Most skin care products are filled with icky chemicals, and when Cynthia Besteman was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was inspired by her fellow women to create heathy and luxurious products that fit easily into all women’s lives. She founded the skincare company Violets are Blue, and with the help of a biochemist, an herb farmer, and a cancer researcher, Besteman has created a one-of-a-kind “Chemo Care” line. With an eye for sustainability, Violets are Blue uses only the best ingredients and never tests on animals. We are so honored to feature Violets are Blue as one of our vendors at this December's BUST Magazine Holiday Craftacular & Food Fair!
Read on to learn about Besteman's incredible journey...
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Cynthia Besteman and I am the founder and CEO of Violets are Blue. I make all natural and organic skin care which is designed to be safe enough for people going through chemotherapy. I am based in NYC.
How did you get started?
In 2011, at the age of 46, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. I had no family history, ate well, exercised, didn’t smoke and rarely drank. As I went through treatment, I met many women who were in the same position. In fact, breast cancer is sometimes referred to as an epidemic. If this is true, something has changed in our lives to cause it. One thing women have in common is we use a variety of skin products, many of them expensive, widely-marketed oils and creams, and when I began researching what was in those products I was shocked! Read the ingredients yourself – you’ll find that even those products marked “natural” contain things like parabens, chemicals and dyes. I realized I needed to go back to basics and design my own skin care products made from all-natural ingredients and essential oils. This meant researching oils and herbs to find just the right ones to help women deal with issues like crepiness, cellulite, and aging skin.
Women going through cancer treatment experience additional problems, with dramatic changes in their skin, nails and sense of smell. Thus was born the creation of a “Chemo Care” package, a gift to women as they begin treatment to give them peace of mind about what they are putting on their bodies. I found the best oils, butters and hand-picked herbs to meet their particular needs.
During this long process, family and friends became my personal testers, offering comments that evolved from “this smells like dirt” and “this feels like cottage cheese” to “This is amazing! Can I get some?” Through them I realized the products would not only benefit women going through treatment, but all of us who are experiencing the effects of urban environments and the aging process on our skin. A biochemist who is also an herb farmer, cancer researcher and teacher collaborated on the formulas and used her expertise to test for perfection and sustainability. Violets are Blue was born – beautiful, natural products to help us all feel our best.
What's inspiring you right now?
I currently donate product to women being treated for breast cancer at Mount Sinai. The women there inspire me with their positive attitudes and fighting spirit. (as do the doctors, who are amazing.)
When I am in my workshop, I listen to my favorite music, and I whenever I am there listening to music, filling packages, I feel the happiest.
I LOVE great stage acting and see as much as I can, and I am continually inspired my family. I know that sounds cliche, but when you get sick, as I did in 2011, you realize how important they are and when they rally around you, you realize how important you are to them.
Any advice for those starting out in the handmade industry?
Just put one foot in front of the other and you will get there. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing but I knew I wanted to do it. Each day, I gave myself 3 things that I would do that day. This way the "big picture" did not get to be too overwhelming. You also should know what your weaknesses are and don't be afraid to ask for help. It's amazing what people will do for you if you ask. also, never stop learning. Take every seminar, course, lecture you can.
What are you most looking forward to at the BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair this year?
I am SO EXCITED to talk to people face to face about my products. I am web based so you don't get the interaction with your client that you do at fairs. While I am not selling, I will be eating all the amazing food, checking out and supporting the other amazing vendors and petting those puppies!!
Check out Cynthia's work, as well as the amazing wares of over 250 handmade, vintage, and fancy-food vendors, at the BUST Magazine Holiday Craftacular & Food Fair.
It's all taking place on Saturday, December 14th and Sunday, December 15th at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street, at 6th Ave.) in N.Y.C. The Craftacular will run from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM both days.