Former Sephora Product Developer Tiila Abbitt Takes On Conventional Cosmetics With Clean Beauty Brand Aether
Watch out Anastasia Beverly Hills, Kat Von D and Urban Decay. Aether Beauty is coming after your customers with a natural eyeshadow palette that doesn’t slack on performance.
The founder of the new brand, Tiila Abbitt, understands what’s involved in developing power-packed cosmetics, having worked Sephora for seven years, the last two as senior director for product development, before heading out on her own. She’s driven to take mainstream beauty trends to the green beauty segment without sacrifice beginning with the 12-shade Rose Quartz Crystal Gemstone Palette that’s, in a first for palette packaging, fully recyclable.
“A lot of brands don’t start with experience in beauty. As someone who knows how good conventional formulas are, when I go into a natural store like Credo, I want the same efficacy, and it’s not there,” says Abbitt. “I wanted to create a brand that’s cool and amazing instead of focusing on all the negative talk. There’s a hole in the market for someone to own this space.”
Abbitt decided to debut Aether Beauty with a palette because, although palettes are pervasive in the non-green makeup market, she’s underwhelmed by the palette selection in the natural arena. She’s sticking to one at the launch to keep inventory manageable money-wise, but has a follow-up palette on the release schedule for later this year and plans to eventually extend into foundation, primer, concealer, lip merchandise, mascara and more.
“I feel like there may be palette fatigue in general, but not for someone who cares about clean beauty because there isn’t a lot of options for clean-beauty palettes. It’s really boring, and I want to bring playfulness to it,” says Abbitt. “I want to bring some color and get people excited about what they see in a palette.”
“As someone who knows how good conventional formulas are, when I go into a natural store like Credo, I want the same efficacy, and it’s not there. I wanted to create a brand that’s cool and amazing instead of focusing on all the negative talk. There’s a hole in the market for someone to own this space.”
The Rose Quartz Crystal Gemstone Palette features ultra-matte, shimmer, duo-chrome and metallic finishes. Abbitt considered how consumers wear shadows when constructing it and instead of overloading the palette with dramatic shades that they sport only occasionally, she put in four dramatic shades and eight everyday shades. She piled extra shadow into the pans to make the palette have one-and-a-half times the shadow content of most 12-shade palettes.
“Everyone says that their palettes are day to night, but this is truly day to night,” asserts Abbitt. “It’s a romantic-feeling palette that you can layer. If you want a soft, subtle look or if you want to smoke it out with a cool chrome on top, you can do that. It’s all up to the client and how bold they want to be.”
The shadow formulas contain rose quartz gemstone powder for light-reflective and skin-enhancing properties, organic rose hip oil to boost glow, and organic coconut oil and organic shea butter for smooth textures. They sit in triangle- and diamond-shaped pans arranged to mimic a gemstone, and are housed in packaging with a three-dimensional quality that alludes to a gemstone as well. The palette is priced at $58, which Abbitt estimates is 20% above the average price of prestige palettes from conventional brands, due to the high cost of the ingredients in it.
Abbitt has a strong commitment to sustainability, and uses Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper and soy ink in the palette. “I took out the mirrors and the magnets so, when you’re done with your palette, you pop out the pans, and the whole thing gets recycled,” she explains. “The tagline for the brand is, ‘Supercharged Sustainable Beauty,’ and it’s a sustainable company and is sustainable with the packaging and the formula. I won’t do something unless it’s right for the client and for the earth.”
“The tagline for the brand is, ‘Supercharged Sustainable Beauty,’ and it’s a sustainable company and is sustainable with the packaging and the formula. I won’t do something unless it’s right for the client and for the earth.”
In its name and branding, Aether Beauty journeys beyond the earth to the entire universe. The name refers to the medieval concept of the cosmos. It’s the inspiration for ethereal digital imagery that’s a hallmark of Aether Beauty at the outset, particularly in Instagram posts crafted by Cosmic Collage. Also in collaboration with Cosmic Collage, Abbitt added an astrological element to the brand by placing a Tarot card inside each palette. There are six total that customers can collect.
Aether Beauty is kicking off with a direct-to-consumer model. “The problem with retail is that it’s difficult to make money, especially if you are a small brand. Retailers require really high margins, and you pay for everything,” says Abbitt. “I don’t have a lot of funding, and I would rather put my dollars to drive sales through social and PR.” Retail isn’t completely ruled out for Aether Beauty, though, and natural beauty stores have already come calling. Abbitt believes stores could be beneficial platforms for shoppers to check out product in-person and purchase without the environmental impact of shipping boxes to individuals.
No matter where Aether Beauty sells, Abbitt promises its products will deliver the payoff beauty shoppers are accustomed to from the big color cosmetics players at Sephora. “I want it to be a brand that people look to as the standard for clean beauty,” she says. “They might want a foundation that stays on longer than an hour and a mascara that really lifts and gives volume, and I want to be a brand that they come to for those products because they won’t have to give up anything in order to choose green beauty.”