauty and ethical fashion brands launching every month.
How do you usually look for products to feature in The Beauty Box?
So many ways - it helps that our team is growing and really it requires everyone on the team paying attention, eyes wide open. We’re reading everything - every magazine, blog, and news article we come across. We’re always browsing Instagram and social media to see what’s new and fresh, and brands also reach out to us, so it’s just a combination of all these things.
We have our own process so if we see a brand that looks really fabulous and special, we’d dig a little deeper and start a conversation to ensure the brand is cruelty-free. Then we’ll dig even further, we’ll try out their product, the whole team will test out for weeks. If the team really enjoys the product, if we’re talking about that little experience again and again then we’re like, “Okay, we need to make this happen. This is going to be a hit”.
The April Beauty Box, featuring our Piña Colada Lip Polish! Image source: Petit Vour
“We definitely don’t want to have a brand featured
in a box and then they’re forgotten two months later.
For us that’d be a total failure.”
We are so honored that our Piña Colada Lip Polish was featured in April’s Beauty Box. With many subscription boxes popping up nowadays, what do you think differentiates your Beauty Box?
There are quite a few things, but what makes Petit Vour really unique is that we’re the only vegan and non-toxic beauty box that is very accessible. We have the lowest price point and yet the box itself and the content is very well curated and personal. We are the only beauty box in the natural and cruelty-free realm that can curate very precisely because we have very in-depth customer profiles. We are able to select items that we know our customers are excited to try, and we only include miniature sizes for the most part. We want to make the discovery really fun and luxurious, and we want it to mean something to brands as well. To be meaningful for our subscribers, it needs to be well curated and it needs to be really attractive, and in order for it to be meaningful for brands, we make the discovery element wonderful so that all of these new fans want to know more. We’ve given them a taste of something excellent, and they want to see what else is offered by this brand. That’s where our shop comes in to play, and it’s our job to continue that education and to create really striking visuals, continue telling the story, and bring in new, interesting content that is very valuable to our readers. We definitely don’t want to have a brand featured in a box and then they’re forgotten two months later. For us that’d be a total failure. What we want to do is bring the fans of ours to the clean, cruelty-free brands. We want to tell the story and make the connection as meaningful and long-lasting as we can.
Petit Vour also carries cruelty-free clothing lines. Were there any challenges faced with expanding your lines?
Absolutely. When you’re starting something new and you don’t really have the traditional experience, you have to be crafty with how you’re presenting your brand and make your proposal sound extremely attractive to your potential brand partners. I think fashion is a whole other ball game; it’s incredibly challenging but we knew that our customers wanted not just beauty and wellness but the full cruelty-free lifestyle. It’s interesting because cruelty-free in fashion means sweatshop free, which is different from beauty. So primarily we make sure everything is made responsibly and fairly as far as how humans are involved in the process, then from that point we’re looking at materials, ensuring that they are animal-free and sustainable.
What does your typical day look like?
About a month ago, my partner Ryan and I adopted a little dog, Maya, so our schedule is now a little bit different and richer now. Usually we wake up around 6-6:30AM and we’re running around, getting ready, and trying to play with Maya as well, and then we take her on a walk. Our headquarters are dog-friendly, so all of our team members are encouraged to bring their dogs. Once I have Maya settled in, I just hop right into work. Every day is a little different, but usually I’ll be checking emails and managing the wholesale side of the business, but also managing The Beauty Box curation with Ryan, just to make sure that everything is on track and we’re booked for the next nine months. Usually there’s a product that I’m sharing with the team, so I’ll meet with the team and try things out together, then I usually help operations for a bit too, managing shop orders but also managing the part-time beauty boxers which all happens in the headquarters. It’s nice having a dog in the office because it forces us to get up every thirty minutes to an hour. But when you jump back into work you feel a little more invigorated. It’s a healthy distraction!
"Adding play time, whether you have a kid or a puppy,
or you just go out with friends, and forget responsibilities
for two hours, it’s really nice."
What morning routines or evening rituals do you have to keep you balanced?
To be honest, nothing makes me feel healthier than running around outside with a dog after work, playing outside in the grass, and going to the dog park, and interacting with all the animals and animal lovers. It’s really nice just to socialize and be around with all these cute happy little beings. I get a little bit of vitamin D, get some exercise in, and coming home you’re tired, you’re sweaty, and you’re ready for a big protein smoothie and it just feels really good. Then by the time you go to bed you just crash and melt into your pillow. I think that is just the best. Adding play time, whether you have a kid or a puppy, or you just go out with friends, and forget responsibilities for two hours, it’s really nice.
What’s one skin care product you can’t live without?
I definitely rotate things out because I’m always trying things and I love smelling new things. Fortunately my skin isn’t very sensitive, so I can try a bunch of products!
I’d say my skin really loves oil cleansers. It’s just really amazing and I feel that oils really pull the grime from the day off my face. When you have a warm washcloth or Konjac sponge, it pulls everything. One of the things I have not rotated out of my skin is May Lindstrom’s The Pondulum Potion - it’s a really fun oil cleanser to use and smells very exotic. I also love Konjac sponges - I always have them by my sink. They’re really lovely and make my skin look brighter!
Interview conducted by Yuri Hirama