Meet Mesquitta, a young and dynamic woman on a fascinating journey. Her business, Vegan Beauty Cosmetics, sells gorgeous glitzy handmade vegan nail polish and cosmetics. But Effiena’s story is an interesting one: she became aware of veganism through her business, rather than starting the business from a vegan perspective. How great is that? Let’s find out more…
How did this all start for you?
“The business began in August 2014, however I didn’t realize my products were vegan… As a nail technician, I began to research polishes and how they can be toxic to us. This when I thought to create a non-toxic nail polish.”
You must have been just a kid in 2014 right?
“Yes, I started the business before I began university, I was young and never really interested in what I ate. I am mixed race and grew up in a Caribbean household: we were always cooking meat and at family occasions the table spread would include a lot of animal products.”
So how did the vegan thing come about?
“To sell cosmetics I needed a safety assessment, to make sure they comply with regulations. With this the supplier of my ingredients let me know that the products I use are cruelty-free (as well as non-toxic). I researched into this further and realised my products are cruelty-free and vegan friendly! So, my brand was “accidentally” already vegan!”
When was this?
“This came to light in late 2015/early 2016 and in August 2016 I decided to rebrand to Vegan Beauty Cosmetics and to do this for the animals…”
Cool! What happened next?
“As I attend vegan fairs selling my products I get the chance to meet so many unique people who give me an insight into their vegan lives. So with this, in 2017, I decided to take the plunge and become vegan! I felt I was doing my bit to save the animals and environment and also to improve my health as I do become ill quite easily.”
How did that go?
“Being a student on a budget I found that frozen veggie products were cheaper and easier to buy and cook. With my brand being vegan I began to care more about what I eat so I felt happier eating these products and not just because they were a cheaper option. ”
Still, going vegan overnight can be tough, especially without a support network…
“Attempting to be vegan for me has just been all about research! Attending events, being in facebook groups and reading blogs. And Attendees of vegan fairs! You motivate me!”
“At university I never really ate much meat anyway and I haven’t drank cows milk in years, so I thought this would be kind of easy for me to transition into.”
So what happened next?
Unfortunately I have been very unwell over the summer. I can’t do a lot of things I used to be able to do, which has been getting me down. My illness is still being investigated, but when I became ill I stopped eating altogether, it was difficult. So I am not vegan at this present moment (more of a vegetarian). I am so gutted, however, I am still doing my bit and attempt not to eat/use animal products.”
So, what is life like day to day for you?
“Average life for me now is running the business whilst in and out of doctors/hospital. Waiting for September to arrive to start university again. Before I was sick I was doing 2 part time jobs as well as on placement year at university working from 4am -9pm, which wasn’t the best option. Working on this business when making products makes me happy and I go into my own little bubble and it takes my mind off it all. ”
So, what’s next for you? After uni and when you are better?
“I’m looking into volunteering abroad, working on the environment to save anything I can whether it will be plants, rainforest, snakes (love snakes), marine (dolphins), turtles you name it I will be there!”
And finally, any words of wisdom?
“Continue doing what you think is best. Do it for the right reasons! Don’t just follow the crowd..”
You can buy Vegan Beauty Cosmetics from Effiena on her Etsy store or at a vegan fair near you.