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When Wende Zomnir co-founded Urban Decay in 1996, there was no Instagram or TikTok, and Sephora was still two years out from entering the U.S. Fast forward to today, she recently wrapped up her tenure at Urban Decay, in December, and has re-entered the beauty startup game with a new brand, Caliray. Since Zomnir launched Caliray in 2021, it entered Sephora in 2022 and just secured a Series A round of funding in February this year. In the episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast, Zomnir discusses what’s different about launching a beauty startup in 2022, compared to the ’90s. And with Earth Day this Saturday, she goes into detail about the brand’s sustainable packaging innovations, including its new compostable bamboo eyeshadow palette.
Entering Sephora then and now:
“When I started with 31 SKUs [with Urban Decay], I got a three-bay gondola. And now [with Caliray], I have probably 30 [products] now, and I have a shelf on the clean endcap, which I’m thrilled to have. I feel so lucky. Sephora and indie brands are always going to go hand-in-hand; they’re always looking [to offer] discovery.”
On her approach to sustainable packaging:
“It forces you to be really creative because … you can’t make things shiny and bright if you’re doing really sustainable packaging. We try to take an approach of, ‘How can we make this product as fun and engaging as possible while maintaining our sustainability credibility?’ … With the palette, we looked at post-consumer recycled plastic, then we looked at mixing it with this sand process that would extend the plastics — you’d use less plastic and could make it more recyclable again. And then we looked at alternative materials to make it out of, and finally, we ended up settling on the bamboo for lots of different reasons. But what’s cool about the bamboo palette is that you can pop your pans out and you can break that thing up with a hammer. Then I threw mine in a Lomi and made dirt out of it, and then planted a plant in it.”
Getting the word out about sustainability:
“We work with sustainability influencers. At the same time, we work with a lot of beauty influencers and provide them with the information [about our sustainable approach], along with putting the info on our website and talking to customers. Our point of view on sustainability is that we approach it as a joyful experience. So we don’t want it to be all gloom and doom, like, ‘You better be sustainable, or the planet is going to end.’ We try to make it more like, ‘Hey, we all know sustainability is important. Here’s an easy, fun way to participate.'”