A Moment with Brandi Leifso, CEO of Evelyn Iona

Frankly, I could never have enough makeup. Have you heard of Evelyn Iona? This organic makeup line put a lip gloss in every April Mommy Mailbox and we can’t wait to try more of their products. CEO Brandi Leifso talked to us about finding the courage to leave an abusive relationship, which gave her the boost she needed to start her own company. Pretty inspiring, right? See the gloss in our April box here and check out the rest of Evelyn Iona’s line.

What inspired you to start Evelyn Iona and where did the name come from?

The name Evelyn Iona came from a previous partner’s middle name and my middle name, Iona. The inspiration behind Evelyn Iona (Evio) came from a difficult time. I had the idea to create a cosmetics line after spending 5 years in the fashion industry managing international models. However, the dream didn't become a reality until I found myself living in a women's shelter in 2012 due to an unhealthy relationship. Starting Evio helped me move forward, it helped me create something that would help me heal, get back on my feet and help other women who have experienced similar experiences with a product that most women use every single day. In my opinion, it is also one of the most empowering industries/products when it uses its 'super powers' for good. This is why we donate $1 from every product we sell to empower woman through YWCA Canada and contribute to Beauty Night Society and the Maple Batalia Fund. in 2015 we contributed over $20,000 of funds and products (We are super, over the top proud of this!) 

We think it is an important part of business, to give back! 

We love hearing about young CEOs doing their thing. What are some of the best lessons you've learned thus far?

Oh boy! Where do I begin? I think the biggest lesson learned is DON'T GIVE UP! Another good one is stay grounded and focused on WHY you started in the first place. The minute you loose site of this, nothing makes sense anymore and it's easy to think 'I want to give up!' I'm the type of entrepreneur that speaks pretty candidly about experiences and tribulations. After all, the struggle is real. Sometimes I write about them on our Evelyn Iona blog at www.evelyniona.com. 

What advice would you give to other women looking to start a business? 

Just do it! Don't think about it too much, just start shaking and moving and never stop. Do what you do for a reason. Know WHY you are doing what you are doing, stay ridiculously obsessively focused and it will all come together; it won't be easy, but it will all come together. You are capable of incredible things, bigger then you would ever imagine – and don't you forget that! 

Tell us about the inspiring work you're doing with at-risk women in the Vancouver, BC area.

We have had the opportunity to work with some pretty amazing programs run by AMAZING people! One of them being Beauty Night Society founded by one of my best friends, Caroline MacGillivray. The tag line of Beauty Night is 'Dignity is Beautiful' and that kind of sums it up! Four nights each week, Beauty Night offers wellness, life skills development and makeovers for participants. Beauty Night takes place at shelters, health care facilities; drop in centers, and transition homes. They are total rock stars, serving 300 impoverished women and youth each week. You can learn more about them at http://www.beautynight.org/

In our experience - and I think every girl can attest to this, you have a new sense of confidence once you get pampered, which many of these women would not experience otherwise. This confidence can be life changing. When you feel strong you can make big changes. We also donate $1 from every product that we sell at www.evelyniona.com to YWCA Canada. YWCA's 'Turning Point Programs for Women™ - addresses personal safety, economic security and well-being. YWCA is the largest national provider of shelter to women, serving 25,000 women, children and teen girls including 6,000 fleeing domestic violence each year.  Also the largest provider of literacy, life skills, employment and counselling programs in the country, and the second largest provider of childcare services

These causes are close to my heart and I am very thankful for the work that these organizations do in the community! 

Tell us more about the SheRose color in our April box. What inspired the color and the name?

YAY! We love talking about where the names of our products have come from. Each of our lip glosses is named after super rad women! Val (neutral shade) is my sister, Susan (light pink) is my mom, Brooke (deep plummy red) is my oldest friend. Annnnddd, SHEROSE was a name selected by the wonderful women at YWCA Canada HQ. It was made in honor of their Rose campaign to end violence against women. You can 'meet' these amazing women and learn more about the names and why we chose them at www.evelyniona.com