It’s been raining for days but when I meet Lauren Bilon, founder of Plume Science, the clouds have finally lifted, and lift is what this beauty founder is all about. In 2014, the Alberta-based Bilon launched the first, 100% natural eyelash and eyebrow enhancing serum on the market, a healthy alternative to prescription glaucoma treatments commonly used off-label to thicken sparse hairs. “I literally just started making my own little prototypes in my kitchen,” she tells me, describing her DIY space as Breaking Bad-esque. After childbirth, Bilon’s fluctuating hormones caused her eyelashes to fall out en mass. The new mom turned to Latisse, and found herself suffering from discoloured eyelids and blurred vision, commonly reported adverse reactions to the drug.
Taking matters into her own hands, Bilon began tinkering with her own recipes until the fateful day she met Canadian chemist Irene Schnell, and that’s when her dream formula came to be. “I started having my own little under-the-table home job and I still hadn’t told my husband, because I didn’t want him to know how much money I was spending on botanicals and my little pipettes and scales and beakers,” she recalls with a laugh. Fast-forward to a refinanced mortgage, countless attempts at fulfilling regulatory cosmetic standards, one mishap including said hubby nearly mistaking the serum stocked in her fridge for a smoothie, and Plume finally became a legit hit (the user testimonies, backed by a 100% happiness guarantee, don’t lie.)
“Speaking with people who have used the product and can’t say enough good things about it, those are the moments that really hit home,” she says. Funny thing though, Bilon doubted the efficacy of natural products until the day she created her own. Today, she regularly consults Think Dirty, the Canadian product comparison app that’s often found in the hands of green beauty shoppers to ensure that products labelled ‘natural” truly are. “I scanned a shampoo that I used on my kids and I thought it was actually quite clean, but it was awful – it was the worst rating, a 10. For me, that was a huge eye opener,” she says. (For the record, Plume’s growth serum and the soon-to-be released eyebrow pomade boast a squeaky-clean rating of 0.)
As we wrap up our conversation and Bilon prepares for the upcoming in-store appearance she’s in Toronto for at The Detox Market, I ask her what advice she would give to others considering a beauty start-up of their own. “There are definitely roadblocks along the way, but if you keep plugging away and if you’re passionate, you can make anything a success,” she tells me. With several green beauty awards already in hand, it’s obvious that Bilon is no accidental entrepreneur, she’s a natural.—Emily Wraith.
Look out for Plume Nourish & Define Brow Pomade, available in 5 shades, at The Detox Market Summer 2017.