This Up-And-Coming Brand’s Bestselling Clean Mascara Has Received Credo’s Stamp Of Approval
“I am not your typical beauty brand founder. I was never a beauty executive. I’m not a celebrity or cosmetic chemist or anything like that,” says Tara O’Kelly, founder of TOK Beauty. “I began my beauty career as a receptionist at a salon, and I doubled as a makeup artist after losing my corporate job in oil and gas sales. I didn’t really know how to build a beauty brand, but, when I was applying makeup on myself and other women, I noticed something that was missing in the beauty industry.”
That something missing was clean cosmetics that didn’t require hours of watching YouTube tutorials for women daunted by makeup to be able to use. In 2017, TOK Beauty launched with magnetic lashes and magnetic eyeliner followed by mascara in 2018 originally intended to keep the magnetic lashes in place. Named Eyes That TOK, the mascara quickly became TOK Beauty’s bestseller. It contains a silicone wand designed to comb and coat lashes, and the ingredients horsetail plant and pea protein to strengthen lashes and prevent breakage, and bayberry fruit wax for a lasting hold.
“The mascara replaced the need for magnetic lashes,” says O’Kelly. “The magnetic lashes were nice if my customers were going out for New Year’s Eve or to a wedding, but, for their everyday routine, I learned they wanted to be more simple. That was the case for me, too. I’m just looking for a few key items to elevate my look.”
Now, TOK Beauty has entered clean beauty retailer Credo with Eyes That TOK, putting it in a merchandise mix with mascaras from Ilia, RMS Beauty, PYT Beauty, Westman Atelier, W3ll People, Juice Beauty and Kjaer Weis. Even among clean beauty devotees, mascara is a product they frequently stick with conventional beauty brands for because the performance of clean mascara has been lacking, but clean cosmetics brands are constantly improving mascara formulations and releasing new options. (See Kosås’s The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara and Pacifica’s Vegan Collagen Fluffy Lash Mascara.)
“Although mascara has been such a staple in the clean beauty space, we continue to be impressed by the progress and technology that continues to arise in this product category,” says Megan Lim, color merchant at Credo. “Mascara sales have always been strong at Credo, and customers tend to look to us for innovation. Tara’s mascara caught our eye because of her beautiful plant-based formula and unique flexible brush wand that grabs every lash in a way we haven’t seen before.”
“Tara’s mascara caught our eye because of her beautiful plant-based formula and unique flexible brush wand that grabs every lash in a way we haven’t seen before.”
At $23, TOK Beauty’s Eyes That TOK is on the cheaper end of Credo’s mascaras that run from $18 for PYT Beauty’s Swipe Right 12 HR Mascara to $58 for Westman Atelier’s Eye Love You Mascara. In total, TOK Beauty has five products—cleansing cloths Clean Slate, liquid eyeliner TOK The Line, eyelash curler Curl TOK and lip gloss Lip Tonic join Eyes That TOK in its collection—priced from $12 to $24.
“I wanted it to be accessible to many women if they were looking to switch to clean, but were intimidated by the high prices,” says O’Kelly. “When I first switched to clean, I was like, ‘Wow, that cream is $150!’ I wanted to make it more affordable.”
She describes TOK Beauty’s typical customers as busy moms and professional women aged 30 to 60 years old. They either have a bunch of beauty products and aren’t very comfortable wielding them or don’t have beauty products at all. O’Kelly says, “She’s focused on wellness, and she wants to take care of our herself and look better.” O’Kelly is constantly on social media providing beauty tips to TOK Beauty’s audience, and she’s gathered a group of 150 that she communicates with via email and Zoom to solicit feedback on potential products.
“It’s important for me to have an open dialogue,” says O’Kelly. “I always say, ‘My DMs are open. Feel free to message me.’ Makeup for me is part of my everyday beauty routine. Showing up for myself is important for my feeling of well-being, and I want my customers to feel that way, too.” She adds, “I like having a community of women involved in the creation process. It will take me longer to launch different products, but, when they do launch, they will be strong.”
“I wanted it to be accessible to many women if they were looking to switch to clean, but were intimidated by the high prices.”
O’Kelly dreams of TOK Beauty eventually having a complete arsenal of cosmetics products across blush, bronzer, lipstick, brow pencil and so on, but she insists the brand’s assortment will stay practical for makeup novices. “TOK Beauty is a curated line of hero products that are cleanly formulated with plant-based ingredients that actually do what they say will without overpromising anything. Transparency is key for us as is using sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients to make our clean formulations,” says O’Kelly, emphasizing, “I’m not just making products to make products.”
To place TOK Beauty in stores, O’Kelly, who’s in Calgary, did a ton of cold calling and showing up at retail locations she thought would be a good fit for the brand. TOK Beauty made its physical debut at The Vanity Vault, the salon O’Kelly was the receptionist at, and spread initially to Canadian clean beauty stores, including The Truth Beauty Company, The Green Vanity and The Green Kiss, before branching out to the United States at Selenite Beauty, Coral Story Beauty and Lena Rose Beauty. Last year, TOK Beauty appeared on QVC with magnetic lashes, which it has set aside for the moment.
“Credo is a big step for a company like mine. Getting into a major retailer like that really validates that what I’m doing is working,” says O’Kelly. Her secret to breaking into retailers is being confident in her product, persistent and crafty. She’s not afraid to experiment with various tactics to draw retailer attention. As an example, O’Kelly says, “I will give you maybe 10 free mascara to try and see how it does and, if it works out well, you can bring me in.”