How I Made It

Brandi Leifso, Sustainable Beauty Brand Founder

Brandi Leifso is the founder and CEO of sustainable beauty brand Evelyn Iona—which she launched while living in a women's shelter. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Brandi Leifso; @brandileifso

How do you describe your job to your family? 

My mission with Evio is to break stigmas in an effort to create a more conscious future. I’m really passionate about social change and makeup is just the tool for how to get there. Whether that’s through our Evio Community content space or by donating $1 of every product purchased to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, everything I do with Evio Beauty is done with intention and purpose.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I left the school system when I was 14. I found my education by diving into the real world with both feet and finding the right people to teach me, guide me and lead me.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

When I was 14, I got a job as a restaurant hostess. I didn’t make it past three months.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it? 

I created *my own* big break when I conceived the idea of Evelyn Iona. Then a store actually ordered some of my products and that lit a fire under me to keep things going.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten? 

“Don’t trust anyone.” Worst. advice. ever.

When you’re feeling low about your work, what’s the one thing you always do/watch/read/listen to bring yourself back up again? 

I go for extra-long runs while listening to rap music because it helps me focus on the solution, not the problem. I’m a wartime CEO, which means I perform best under pressure. Rap reminds me how to get scrappy. Also, my best friend, April the pug, is always my go-to spiritual gangster when I need a moment.

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

I want to be recognized for Evio’s growth and the value that I add to the conversation, not because I am a woman. Let’s have genderless conversations based on merit and skill.

Have you ever asked for a raise? If so, how did you phrase it and did you get it? If not, why not?

I barely paid myself for the first three years, and I hustled and skimped where I could. Sometimes I sold my furniture—or even my next meal—to pay for more lip gloss stock. But here is what I have learned from that: don’t take a permanent solution for a temporary problem, sacrifice is necessary and everything changes when there is more money involved.

Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?

From being approached to write my memoir to working on the new developments for our cannabis skincare line, I have so many things to look forward to. Our mission is to break stigmas to create a more conscious future—and there is nothing in life that excites me more than that.

What worries you the most about your career?

My biggest worry always is that I might let someone down because I have my blinders on, working on my own goals.

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