For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with Meghan from Sey Cosmetics, vegan and cruelty free beauty products. I really admire Meghan, she is so clearly passionate about making good choices in life and in her business, and not relying just on buzz words like 'vegan' to sell her brand, but going the extra mile and making sure that her ingredients and containers are sustainable too.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
Hi, my name is Meghan and I design eco-beauty sustainable skincare and cosmetics
How or why did you get started?
I started because the society or the social environment I was in, was continuously telling me that I am too black and ugly and need to bleach my skin. So, I did. I already have problematic skin. I have dry acne prone skin (my is hormonal). The bleaching made it worse physically, and emotionally. Hence, I decided to start designing my own products to try and fix the damage that I’ve done.
All my degrees are in Marine Science. The science bit or the logical side of making the products came easy to me but the challenge was to actually find a solution for all skin type as even with the formula it didn’t really involve my dark skin type.
What is your favourite thing about the materials that you work with?
I will say instead of favourite, it will be the love and hate (lol) relationship I have with designing plant base ingredients. Working with natural oils, waxes and butters and trying to mix them with synthetic ingredients can be a massive headache that drives me crazy at times.
When people see a lipstick, that is all they see “a lipstick”. For me it’s a whole year of trying to find the right balance for the right temperature at which the lipstick won’t melt or become too solid to the point that its impossible to use. Also, the right balance of mixing the ingredients that will help give that nice highly pigmented end result. A product can take me between 6 months to two years to create as I spend a lot of time researching if the ingredients are biodegradable, non-persistent, long lasting and finding the right containers as I provide refills for all my products.
Have you got a particular cause or issue that you would like to raise awareness of?
As consumers, we really need to understand what we are buying. It is so easy in this day and age for a well-established brand to claim they are doing something for a cause and we believe them blindly. Why? Because they have ways of manipulating the truth. See, I didn’t grow up in the West, I grew in a part of the world that the media like to use to push “a cause”.
I see it all the time here, even in public bathrooms. “Help the little African girl who needs sanitary pads, or a picture of the little African boy who needs food. If you pay this amount, we will be able to do this. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying all charities, organisations, businesses are like this, but unfortunately a lot of famous brands including beauty brands are. I’m from the Seychelles which is found in Africa and these photos doesn’t represent my country. So, if you’re buying from a beauty company that claims to help, make sure they are backing up those claims with, why, when, how and where exactly they’re helping and not just claiming a whole continent like Africa or Asia to profit over it.
One charity I work with here is Matico studio, a jewellery and handmade lampshade brand. She details how she’s helping build a school in Ghana and will go into more details of where in Ghana.
The same goes to cashing in on a movement. Right now, I hear about vegan cosmetics everywhere. A product can claim to be vegan, as long as its not tested on animals or contains animal by-products. But that doesn’t mean it is environmentally friendly or the ingredients be it that its natural like essential oil is okay. If those ingredients are obtained from torn war countries or obtained by a child from what is classified as a third world country, those types of products are not ethical and brands like these does not care about the vegan movement, equality movement or humanitarian movement, they care about profit.
We shouldn’t buy just because it’s cheap, we shouldn’t buy just because it is endorsed by a celebrity we love, and we shouldn’t buy just because it is an established brand. We should buy, because the product is not causing any environmental, mental, social, and emotional harm.
Can you recommend any other makers or businesses that work in an ethical or sustainable way?
Where can we find you on the internet/buy your work?
My website is www.seycosmetics.co.uk
I talk about environmental protection and discrimination in relation to the beauty industry on my social. If you’re interested in learning more about eco-beauty sustainability my Instagram is Sey_Beaute and my Facebook is Sey-beaute Naturelle