The Buzz caught up with two local entrepreneurs who recently launched new business ventures in the neighborhood.
It’s been said that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and that was certainly true for local resident and entrepreneur Kristen Wallace Tostado who created Social Paint, a line of natural and organic lip gloss that is certified gluten free, anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.
A few weeks ago, Tostado introduced her product to the neighborhood with a launch party at Picket Fences where it’s doing very well.
“We have received a really positive response to lip gloss by Social Paint! said Joane Pickett of Pickett Fences. “Everyone loves the colors and the fact the products are organic, non toxic, gluten free and SPF 15. We are so happy to support local business owner Kristen Wallace Tostado!”
Kristen was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2004 which prevented her from using most (if not all) of the cosmetic products on the market. It turns out gluten is in many products like shampoo, toothpaste, facial cleansers, lotions, shave gels, hairspray, soap and lip gloss. Because we unintentionally ingest lip gloss and it can be very harmful to people with Celiac disease, Tostado decided she would create something new that would work for her and others like her.
“It was really important for me to be transparent and get all the proper certifications,” Tostado told the Buzz. “I am really gratified that people are drawn to the product because of those certifications because it was a big undertaking to get them.”
The products are certified gluten free and 100% cruelty-free (Leaping BunnyTM certified) products are free of carcinogenic, hormone and endocrine disrupting ingredients, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, tricolsan, gluten, petrochemicals, and toxins. Social Paint uses only the safest non-nano zinc oxide to give the lip gloss an SPF 15 rating to provide protection from the sun and the environment. The zinc oxide is tasteless and odorless. Tostado’s website says the new company is “committed to the integrity of our natural formulas, the wellness of our valued customers, and health of our precious environment.”
Tostado has no experience doing this. “I’m green in a green industry!” she laughed. But she’s encouraged by the response her products have gotten. So far the most popular color is “Pucker” a creamy mauve that promises to look good on everyone, which is especially nice since it was the first color she started to develop. Now she’s working on getting her products in other stores around the city and the country. Soon, she’ll be launching her line in a store in Hingham, Massachusetts just outside Boston where her sister lives. But she’s really excited to have been invited to participate in the Indie Beauty Expo in New York this August as one of 300 small batch beauty brands introduced to retailers and beauty influencers. And to think it all started right here because she couldn’t find gluten free lip gloss.
Tostado has teamed up with local jewelry designer, Olivia Kazanjian for a summer trunk show called “Luscious Lips & Beach Bling Spree” Wednesday, June 6th. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org for location and hours. Or, next time you’re on Larchmont, stop in to see the collection at Pickett Fences.
By her account, this is Dr. Joanne Valli-Meredith’s third career, but it may be the most rewarding. Valli-Meredith recently launched BeyondAdmissions.com ™, an education service design to help students make the most of their college experience and a career launch component to help students get started in the workplace.
So many students and parents spend all their energy getting into college, they are simply not prepared for what do when their students encounter challenges or the school isn’t a good fit. Too often that means, they struggle, many develop depression and an increasing number just give up and drop out. That’s what happened to Valli-Meredith. She dropped out because she didn’t connect school with real life. So she dropped out and made a 17-year career in the clothing business. But she decided to go back. She ended up getting a Ph.D. in eduction from UCLA where she later joined the faculty where she served as Director of Evaluation and Educational Assessment at UCLA’s Office of Instructional Development and a became a lecturer of “Life Skills for College Men and Women” in the department of Community Health Science.
We met Valli-Meredith at Groundworks on Larchmont, she often meets her clients in coffee shops because many students are anxious talking about school and it feels friendlier and more relaxed. She said students that are lucky enough to have a personal support network with an understanding of the college experience often feel reluctant to ask for help for fear of disappointing family or friends and those with no personal support network frequently avoid asking for help for fear of looking like they do not belong. So she decided to start her practice to help students who are struggling to navigate services that might be available to them so they can take control of their education.
“I try to help students by walking them through problems and helping them identify a support network their school offers on campus,” explained Valli-Meredith.
Creating a network of friends and getting involved with others can really help a student who is struggling, explained Valli-Meredith. After the initial excitement of getting into college, comes the reality of going to school. She said she hears from parents who are looking to support their returning freshmen and sophomores.
“Students often lose confidence during their first two years of college, and the summer months can be used to generate excitement and a sense of purpose the upcoming academic year,” said Valli-Meredith. “We try to guide them so they become fully functioning adults that can help themselves.”
Through her years in academia, Valli-Meredith has become familiar with the structure of most colleges and universities so she can quickly direct students to resources they may not be aware of at their universities. She’s available by in-person or on-line to help students who may be out of town. Valli-Meredith formed her business as a benefits corporation founded on the principles of social entrepreneurship and civic engagement to demonstrate her commitment to working with students of all economic levels as well as doing pro bono work with students. She also offers scholarships to her workshops and offers a sliding fee scale as well.