Everyday Eleanor: I Turned My Passion Project into a Budding Beauty Empire

Just look at this woman... clearly she knows a thing or two about skincare (and sunscreen!). Tell me everything!
Just look at this woman… clearly she knows a thing or two about skincare (and sunscreen!). Tell me everything!

Elizabeth Dehn has your dream job. She’s magically figured out how to sample the best (and probably some of the worst) beauty products on the planet and get paid for it. Ugh! Lucky! She’s a beauty editor, kind of a big deal on Pinterest and her blog Beauty Bets is one of the most informative (and down to earth) pitstops on the web. That’s awesome and all, but I’m naming her this week’s Everyday Eleanor for taking the leap from beauty editor to product designer. That sort of transition comes with all sorts of pressure and expectations (and, as it turned out, some hard-earned lessons), but eventually, she’s helped create one hell of a skincare line with One Love Organics. It’s real good, guys. Here’s how she got there.

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So, were you one of those kids who started digging into Mom’s makeup bag as soon as you could reach the bathroom counter?  

YES. Though my mom is incredibly low-maintenance, she did rock the Bonne Bell cheek tint and Anais Anais perfume back in the day. I also spent hours playing with grandmother’s Aquanet, cold creams and retro-red lipsticks. 

You started Beauty Bets in 2009. Today there are so many blogs and sites dedicated to beauty products. What was the scene like then? How has it changed? 

Confession: I don’t read many beauty blogs. Kind of like I couldn’t watch The Office when I worked for a large corporation. But back then I definitely started the blog because I couldn’t find many that I wanted to read, that had an editorial voice and beautiful images like fashion and food blogs. There are definitely more today, but bloggers have gotten so much more visually-minded with the advent of Pinterest. It’s more about the pictures than the words, which keeps journalists like me on our toes!

You probably want to subscribe to her blog. 
You probably want to subscribe to her blog.

Don’t be modest, you’re kind of a big deal (and one of the most influential people on Pinterest. 5.7 million followers, but who’s counting!). Why do you think people connect so well with Beauty Bets?  

Ugh! I’m so bad at the self-promotion part. It doesn’t come naturally to most writers. But ironically I think that’s why BB has been successful. It’s relatable, not promotional. I’m only going to put out products and treatments I’d recommend to my best friend or my boss—not put out any old press release that comes across my desk. I also write only about topics that really interests me. More likely than not, whatever is on my mind is on the mind of my readers’, too. I’m not afraid to talk about real stuff, like sunspots, staying regular and depression. Those posts always resonate more than the eyeshadow color of the moment.

How did you make the leap from beauty editor to creating your own line of products? I wouldn’t even know where to start!  

Let’s be clear: I got really, REALLY lucky. One Love had been around for a few years when I met the founder, Suzanne LeRoux, because I was writing about her products. We really clicked, and emailed often about the indie beauty industry, ingredients, trends, observations, etc. One day she asked if I would be open to collaborating. The conversation started with us teaming up on a single, limited-edition product, but as you can see that sparked a full-fledged permanent collection that we will continue building upon. There’s no doubt in our minds that we were meant to do this work together.

Five bottles of awesomeness.
Five bottles of awesomeness.

Did you have a crystal-clear vision of what your One Love Organics line would look and feel like?

Yes, though the finished product turned out better than I could’ve imagined. I wanted to prove that when it comes to skincare, all-natural and highly effective needn’t be mutually exclusive. So often you get one without the other. It was also essential that the product look like a million dollars—timeless, without taking itself too seriously. I fully admit to choosing beauty based on packaging. That’s part of the experience; it needs to make me happy sitting on my vanity or bathroom shelf. Those were the criteria, and they were a tall order, but after a year of formulating, testing, and designing, we launched our first two products with a lot of pride. And of course we’re already tinkering and talking about how to make even better!

Looks as good on your face as it does on your shelf. 
Looks as good on your face as it does on your shelf.

Let’s talk hiccups (figurative, not literal). As an outsider, all I see is success, success and success. Were there some major hurdles along the way? Did you ever feel like quitting? What kept you going (and what did you learn from your mistakes)?  

Prior to teaming up with One Love Organics, I worked with a local manufacturer on a short-lived skincare line. I quit my job to focus on the blog and products, so when the manufacturer suddenly closed its doors, I was devastated. The good news is that I learned from that experience what my strengths are, and what I want and need in a business partner. One Love allows me to focus on what I do best—product development, branding, creative, marketing and pr—while they handle the nitty gritty like manufacturing, sales, supply chain. In all things, I believe in spending your energy on what comes naturally and hiring out the rest!

You’re known for reviewing beauty products, but now are on the production side of the equation. How has that changed your perspective?  

I’m as picky as ever! But also even more in awe of the indie brands who do what they do with so few resources. They are my heroes. I’m actually the hardest on my own products, which One Love would attest to with a loving eye roll. I have to be discriminating if I’m going to put my name on something. We don’t release anything that doesn’t make us literally jump up and down and scream aloud about. There has been more than one product left on the lab floor for this reason.

Technically, I am an adult. What are the three products I should probably be using everyday (aside from general hygiene items. I got that covered)? 

A good cleanser that’s gentle yet deep-cleaning, since clean skin is the foundation for all of the products you put on it. A facial oil or serum rich in plant oils (not water or alcohol) to feed your skin the moisture it needs and balance out your complexion. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Nothing ages us faster than the sun—I’ll forever be undoing the damage from the first 20 years of my life.

Advice for someone wanting to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality?  

Find good mentors. Ask for help and offer to help. Go easy on yourself. Celebrate the wins, no matter how small. Hire a cleaning lady!

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Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009 as a way to share candid product reviews and real beauty advice for smart women everywhere. When she’s not test-driving the latest beauty treatment (bee venom facial, anyone?) or serving as the beauty editor for Mpls. St. Paul Magazine and ClementineDaily.com, Elizabeth can be spotted running the Minneapolis Lakes with Mr. Bets and their white lab, Molly Thomas, or sipping champagne on a killer patio. Pass the sunscreen.

I want to hear your Everyday Eleanor story. Email me at heyeleanorproject@gmail.com.

Oh and PS, here’s the beauty tip that changed my life and cut my getting ready time in half. 

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