More than skin deep: behind the scenes with Aleph founder Emma Peters

31 March 2022
By Fashion Quarterly

Aleph's cruelty-free, vegan range provides a beautiful solution to common make-up concerns.

Emma Peters.

I can say that for me, the path was clear to develop my own products. I’m not sure there was one defining moment when I thought I’d start my own range. My mother and stepfather were involved in the TV industry in Canada, so as a kid, I spent a lot of time in the make-up room on set. I was astounded to realise that this was a job, so from then on playtime revolved around [make-believe] beauty salons and recreating ’80s music videos. [As an adult] I’ve always enjoyed helping people choose the very best products, so it was natural to put my knowledge and experience into one place and create a range that encompassed my values to provide the very best. 

Aleph Beauty is a smaller range than conventional brands and this is by design. Everything is intended to work synergistically together to give the wearer many more options while minimising waste. People’s make-up concerns are vast, but there are a few common issues that I’d hear time and again. Make-up overwhelm was a common thread — people being confronted with wall-to-wall make-up and not knowing how to make a selection. Another issue I saw clients faced with was worrying that they didn’t look like themselves when made up for an event, for instance. Then the issue of wanting clean make-up but being let down by its performance. We launched with a curated range of just eight SKUs that I worked on for the best part of a year to formulate, iterate, fine-tune and test until they landed exactly where I wanted them. There was a lot of study, research and development on the sidelines for many years leading up to this.

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Being kind to people, the planet and animals is the filter through which we make all the decisions for the business. It’s a constant weighing up to ensure we’re doing right by all three. We’re a cruelty-free and vegan brand, because it’s my firm belief that no animals should be harmed in the name of beauty, and this includes not using animal-derived ingredients in our products. We strive for a circular system with our packaging, opting for infinitely recyclable materials such as glass and aluminium, and offer a take-back system for all of our packaging, so we can ensure each component reaches the appropriate reuse, repurpose or recycling stream. 

I’m hands-on with our product development. I look at every ingredient carefully and assess whether it meets our criteria. I develop our products in house with our chemists, and test the function at every step among our team and community to ensure we land in the right place with function and formulation. [Using natural ingredients] definitely keeps the challenge up. There are standard ways that items have been created in the past, but we’re innovating with ingredients and function and packaging all at once, which means it can take longer for the perfectly created product to come to market or that we iterate as we find newer and better ways of doing things. One thing’s for sure, it’s rarely straightforward and never boring.

As people are becoming conscious about what they eat, it’s extending to what they wear. It’s now common knowledge that the skin is absorbent and we need to treat it well to avoid a build-up of potentially damaging chemicals, and do it good over the long term. It’s an exciting time in which specialised, natural ingredients are becoming increasingly available. There’s a far greater emphasis
on naturally derived cosmetic ingredients than there was even four years ago when we started, and we’re constantly at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies in the natural realm. I’m always looking out [for people wearing my products]. And, yes, most of the time I can spot an Aleph glow!

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