While perusing the beauty aisles of Target or Ulta, chances are that a rainbow-hued line of products have definitely caught your eye. That’s Pacifica Beauty, the vegan, cruelty-free clean brand that’s been around since 1996—before vegan was a thing. Brook Harvey-Taylor started making the essential oil-based concoctions in her kitchen, and with what she calls pure grit, she’s grown the brand to become the ubiquitous (and wildly affordable) non-toxic force it is today. The latest launch is even supercharged with crystals.
“I live this brand,” says Harvey-Taylor. “It’s my life story in products.”
She’s right—Pacifica Beauty may have started in her kitchen because she loved mixing potions, but it’s endured because of her passion—and knowledge of her consumer—that got her to where she is today.
“As a woman in this business, it’s super important to just keep moving forward and be fearless,” says Harvey-Taylor. “You can’t be afraid to ask and push and think—that’s what really moves you forward.” Here, she discusses what got her started and what gets her out of bed everyday.
Keep reading for Harvey-Taylor’s career advice and beauty intel.
What led you to start Pacifica Beauty?
I used to pretend I was a medicine woman when I was a little kid. I grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana and would pick herbs in a creek and make tinctures with spices in our kitchen—that was basically how I played. I was really into creating these potions that would help people.
Then, when I was a teen, my sister and I volunteered at our local food coop, and we could choose which area we worked in. I worked in the health and beauty department, so I was exposed to natural beauty from a really young age. I loved the packaging and the whole experience of it—so when I went off to college, I studied aromatherapy and worked for an aromatherapist-slash-crystal healer.
I found myself more excited about making perfumes in the backroom, so that became the first genesis of Pacifica Beauty. I’d sell them locally in Eugene, Oregon, which was supper hippy. The Grateful Dead would come through and I’d sell my perfumes at their shows and the local country fair.
Later, I went to school to study sociology, and throughout my studies, I became keen on the idea of keeping things fair—which is what really kept me grounded in the price point and accessibility of Pacifica. I still feel that all women deserve better-for-you beauty at the right price—that’s been a huge part of the brand’s DNA. Then when I met my husband, he convinced me to start the brand.
What are some struggles you’ve felt along the way and how did you deal with them?
One of the biggest struggles for me was creating our mascara. I kept pushing on a formula and the factory was like, “We’re done with you—you’re crazy.” I think we went through 40 submissions. Getting the formula right and pushing people to use ingredients they weren’t familiar with has been challenging.
What’s your best advice for career women?
My best advice is to not believe there’s such a thing as work-life balance. I’m a business person and a mom, and some days I’m really good at running a business and I feel like the worst mom. Or the other way around. Women have to take it easy on themselves and stop worrying about being perfect and finding a magical balance. We have to start forgiving ourselves for our failures and accepting not being perfect and getting through this world without beating ourselves up. Also I drink a lot of coffee.
Where do you see the future of beauty?
My hope is that in 10 years, we’re not having a conversation about “better for you”—we’re just like, oh, killer, this is beauty and I can experience it all. I’m starting to see the shift and retailers digging into what it means and I think the customer is asking for it. I love seeing the way my 16-year-old daughter and her friends think about ingredients—it’s so different than my generation. They’re going to drive what beauty looks like in the future and I already see huge changes because of them.
Other badass boss babes include Bee Shapiro—who turned her side hustle into a cool-girl beauty brand—and Annie Lawless, whose autoimmune disease sparked her to launch a makeup line.
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