Cheryl Yannotti Foland moved to the American West Coast kicking and screaming.
“I never thought in a million years this New Yorker would leave her family behind,” she says, “and move out to California where everyone goes with the flow, is too nice, and stops to say good morning.”
Estée Lauder. L’Oreal. Chanel. Laura Mercier. They’re the prestigious cosmetics brands Foland worked closely with before transferring to the Bay Area in 2006 to run West Coast operations for Arcade Beauty. She tapped into the California market—one that was seeing a renaissance in the form of brands like Urban Decay, Two Faced, Benefit Cosmetics, and Bare Minerals. Foland promised her employer that she would spend two years in the Sunshine State, but then it would be back to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
Not everything in life goes according to plan, though—and sometimes that is actually for the best. “When I was set to go back to New York,” Foland says, “I had completely fallen in love with my new life. I knew I was never going back.”
Although croissants and strawberries line the table at Colette Grand Café inside Holt Renfrew Vancouver, most of this morning’s freshness comes courtesy of Foland’s radiance. She is happy, and it can be seen all over her face as she talks to gathered guests about the beginnings of her makeup brand, Lilah B., a streamlined colour collection of luxurious, multi-purpose products.
Because while she didn’t want to move to California, it is the place that ended up changing everything. “I adopted a healthier, minimalist lifestyle,” Foland says of her Bay Area experience. “One that had a better balance.” She fussed with her hair less, she didn’t feel the need to buy every season’s hottest handbag, and she did not wear as much makeup. Foland’s philosophy became “less is more”—three words that have subsequently become the backbone of Lilah B.
During her years in the industry, Foland saw a problem she wanted to fix: there was an overwhelming amount of clutter in a woman’s makeup bag. “I recognized there was a need for something simpler for the modern-day woman,” she explains. Lilah B.’s beginnings stemmed from three objectives. First, Foland was tired of spending money on products with unattractive packaging, so she created sleek and modern compacts: “something you could pull out of your handbag at lunch with girlfriends and feel proud about.”
Next, she wanted a collection that was clean, so she began working with chemists in Milan, crafting vegan and cruelty-free formulas. “I wanted all the bad stuff out,” she says, explaining that the brand’s ingredients are pulled from the earth and sea, rich in aloe and agar. Not only are these products nourishing and moisturizing, but they are also free of gluten, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances.
“And last but not least,” she says, “what I think is the icing on the cake is really what’s part of our true DNA: the minimalist approach of the brand.” Every item in the line is two, three, four, if not five products in one. Foland cheekily notes that she is only wearing three things today: the creamy and hydrating Virtuous Veil Concealer and Eye Primer, the soft Bronze Beauty Bronzer Duo, and the Divine Duo Lip and Cheek, which she gently has blended over her lips, cheeks, and eyes. Indeed, she glows.
Canada is the three-year-old brand’s first international stop, and in Holt Renfrew’s Beauty Hall, Lilah B. has already set up near some of the high-end brands Foland once worked with. “It’s been a labour of love,” she admits with a smile. A handwritten note is sent home with each guest she meets this morning, a gesture that is reflective of Lilah B.’s less is more attitude. It’s about doing fewer things with greater care.
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