Founder & CEO
LeiLani Kopp is a famous makeup and special effects artist who has worked on every major TV show and movie that came to Vancouver.
While working in the film and TV industry, she furthered her training in paramedical corrective makeup to establish her brand of eco-conscious makeup called Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics. The brand helps people address their health and skin conditions through gentler makeup.
Her journey was inspired by her volunteer work with cancer patients and burn survivors, where she realized she wanted to heal through makeup for the rest of her life.
A Passion for the Art of Makeup
“I’m going to be doing Grammy’s makeup and hair,” said LeiLani Kopp when she learned her grandmother had passed away. The then sixteen-year-old shocked her entire family with this statement, but she wanted to make her grandmother look beautiful at the funeral, and so she did. Growing up, LeiLani had always wanted to be a special effects makeup artist. She believed makeup and special effects were an art form and that she could bring solace to people through her art.
LeiLani now runs a health and beauty platform called Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics. The brand aims to help people with their health and skin conditions by providing them with gentle makeup infused with natural plant-based skincare. The platform also offers trustworthy advice from medical practitioners and skin specialists.
Moving Back to Vancouver from LA
Her passion for makeup eventually led her to Los Angeles, where she learned how to do special effects for two years by interning on movie sets and working with movie stars. However, life brought her back to Vancouver, where her career took an unexpected turn.
LeiLani wanted to explore career options as a mortuary cosmetologist, but she hit a roadblock when she realized that the profession didn’t exactly exist in the city then. She realized that she would instead have to become an embalmer, which wasn’t something that she wanted to do or was passionate about. So, for a while, she found herself navigating through odd jobs to gain her footing in the industry by becoming part of the union and gradually moving up.
Eventually, her persistence paid off, and she became a well-sought-after makeup artist in Vancouver, working on every TV series and Hallmark series that came to Vancouver, including Jump Street, Wise Guys, and MacGvyer.
Healing With Makeup
Kopp’s journey expanded when she volunteered with the Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program. Over there, she discovered that many makeup products cannot be used for patients with sensitive skin or allergies. As she came to this realization, she began extensive research and created a skincare cover camouflage that was highly effective for cancer patients and makeup artists alike. This became her catalyst for inspiring change.
“I had husbands crying and hugging me because their wives would go out in public again. It was just so heartfelt and warm that I couldn't let it go. I was like a dog with a bone. And I just kept at it and kept at it until finally they listened and started sending me people.” — LeiLani Kopp
Moved by the impact her work had on cancer patients, she wanted to expand her focus to help individuals who have gone through scarring or burns in life. There was some resistance from medical professionals, who believed that makeup was inconsequential, but LeiLani had faith in her vision, and through perseverance, there was a breakthrough.
Establishing an Ethical Cosmetics Brand
Throughout her journey, her passion for helping others pushed her in the direction of transforming lives through specialized makeup expertise. The joy stems from being able to help the patients heal through makeup and find the confidence to smile and go out in public.
While her passion for cosmetics drove her forward, LeiLani also had to teach herself everything from an entrepreneurial standpoint. She was learning as she was going. While there was a bit of naivety about the business world in the beginning, she did her due diligence and research. Navigating the intimidating world of accounting, cash flows, logistics, and manufacturing without formal training. All of these challenges only helped her become more motivated and dedicated to her cause.
LeiLani always knew she wanted her brand to be eco-conscious, which she found important from not only an ethical point of view but also a marketing point of view. So, she delved deeper into the world of makeup to find different product ingredients that would cater to people with allergies, autoimmune diseases, and other skin-related problems.
“There's a lot of conditions that people don't talk about, and I've been fortunate enough to work with a small team of doctors and pharmacists that also believe in that, and we're working together to create products that will aid and relieve some of these conditions.” — LeiLani Kopp
When working with pregnant women, people with lupus, and conditions like celiac disease, she realized the importance of considering what products certain individuals can use, particularly because some substances being absorbed into the body may affect their existing health conditions. Due to this, Leilani has broadened her understanding beyond just cosmetic products, and she was able to recognize the connection between product ingredients and health conditions while also remaining ethical throughout the supply chain.
From Wholesale Retail to E-Commerce Platform
Although LeiLani's brand has always had a traditional wholesale retail business model, she is now in the phase of building out a strong e-commerce platform to make it more accessible to all sorts of customers. The e-commerce platform will also roll out new products focused on menopause, perimenopause, and men’s skin issues. While it will continue to bring its loyal customer base a series of health blogs for all kinds of skin conditions and other diseases that affect appearance, with the help of a panel of doctors and pharmacists LeiLani collaborates with.
“I have always known how makeup transforms us on the outside. However, over the years, I’ve come to realize how makeup transforms us on the inside. It’s more than makeup. It’s therapy.” — LeiLani Kopp
LeiLani's growth and journey as a special effects makeup artist to someone who began to help people rediscover their confidence is inspiring on many levels. Her story depicts that our passions, no matter what they seem to those around us when we’re younger, can end up having a much greater impact than we anticipated.