Violets are Blue

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We are currently experiencing the grand shift of awareness in the beauty industry — where it is commonplace to read the backs of labels and ask where ingredients come from. It’s normal now for clean skin care companies to make functional, beautiful & chic products without consumers experiencing toxic residue both physically and energetically. Violets are Blue is an up-and-coming line that has a beautiful mission of bringing clean products to the world. The company gifts these products to those who are about to embark on treatment for healing cancer. Founder, Cynthia Besteman, had gone through cancer treatment herself, which led to her discovery of what was actually in her skincare and makeup products. This deadly and rampant disease has touched so many of us, yet it is because of companies like these that bring more hope to people to feel beautiful and take care of their health at the same time. 

PRODUCT EXPERIENCE

Beauty deodorant - This definitely has a traditional deodorant “feel”, but free from aluminum and contains 6 odor neutralizing essential oils (Lavender, Orange, Lemongrass, Tea Tree, Yarrow, and Coriander). It’s great to just throw in your bag and for a post-gym refresher under your arms. 

Face Serum - Just a great basic to have. It contains the classic: Evening Primrose, Argan, Rosehip Oil, Jojoba, and a handful of essential oils such as Carrot Seed and Lavender. It’s soothing, simple and gentle. My favorite is to keep it in the shower and let the steam penetrate my skin and then rub the oil on my face. 

Foot Salve - This was my absolute favorite product. I was having issues with my dry skin, and it wasn’t pretty.  Filled with nourishing oils like olive and sunflower, I would apply it to my feet on the regular throughout the day and noticed a big difference. I rarely get dry feet anymore and I love that it made my feet smell like peppermint. It’s great especially for when the weather is dry. 

Q&A with Founder Cynthia Besteman of Violets are Blue

Q: What is Violets are Blue & why did you you start the line? 

A: Violets Are Blue is a small batch, boutique face and body line created using only the finest ingredients. After I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2011 with no family history, clean eating and healthy lifestyle I was shocked by the diagnosis. It started me down a path of looking at outside factors and the one that surprised me the most was how toxic my "natural" skin care was! The business started out of the need to provide safe skin care to women who are not only undergoing cancer treatment, also for but women who want to live healthily and not worry about what they are putting on their skin, which happens to be our largest organ. 

Q: What was the process like of finding out you had breast cancer to then cleaning out your home? Was it intuitive? Were you resistant? How did it feel? 

A: I went on a mad tear when I found out about toxins in our home goods and products!! I literally went through our apartment and dramatically threw out: plastics, rugs, pillows, sheets, blankets, bath and body products, you name it!! My husband just scratched his head and let me do what I needed to do. I think I had it all cleared in a day. The products coming back in the house were thoroughly researched and proven safe. I think this was quite cathartic for me after my diagnosis. It helped me feel like I was taking back control of my life which you lose a little with a cancer diagnosis.

Q: How did you begin to learn about developing a product line? Were you making your own ingredients already?

A: I was very lucky when I was diagnosed as my husband, who happened to be my business partner in real estate told me to take time off and focus on my health. This included doing Reiki, acupuncture, yoga etc and it so happened that a class taught by the amazing Marla Bosworth on "how to make your own skin care" was starting a few blocks from my house. The minute I started the class I knew this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Marla became a mentor and introduced me to a bio chemist who helps me with the formulas and sustainability testing. At the same time I was doing all of this, I met women in treatment who weren't able to take time off work, or had the energy to stand in the drug store reading labels. This is where the idea came up to create a line for women in treatment. To give them one less thing to worry about when going through treatment, and to focus on being healthy, rather than being sick.

Q: When sourcing, was it difficult to find a clean source? How to you mitigate sourcing with the environmental problems of unethical harvesting? 

A: Research, research, research. I choose people to work with whom I know have the same ideals and vision as myself, be it an oil company, paper company or an employee of mine. Luckily, the green movement is growing, and finding clean, organic sources is not as difficult as it once was. I also don't have an issue paying a premium for these clean ingredients as I know what is at risk. I make sure everywhere we source from has a stamp of approval from not only an outside source, but by people in the industry as well, who's opinion I trust.

Q: Why did you name the line Violets are Blue?

A: This is a question I get a lot and I wish I had a cute answer! The truth is, when I was in my 20's I decided that one day I would have a company and it would be called Violets Are Blue. I had no clue what type of business it would be, and skin care was not even on my radar! Looking at the name now, it couldn't be better because when one is diagnosed with breast cancer we are inundated with pink. A color I have come to quite dislike. Violet is a MUCH better color for breast cancer patients as it doesn't scream "you have cancer" at you. It's a nice diversion! We also use violet glass for our Signature line, and, oddly enough, the glass came after the name!

 

Q: What kind of treatment did you do to heal your cancer, and what did you find was the most helpful treatment? Do you engage in any follow up treatment to this day that you would recommend to others? 

A: I did the standard treatment for women with my type of breast cancer, which consisted of lumpectomy, six weeks of radiation and five years of tamoxifen. I also did acupuncture, reiki, massage, yin yoga, and did as much exercise as I could. I see my doctors every six months and now that I am at five years post diagnosis, it will drop to once a year. They have amazing gene testing now to really tailor your treatment, and where I was treated, the Dubin Breast Center, they implement many other "non western" treatments as well, which many women take advantage of. I  will continue to see my doctors so in case there is a recurrence, I will have my team ready to go. This way my fear of a recurrence is greatly reduced because I know they have my back. 

Q: Describe to us a day in your life? 

A: A "perfect" day would be starting out with a run in the park with my best friend or playing pickleball with my husband (google pickleball, it's amazing!). It's a great way to start the day and gets me clear headed. I then get to orders that have come in overnight which means filling and packaging. I love this as it is very meditative for me. I fill every bottle with intention, and pack each box with that particular person in mind hoping that good intention makes it all the way to them. Once a week I personally deliver packages to Mount Sinai where we donate our products to women on their first day of chemo. On a nice day, I'll walk back through Central Park. I'll spend the rest of the day answering emails, getting wholesale orders together, and work on social media. The day ends with a nice meal out (I'm not a cook!) and hanging on the couch with David. I say a "perfect" day because owning a business, you end up putting out a million fires, like your bottles showing up to your warehouse broken or your printer going on the fritz, you realize you are totally out of shipping labels, or a wholesaler needs something added to an order you just sealed up! Half the things you plan on getting done don't! (including that nice dinner!)

Q: What keeps your balanced?

A: My husband David! He has been such a great support system. He has cheered me on since the day I started, and on days where I am reduced to a puddle of tears he says "just one foot in front of the other" and you'll get there, and he is right. He also is great at making me laugh at the worst of times. I also have an amazing set of girlfriends who want nothing but the best for me and I for them. We do last minute weekend get-a-ways or wine filled dinners when needed, and, my family rocks! I can call anyone of them at a time of stress and they talk me off the ledge!! They help me keep things in perspective. 

Q: What is your grand vision for the company? 

A: World domination!! Seriously, I would love to see it go global and to see my BeLoved Line in hospitals around the world. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my products in stores and I still can't quite believe it when I do. Donating will continue to play a big part of who we are. The bigger we get, the more donations we will give to women undergoing treatment for cancer. Right now we are only at Mount Sinai in NYC, but I hope to see more come into play as the company grows. At the end of the day, the emails I receive from women who have been given the BeLoved package, either from a friend or a hospital is what keeps me going. I sob at each one!

Founder Cynthia Besteman delivering products from her "Beloved Line" to a  patient at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC

Founder Cynthia Besteman delivering products from her "Beloved Line" to a  patient at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC

Q: What makes for a super life? 

A: Authenticity. A super life is not a perfect life wrapped in a bow. As long as I am living life as my true self, whether it be enjoying pancakes, or climbing a mountain, as long as I am in the moment, that is what is super. As I get older, I realize it is small moments that make a life, and that you have to appreciate those small moments,  When you are faced with a disease that kills many people, you realize it's those moments that you worry about losing. I also shed a lot of how I wanted people to perceive me and showed them who I truly was. I allowed people to see my vulnerabilities and fears. It's very freeing! 

Originally from Seattle, Cynthia came to New York to work as a broadway actress and successfully transitioned to a career in Real Estate where she was a top broker in her firm, all before starting Violets Are Blue in 2013. She currently lives on the UWS (Upper West Side, NYC) with her husband David and their rescue cat Lola. 

Alexa Gray