Rewind 04: The Wellness Cancer Summit: The Latest Technology In Health, Fitness, And Beauty with Cynthia Besteman

August 16, 2018

FYSR 4 | Wellness Cancer Summit


Cynthia Besteman of the successful skincare line, Violets Are Blue, returns to talk about a very exciting partnership. As audience would probably recall, Cynthia previously shared how she had overcome breast cancer and developed her natural skincare line through the whole process. Cynthia updates that the company’s doing great and growing by leaps and bounds. Her biggest news is that they are partnering with Donna Karan’s Urban Zen as well as with SaltyGirl Beauty to bring a first of its kind Wellness Cancer Summit to New York City. It’ll be a full day of all things cancer-related for all types of cancers where they’ll be discussing treatment options, health and fitness, beauty, meditation, and the latest technologies.

I’ve got a great guest I had months ago. She’s got an amazing skincare line,, we promoted on the show because I use it myself. I’m fortunate and grateful that I’ve got Cynthia Besteman back. Cynthia, how you doing?

I’m doing great, Mark. Thank you so much.

We did a podcast together and we talked about how you had overcome breast cancer and through that whole process had developed this natural skincare line. You were gracious enough to me to send some product out and I use it every day. Especially, my skin was destroyed from being on the glacier and lots of sun bouncing off the snow and onto my face. It’s restored things and I want to see how your company’s going.

First of all, that’s the best testimony I can get from someone who’s summited and then come down and use the products to bring their skin back, it doesn’t get better than that. I’m doing great. The company’s doing great. We’re growing by leaps and bounds and exciting things are happening particularly on that breast cancer front. The biggest news is that we are partnering with Donna Karan’s Urban Zen to bring a first of its kind, Wellness Cancer Summit to New York City. It will be a full day of all things cancer-related for all types of cancers.

[bctt tweet=”Focus on being healthy as opposed to being sick.” via=”no”]

We’ll be discussing the treatment options, health and fitness, beauty, meditation and the latest technologies to help with things like the lymphedema and hair loss. We’ll have brow artists and nipple tattoo artists there. It’s a great day for people to come and feel good, get some information, bond with other people who are going through something like this and focus on being healthy as opposed to being sick. We’re also partnering with SaltyGirl Beauty on that, which is a phenomenal makeup line that was started by two sisters, one who was an oncology nurse and one who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was seven months pregnant.

Where can people find that wellness conference?

It’s here in New York and there will be a that will be up and we’ll have lots of great things being updated daily.

We talked about one of the things that my podcasts have brought for me is this gratefulness on hearing all these amazing stories from people like you because your background and what you went through, you must get the same type of stories and feedback products that you use.

I get emails and phone calls daily from people. We donate to women on the first day of chemotherapy at Mount Sinai here in New York City. I get daily emails from women who are so grateful to have something, your skin is ravaged through treatment, that keeps them healthy and keep their skin hydrated and looking beautiful. They continue on and they graduate over to our other lines, which it’s all organic ingredients. I’d like to get the ingredients as close to the Earth as possible. They’re clean and beautiful working products, to hear how they touch women of all ages means the world to me.

FYSR 4 | Wellness Cancer Summit

Wellness Cancer Summit: I get daily emails from women who are so grateful to have something that keeps them healthy and keeps their skin hydrated and looking beautiful.

It’s gratifying to get that feedback. In my situation, I live in this bubble and I never know who is paying attention and who’s not. Every once in a while, I get these emails and people are like, “I was in St. Louis, I was running under the arch. I happened to be listening to certain podcasts and it touched me in such a way that I needed to pick up on that particular day.” You get to know the types of people you’re going to touch.

You and I discussed how I listened to your podcast and the next thing, I’m learning things from people who have nothing to do with the life that I’ve lived and they’re inspiring me for many different reasons. What I think is great about what you do as well is you bring people from all different points of the Earth, in their life, things that they’ve gone through and we’re all finding a commonality in that. To have a company as opposed to just selling skincare to women that you don’t hear from, I’m with these women. I’m doing events at breast cancer events where I’m talking to women and sharing their journeys. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. I didn’t have a business degree and didn’t know what I was doing.

[bctt tweet=”Being an entrepreneur is not easy. You fall down a lot.” via=”no”]

You fall down a lot and what keeps me going are these messages from women, men and the women’s caregiver saying how much this stuff helps them. I’m not out there curing cancer, but I’m making people who have cancer feel a little bit better and gain a little bit more of their dignity back. To hear that, that is what drives me on the days where I think, “What am I doing? What have I gotten myself into? This is hard.” It’s bringing the community together and connecting people, which is exactly what your podcast says, which is why it’s so fantastic.

Thank you. This podcast that we did together was so inspiring, I loved it. Where people can find you is I’m excited about re-cranking this older episode out and hearing your story because it was inspiring to me.

I hope people enjoy it as much as I enjoyed doing it with you. It was an absolute pleasure. I hope people can, whatever their journey is in life, if they haven’t been touched with cancer, I do hope that they can learn something to help them out in their life as well.

Let’s go all listen to Cynthia Besteman’s Violets are Blue Podcast.

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The Wellness Cancer Summit: The Latest Technology In Health, Fitness, And Beauty with Cynthia Besteman

We’ve got Cynthia Besteman. How are you doing?

I’m doing very well, thank you. I’m in Upper West Side Manhattan and it is a horrible here. I’m happy to be inside talking to you.

Are you talking like a deep snow or are you talking about rain sleets?

Rain sleet sideways where you can’t see three feet out your window. I’m doing whatever I can not to have to go out into it. That’s the norm for New York. You take the good with the bad.

If there was ever a title from my podcasts that I have Finding Your Summit, all about overcoming adversity and finding your way, you certainly would fall into that category. I’ve known your brother, John Besteman, most of my life and what a fantastic, great guy. He’s always been a big supporter of mine. I know that he did well in high school and played with my old high school quarterback in college outside of the great city of Seattle. I had seen a Facebook post about congratulating you on your second or third or fourth or first anniversary of you overcoming breast cancer.

That was a Women’s Day article and it’s coming up on my seventh year, if you can believe it. It’s crazy to think it’s been that long because it seems like yesterday, but it also seems like a lifetime ago. He’s been an amazing support since the moment I got sick. Growing up in his shadow, I’m three years younger, coming behind him through school and through college is not very easy because he’s a pretty spectacular all-around guy. I’m so thankful to have him as my brother. He is pretty amazing.

John’s always been that way and very consistent in his life. When I reached out to him, I said, “Your sister, I need to be connected with.” He did connect us and here we are talking about your story. There is one component of this as like, “What an awesome story of a woman overcoming breast cancer and what she had to go through on that end.” The realization, which launched into a whole career, was profound for me as I did a lot of research on you and your story and how you got Violets are Blue off the ground. Let’s go back a little bit. I know that you were an East Coast-West Coast girl. You went to college at the University of Oregon.

Yes, I’m a very proud Duck.

At the University of Oregon, you studied theater, which then led you back to the great city of New York.

I came here for what I thought would be a two-year stint with a Broadway Professional Training Program at the Broadway Theater here called Circle in the Square. From there, I started working with a repertory company for about fifteen years doing Off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Things snowballed and the next thing I knew, I was in New York for 25 years. I feel like this is now my home as long as I can make it back to the West Coast a few times a year. I get the best of both worlds.

I came out here for theater. I fulfilled that dream, which was not easy, and I have no regrets. I loved everything that I did, but it’s hard as being in sports. It’s a hard life and you have to put a lot of work into it. It doesn’t always pay a lot of money being in theater, which is what my focus was and that led me to go into a career in real estate to try and make a lot of money. That was the key for that. I got tired of living hand-to-mouth and not being able to travel or visit my family because I was always working. As great of a life as it was, as I got older, it became exhausting.

[Tweet “Learning about yoga, healthy eating, and mindfulness gives you tricks throughout the days to handle your diagnosis.”]

A lot of times you see these stars that are out there and that’s what they are. To make it on that kind of scale, sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s talent, sometimes it’s knowing the right people. You’re talking about theater, not necessarily movies. I have so much respect for actors who are hand-to-mouth for all the years and you got to have and feel purposeful about why you’re doing that crap because it’s a labor of love.

You have to want to go into it wanting to be an actor, not wanting to be a star. Those are two very different things. I have friends who are still working at it and they made it into TV shows or movies and they’re considered overnight successes. They’ve been working at it for 35 years. It’s really crazy. It’s something that you cannot imagine not doing and if you can imagine doing something else, you should do something else.

What was that transition going from theater to real estate?

It was fairly easy. I had a job that took me to Moscow, Russia and we were doing this interesting thing where Russian actors came to New York. We did a play where we spoke in English, they spoke in Russian. It was talking about the two divergent cultures and how we did theater so differently. Americans do everything small, tight, intimate while Russians did everything big and powerful. We went to Russia to do the same thing there. This was in the early ‘90s. I met who is now my ex-husband there and he was working in theater and TV in Russia. I realized after staying there for awhile that I couldn’t stay in Russia. That wasn’t where I wanted to be. I convinced him to come to New York. It was hard for him to readjust here and find work here. I decided at that point, I was looking for a way to take a break. I said, “Why don’t I get a job that focuses on making money and you go to school here. Enroll in NYU, go to directing school. That way, you can figure out how you want to land here in the city.”

Right off the bat, doing real estate, I started making money and having money is nice. It afforded me a lot of things that I had been going without for many years. It became addictive. Then it became a trap for me because money is great, but it doesn’t fulfill you. Once you get used to having a certain lifestyle, it’s very hard to change. That’s where my illness came in. My body did what my mind couldn’t get myself to do because by the time that I did get sick, I was pretty miserable in real estate and didn’t know how to get out of it because it afforded me a beautiful life.

It’s the classic golden handcuffs. We see that so often and part of the problem with that is you’re manifesting all this different stress and, in some cases anxiety, inside your body. I had a doctor buddy, the concept is all about stress and what stress does. He said he had finally stopped putting any kind of limitations on what stress could do to the body from tumors to breaks to fractures to nerve damage. It’s like across the board what stress can do to the body, just wreck havoc on it. It sounds like you’re making a bunch of money, you’re living in New York City, life is going fairly well, but you’re not happy doing what you want to be doing at that point. Tell me how that all happened. When you went to the doctor and he said, “Guess what.”

It was regular routine mammogram sonogram. This is what I recommend to women, too. You have to get a prescription now to get a mammogram sonogram. I always say that ask your doctor, your gynecologist to give you a referral for a sonogram. I went for my annual, nothing showed up on the mammogram. That looked fine. They did the sonogram and I knew something was wrong the second when the tech started asking me questions about real estate and was I traveling anywhere. I was like, “Why is she trying to divert my attention?” I knew something was up and then the radiologist came in and he took a look at it. It was just a small dark, shadowy blip on the screen. I have to say, he was amazing because he knew immediately that I was starting to panic. As luck would have it, he was going on vacation that following week. He said, “Listen, come in before the office is open tomorrow. I’m going to do a biopsy.” I was the first person in the morning and he biopsied it.

As I was leaving, I said to him, “Do you think we’re looking at something serious? Do you think this is something?” The look on his face was like he was debating, “Do I give her one more day of ignorant bliss or do I tell it to where I see it?” He said, “I’m really sorry, but from what I’m looking at, I can say with almost 100% certainty that this will turn out to be malignant.” I remember the classic stomach dropping, knees buckling and I’m just filling up with tears. The only thing I could think to say to him was, “Am I going to be okay?” He said, “You’re going to have to go through some stuff.” He used a different word and he said, “We won’t know until we get in there and what we’re actually looking at, but the odds are in your favor. If you’re going to get cancer, getting it New York City is the one of the best places to do it. We’ll make sure that we’re with you the whole way.”

Is that because of the treatment?

Just the treatment options, the facilities, the hospitals, the doctors. If you need to get into a trial, depending on how advanced your cancers are, the immediacy. My sister used to live in Waterville, Maine. In order to get a doctor’s appointment, she’d have to wait two or three weeks. In New York City, I can get it in a day. From the time I was diagnosed to the time I had surgery, it was maybe two weeks at most. In other communities, you could wait months before you’re able to get surgery. I’m a type A. Once I found out I had it, I was like, “I want this thing out of me. I want it done. I want to move on. I just want to get this over with.” I found really great doctors. I went to Mount Sinai in New York City and they had a breast center that opened called the Dubin Center. It was started by a woman who’s a physician who got breast cancer herself and she’s a philanthropist. She started this amazing center where they incorporate things like pre-surgery massage, yoga, mindfulness, and Reiki during treatment and all this wonderful supplementary treatments to the regular chemotherapies and radiation.

I’d seen a couple of doctors before and I call it my Goldilocks experience. The first doctor was very laissez faire. He didn’t seem to pay much attention to what my diagnosis was, what was going on. The second doctor misread my charts and said that I was a higher stage than I actually was. We walked out of there after coming off of one thinking, “We’ve got this. This is a breeze.” The second doctor was much direr. We left there panicked. The third place I went was Mount Sinai and it was the perfect mix of hand holding and we’re going to tell you like it is. I signed on with my surgeon right there. I booked the surgery four days later and I was in the hospital having a lumpectomy within two weeks of my diagnosis.

Talk about that complete crazy shift in your life. Going into this, this woman doctor that you were talking about, around the massage and yoga and things like that it was a whole idea to try to just calm the body down. Because like anybody, you get some news like that and you go into panic mode. I’m sure your nerves are frayed and there’s uncertainty.

FYS 47 | Violets Are Blue

Violets Are Blue: The doctors can lay out what your options were, but they couldn’t tell you what to do. You have to make that decision.

I was a textbook for how not to handle a diagnosis. I went into complete panic mode. I drank more in that week than I had in a whole lifetime. I’m not a drinker and I was having two Martinis a night. This is the other thing that I say to women once they’re diagnosed, “Most hospitals offer mental care. Take advantage of their social workers. Go in there, talk it out. If you need a little help with the Klonopin or Xanax, take it. If that’s what gets you through the next three months of your life, six months of your life, do it. Do whatever you can to make it as easy for yourself because you’re making big life decisions that can be life or death decisions.” I don’t know how it is in all hospitals, but all the ones that I went to, the doctors can lay out what your options were, but they couldn’t tell you what to do. You have to make that decision. In my case, it was lumpectomy versus mastectomy versus double mastectomy versus lumpectomy, radiation, mastectomy no radiation, gene testing for the BRCA for HER2 for hormonal therapy.

You have to figure out then by all of these testing, how you’re going to choose your treatment. It’s overwhelming because you don’t know, “Am I going to make the right or wrong choice and how is that going to affect me down the road?” With your body in stress, it’s like what you’re talking about with your buddy who’s a doctor. You release hormones when you’re stressed out that do not help you in any way, shape or form. With the Dubin Center, bringing in these things to calm you before surgery, that’s just amazing. I remember waiting my surgery and you’re sitting in a room in a gown with other people lined up who are having surgeries for you have no idea what. You feel like cattle going in for slaughter. To have someone also just touch you and calm you down and say, “It’s going to be okay. We’re here for you,” the human experience makes all the difference in the world.

Learning about yoga, healthy eating, and mindfulness gives you tricks throughout the days to handle your diagnosis. When you’re done with your treatment and you go on with your life, it’s about making sure that you incorporate those things into your life, so that you don’t get this cancer or any other cancer back. It’s a huge tool that I hope to see more hospitals do in time and I think they will. It’s the trend that they’re now the exception, but I’m hoping that in the next few years, that will be the rule of how hospitals treat all forms of cancer.

It’s trying to calm the body, the mind, the soul down and put yourself in the best position of success to exit out in a very successful way. You must have made the right choices. When I say this, I say, “Knock on wood,” because I’m sure you have to go back every year or whatever your rhythm is, but so far, seven years later, here you are. You had the surgery, then you went through radiation. How long did that last?

That’s six weeks. When you go through radiation, you go everyday at the same time for six weeks. It takes its toll. I sailed through the first two weeks and I remember walking up Broadway one day. I was one of the first ones in the morning to get treatment. It was 7:00 AM. Then I was running around doing stuff and I remember walking up Broadway and thinking, “I have to lay down. I have to lay down right here.” I could not get hold fast enough. From then on out, I was absolutely exhausted. It was like it suddenly zapped every ounce of energy from my body. From then on out, it was like my hair became course, my skin became really dry and patchy. It was like every ounce of moisture had been sucked from my body. That lasted for a good six months after my treatment. I couldn’t even imagine women who went through chemotherapy on top of radiation, how they must have felt.

You were going through all these physical changes for obvious reasons. Where is the genesis to the idea around this product line, Violets are Blue, come about? What’s the timeline?

It’s funny because when I mentioned that you have to become the CEO of your cancer and get really educated on the type of cancer you have, the genome that’s in it, I became convinced. Before I was diagnosed, I assume that the precursor was family history of which I had none. I hadn’t had red meat in 25 years. I exercised. I never smoke. I rarely drank. My genome type, being primarily hormonally driven, I became convinced that my cancer was caused by the environment. My current husband, we were business partners in real estate. When he saw that I wasn’t handling the diagnosis very well, he said, “I’m going to take over the business. I’m going to take over all the responsibilities of the household, our life. I want you to focus on you. You focus on getting through this. You do whatever it is you have to do.” We sometimes laugh about it because I don’t think he understood the journey I was about to go down or how much time I’d be taking off of work.

The first thing I did was completely ransack our apartment because I wanted to get rid of anything that I thought we could be ingesting or inhaling that caused my cancer. That was everything from our bath mats to our box spring or cookware. Any plastics we had like Tupperware type things, our microwave, our rugs, everything, I got rid of. The skincare, I don’t know why I didn’t think about it because everyone knows the skin is our largest organ. It filters everything in and out and I didn’t think about that as something that I had to be concerned about. Then a few months into my diagnosis, I was at the pharmacy picking up one of my prescriptions and there was a woman in front of me picking up a topical ointment for her infant. The pharmacist said, “You just take this. Rub it into her forearm for a few seconds and then she’s good to go. It will be in her bloodstream.” I thought, “What am I rubbing onto my forearm that’s going right into my bloodstream?” When I got home, I gathered up my skincare, my hair care, and I wasn’t too concerned because I was using what was known to be a botanical brand and it had the picture of coconut, lemon, and rosemary on the label. I thought, “This is going to be fine.”

When I turned it around and I saw the ingredients, I was horrified because that rosemary, lemon, and coconut were at the bottom of the list and with ingredient listings, it’s the most to the least. The first ingredients are the most in the formula, the bottom ones are mostly under 1% or maybe under 5%. Then the lemon and mango that I thought I was using weren’t even actual lemon and mango. They were mango scent and lemon perfume. What was listed at the top of the ingredients were petrochemicals, sulfates, parabens, dyes, perfumes, all these stabilizers, everything that would make a product look, smell, feel good, and have a very long shelf life, but nothing that was going to be doing any benefits for my skin and potentially harming what was going into my bloodstream.

FYS 47 | Violets Are Blue

Violets Are Blue: The first day of chemotherapy can be scarier than the day that you’re diagnosed.

The next thing I Googled was how to make your own organic skincare and oddly enough, the next night, a class called Bath and Body University was starting ten blocks from my house. It was run by this amazing woman named Marla Bosworth who owns Back Porch Soap. She goes around, and she teaches classes on making organic skincare and how to source. She’s one of the most educated, smart, and intelligent women I know in this field and she’s become my mentor. I signed up for the class. I went down the next night and my world was completely changed for two reasons. One, I became fascinated learning about how basic, simple ingredients that have been around for centuries can work way better than conventional skincare. Argan oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, Abyssinian oil, and essential oils like Helichrysum for scarring, lavender, all these beautiful products that you can mix together to make these wonderful products to help your skin stay healthy.

Also, because for the first time since I was diagnosed, I wasn’t in my head thinking about my cancer, thinking about my treatment, thinking about am I going to be okay. I’d have moments of, “I’ve got a headache or is that a metastasis?” Your mind just goes nuts. I fell in love with the whole process. It became very therapeutic for me, almost meditative. That’s where the seed was planted, and I knew that I love to do it. At this time, I was in radiation and so the day after the classes, I would go in and I tell other women what I was doing and it’s, “When you go home, order yourself some coconut oil and some coconut butter. Blend it up and add a little bit of essential lavender oil in it, and you’ll have this amazing mousse that you can put on your breasts and it’s going to help you.”

Their response was, “Cynthia, as fascinating as it is, I have a full-time job. I have three children under the age of eight. I’m a single mother. I’ve just had six months of chemotherapy. I don’t have the time or the energy to make my own skincare on top of all this. I don’t have the time or the energy to go to the drug store and sit and try and read the plastic labels.” I thought, “Fair enough. I wasn’t working. I have no kids.” I decided to make a skincare for the women. I called them my radio-mates who were in my grouping of radiation. I made products for them and they loved it. They were so appreciative and more importantly, the products really worked for them. The whole line grew out from just making it for the people that I was going through this process with. That was how the seed was planted.

How many years has Violets are Blue been in existence?

We started the donation program in 2013 with Mount Sinai, which is where I was treated. I went in for my checkup. It was my three or four-month checkup after I was finished with treatment and my radio oncologist said that my breasts was one of the best healed breasts she’d ever seen and wanted to know if I did anything different. I told her how I was making my own products and she said, “I’d love to have something to give to the women here. I hate giving them Aquaphor, which is filled with petrochemicals, which basically sealed your skin. Nothing can come in or out and it’s unhealthy.” That resonated with me. Then I was talking to my oncologist about it a couple of weeks later at my appointment and said, “I’d love to figure out a place to donate products to.” She said, “Why don’t you do it here?”

I laughed because I thought, “At Mount Sinai in New York City. This is just a hobby for me.” She said, “What better place to do it?” We discussed that they had all these great programs and so not wanting to turn down a challenge, I said, “Give me six months.” For the next six months, I’ve formulated. I worked with Marla from Back Porch. I brought in a biochemist. I had all my friends and family be testers and just sourced in stores and formulated and I found beautiful glass jars to put it in. I didn’t want to put them in plastic. Six months later, we presented our Beloved Line, which is our treatment safe skincare to the heads of Mount Sinai and they were blown away and they loved it.

They said, ” When can you start?” I said, “Next week.” They told me they’d have about several hundred women come through the center a year. Then I thought, “How am I going to pay for these packages?” That’s then when I decided to start a second line, which is now called our signature line and we have the same basic products with a little bit more essential oil. Then I brought in additional products, scrubs and masks and those types of things that you wouldn’t necessarily want to use while you’re in treatment but are still great for your skin. The whole company launched in 2015. That took me a little bit of time. I had a theater degree. I didn’t have an MBA. I had no idea how to run a business coming from acting to real estate. A lot of mistakes were made in starting the business, but by 2015, we launched at the Indie Beauty Expo where we won best in show, which was great. We’ve also won the Gorgeously Green’s Best Brand with a Mission. 2015 is when the train has left the station and we’re gathering steam. I would say that’s our timeline.

When new patients go into the hospital, they are given this gift basket or this set that you have packaged in a box. They are presented that.

They’re given on their first day and this is for breast cancer patients. It’s not all cancer patients. That would be a goal of mine in the future. Anyone going to the Dubin Center at Mount Sinai, on their first day of chemotherapy, is given our full Beloved Line of full-sized products to last them through their whole treatment. I get emails from women all the time. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the first day of chemotherapy can be scarier than the day that you’re diagnosed because you don’t know if you’re going to have an allergic reaction. You don’t know if you’re going to become sick, when are you going to lose your hair. That’s a very big deal for these women. A lot of them are working, some of them are single moms, some of them have kids. The real concern is how their body can tolerate this.

All the communications have the same theme that to be given something to open, to touch, to feel, to smell, something that’s not pink, something that’s not medicinal. To say, “We’re here to help you stay healthy,” not about focusing on them being sick, they’re just so grateful for it. The products work and they combat the lips chopping and cracking, the fingernails falling off, the feet cracking, the skin become very crappy and elephant like. They lose their hair. The skin on their scalp is extremely sensitive to sun, to the elements. To be given things that help them feel healthy during their treatments, they’re so appreciative of it. As the company grows, my goal would be to get into twenty hospitals by the year 2022. That’s what I’m aiming for. I’d love to bring it to more programs that are similar to the Dubin Center.

You were very generous in sending me a little gift set to kick this thing off and when I opened it up in this confetti type stuff was engulfed around the different products. I hadn’t even put anything on my face and I felt healthier. It was just fantastic.

That means a lot. Thank you.

[Tweet “To have someone also just touch you and calm you down, the human experience makes all the difference in the world.”]

I started a company called Front Porch Classics and we ended up in 700 different retail locations, seven countries. I ultimately sold the company. One of our strengths was packaging and you nailed it.

That means the world to me because that’s something that was so important to me. It’s not cost-effective to package in glass. We use glass because that’s what the Egyptians used to store their things on chemically.

I was researching and I was like, “This is fascinating. Ancient Egyptians used these certain kinds of glasses to preserve substances to prevent spoiling.” How did you even fall upon that?

I knew that I wanted to put things in glass because you read about oils being in plastic bottles and how they can leach estrogens into the oils and seeing that my cancer was estrogen-driven, that’s something that made me very nervous. I knew I wanted to package in glass. A lot of the Green Beauty Brands do that because it’s just a safer way and one day, because the name of the company is Violets are Blue, I just Googled violet glass and this came up. I immediately fell in love and reading the history and how it keeps things more potent for up to six months to a year than it would be in regular packaging, I was just sold and it’s not cheap. Our margins suffer because of it, but it’s worth it to me to bring a quality product. Also, in Green Beauty, we try and limit the preservatives we use. It’s very important for people to know that you always have to have preservatives in a water-based product. Do not buy anything that does not have a preservative.

If it’s only oils that’s great, no preservatives, but anything that has water in it, the bacteria that can grow from that water is way worse than any natural preservative that is going to be product. That’s a falsity that people don’t understand when they are going green. With the violet glass, you can limit the amount of preservatives that you put in because it gives it a little extra protection and it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful and it’s thick. I dropped mine on my tub many times and it hasn’t broken. It gives a weight to the product and I love it. The second I saw it, I knew it. Then I did see many other green brands who had it. I thought, “Genius.” It’s because we all have the same goal in mind to use the best packaging that can be recycled. That also gave me the insight to know that I was on the right path in choosing that.

I’ve got a special a friend was here when this package arrived. I opened it up and she’s like, “What’s this?” I’m pulling these things out and she didn’t know that you and I are connected. I didn’t even know that this package is on the way. This is a surprise thing from you. She was pulling these things out and looking and she specialized years ago in cosmetics and so she’s reading the different labels, all the ingredients, the glass. She was nailing every single one of these points about organic and the glass part of it. She was so impressed about it and she didn’t even put anything on. She was so impressed about the hacking and the ingredients that were there. You’ve got a couple of fans. Where did you come up with this great title, Violets are Blue?

It’s the least interesting part of the story, but it also shows how the universe conspires to make things happen. When I was in college, I was working. There’s an area in Seattle called Capitol Hill and it’s funky where the record stores and vintage clothing stores are. I was working up there and I thought, “One day, I’m going to move here, and I’m going to open a store and call it Violets are Blue.” I had no idea what or where or how and that was the easiest thing for me in choosing the name. It’s interesting when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. You’re inundated with pink. Pink ribbons, pink t-shirts, pink mugs, pink hats. I thought, “If one more person gives me a pink mug, I’m going to throw it at their head.” It’s like when you’re first diagnosed, you don’t want to announce it to the world.

I didn’t want anyone to know I was sick. I didn’t want anyone at work to know. When someone sends you a t-shirt with a ribbon on it, you’re so appreciative that people are thinking about you, but then it feels like it’s a big spotlight on you that you’re sick. I wanted to bring a different color into the scheme of breast cancer and when giving the packages, there’s other colors out there. Then also with the color blue, on one hand, it signifies sadness and sickness, but then in studies, people find that blue is the most comforting, most healing. It’s this wonderful full circle thing of us saying, “You’re going through something crappy right now and you’re down and you’re sick, but we’re here to help you, see you through and see you on to a whole new healthy lifestyle.”

There are two things. One, you’re providing a solution. The second part of that is years ago, I was in France and in these massive lavender fields. Your website is coated with this lavender and your products. I know that’s more of a purple-blue color.

FYS 47 | Violets Are Blue

Violets Are Blue: The essential lavender oil has been shown in studies to be the most calming on the nervous system.

Violet is a very lavender color. What’s important to know about lavender too, which is what we use as our main scent and we put in enough to cover up the base oils that essential lavender oil is been shown in studies to be the most calming on the nervous system. It’s the most helpful with dealing with inflammation throughout the body. That’s why I wanted to focus on the lavender scent, the calming. I cannot imagine what being in those lavender fields must’ve been like for you.

It was very calming. I was at a place like a monastery. It’s fields and fields with lavender. It was beautiful. Where can people find this amazing product?

You can find us online at You can find us in Anthropologie. We launched online with Nordstrom, which is very dear to me being a Seattle girl. That was a big crew. There’s also a great store called Credo Beauty, which are poised to become the green beauty version of Sephora. It was started by two top execs who were at Sephora who left to create a greener alternative and they’re gaining grounds throughout the US and they’re growing. 10% of the purchase price, whether they buy it to us online or in any of these doors, go to support these donations. When you buy something healthy for yourself or a loved one, you’re also helping women. You’re buying these packages for these women to be given on that first day. It’s also women helping women, which I want to promote. Everybody’s been touched with a loved one who’s been diagnosed or to give them something other than flowers to say, “We’re thinking about you.” Although we do donate them, we do offer the Beloved Line for sale as well.

There’s nothing better than a doer and that’s what you are. As a doer, you walk the walk, you talk the talk and out of the ashes has risen this beautiful flower and this product line in Violets are Blue. I congratulate you. I do see big thing for you in the future.

Thank you. That means a lot coming from you and what you’ve been through.

I will do everything I can in my power to have the Violets are Blue flag on top of the mountain. I appreciate your brother very much for connecting us and I appreciate you for all that you do and the people you’re helping. Best of luck with your beautiful company.

Mark, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and learning your story. You are an inspiration and what you’re doing is pretty incredible yourself. It’s an honor to spend this time with you and to meet you.

Thank you so much.

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