It’s no surprise that the founder behind fashion-forward medical mask brand, Evolvetogether, was created by a jewelry designer. The masks, developed by Cynthia Sakai, the founder of jewelry line Vita Fede, became synonymous with must-have PPE thanks to influencers and celebrities alike during the pandemic, (Anya Taylor-Joy, Rihanna, Serena Williams, and Angelina Jolie are the most recent A-listers featured wearing the masks on the brand’s Instagram feed). Now Cynthia is taking on beauty and personal care. This month the brand is launching a sustainable collection to include a Natural Deodorant, Refillable Hand Sanitizer, and Hydrating Hand Cream. CEW Beauty News caught up with Cynthia to talk about the transition from medical masks to personal care, reducing waste in the beauty industry, and her hope in becoming the go-to for luxe, earth-friendly daily essentials.

Beauty News: How did your popular medical masks pave the way for you to get into beauty?

Cynthia Sakai: Our everyday medical masks were (and continue to be) a big hit—we regularly sell out fast and have waitlists on the restocks. But, while we could have stopped there, we’ve always thought of Evolvetogether as a greater story, not just a single product. We’ve always seen ourselves as a daily essentials company doing good, and it’s resonated with our customers, too. They don’t just write us saying, “I love your masks!”—they’ll write “I love your masks and what you’re doing!” They trust us with their health and also to do good whether it’s using sustainable materials, supporting charities, or helping plant trees. In fact, together we’re planting an average of 300-plus trees every single day, with some days hitting upwards of 1,000.

So, it was really our customers who paved our way into other categories, including personal care. Not only were they enthusiastic about our mission, but they’d take the time to share their ideas with us. We regularly send customer surveys because we think it’s important to listen and grow alongside our customers—and we heard loud and clear that they were looking for better daily essentials, including personal care items, that matched our shared values of good quality, thoughtful and universal design, and positive impact.

What inspired Evolvetogether?

CS: I was living in NYC at the height of the first wave and saw how important wearing masks was in preventing the spread of Covid-19. But there were a lot of knockoffs, misinformation, and price gouging, and it was almost impossible to find a medical mask at an affordable price that actually worked. Cloth masks didn’t offer the same levels of protection and the medical masks that existed looked super clinical. We wanted to create an affordable, high-quality medical mask that made taking care of yourself and your community super easy so our team got to work and launched our first daily essential, the everyday medical mask.

Since then, we’ve been expanding that same mentality—quality, thoughtfully-designed daily essentials that make a positive impact on people and the planet—to a wider range of products and are so grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve received from stylists, celebrities, and countless customers who’ve joined us on our mission of doing good every day, together.

BN: How are you hoping to reduce waste in the beauty industry

CS: Our approach to sustainability (and reducing waste) is pretty simple: make well-loved products and make better choices every chance we get. We partner with socially and environmentally responsible factories. All of our personal care collection packaging is either recyclable, made from post-consumer waste, responsibly harvested FSC-certified paper, or is biodegradable. We even opted out of traditional boxes for our secondary packaging and designed lightweight, biodegradable, plant-based pouches that are sized to fit each product—and those can even be reused.

Our ultimate goal is to be zero waste (for example, our soon-to-be-released Hand Soap sheets use 100 percent dissolvable packaging and our Hand Sanitizer was redesigned with a reusable shell and forever-recyclable refill vials), and we’re taking meaningful steps toward getting there. But it’s not always a clear path, especially when it comes to making functional products. For example, we wanted a luxe biodegradable container for our Natural Deodorant, but if you’ve ever used a paper push-up style deodorant, you know that it eventually becomes unusable because the deodorant gets pushed down during application. So, even though the container is earth-friendly, you end up with wasted product and packaging. That’s why we added a small piece of recycled plastic and made it a twist-up design—a design that’s not only more accessible but also ensures you get to use the product for as long as it’s intended to be used for.

For lots of brands, stopping there would be enough. After all, it’s just a small piece of plastic. But we know every small action adds up—so we’re pushing ourselves to keep doing good and keep doing better, and by 2023 (or as sales volume allows), will be ready to make the switch to fully biodegradable plastics for any functional plastic parts we use, no matter how small—and are working on a mail-back program to wash and reuse parts!

BN: Where do you see the brand in five years?

CS:  In the next five years, we hope to become a full, 360-brand that includes our own retail, DTC, and new innovative ways to connect with our customers. We’ll keep expanding our collection with quality, thoughtfully-designed daily essentials that are environmentally friendly in the personal care, home and travel, health and wellness, and everyday clothing categories — but we’ll have new ways to shop and experience our products. For example, each of our products is stamped with its own global coordinates, and we’re looking to bring those places to life and build bridges between cultures and people through making them interactive!

Evolvetogether’s personal beauty care collection will retail between $21 and $23 and will be available on the company’s website.