Rather than kicking off with a full range of products, BITE Beauty focuses on doing one thing really, really well: lipstick.
This six-year-old business makes every one of its products by hand in their facilities in Toronto, using all natural ingredients, including essential oils that not only hydrate lips, but smell great. Founder, Susanne Langmuir, has a background in product development, working for companies that tasked her with traveling, sourcing and working with natural and organic products. Langmuir told Fashionista that one of the first products she actually developed on her own--18 years ago--was an organic face oil... which didn't sell. At the time, people questioned putting oil on their face (look at just how popular face oils are now). Nonetheless, she had the know-how to set sail on her own, though it was far harder than she anticipated, especially while pregnant with her first child.
Langmuir started by opening a fragrance store in Toronto, which she had used all her savings and every bank financing option to make a reality. The day the store opened, the lower level--of this fragrance store--flooded with sewage. And after three arduous months of trying to repair and reopen, she had to close its doors. She said:
It was a huge lesson that you can have all of the plans and all of the passion and think you have enough money and a really good idea, but sometimes you just get served with something that is beyond anything that could be visible.
A loyal lipstick wearer and proponent of natural and organic products, Langmuir later approached Sephora with the idea for a cosmetics line made from edible ingredients: Bite (Me, originally). Upon Sephora signing on board, the rest was sort of history... Langmuir partnered with them and worked through her idea and product mix to define what the product composition, branding and assortment would be, in order to best perform in the market. Ultimately, the decision was to laser focus on lips, to master one category that was timeless and universal to all wearers.
In developing BITE, Langmuir and Seophora were careful to avoid being crunchy with the natural/organic aspect, but rather create a brand that was both edgy and edible. BITE's formulations are in no way sub-par, though. The sustainability element of the business is an added benefit of an already incredible, high-quality product.
BITE beauty, after its acquisition by Kendo (LVMH's beauty incubator) in 2014, has grown exponentially. And now, you can visit their 'Lip Lab', here in New York's SoHo neighborhood, for a custom experience, which, naturally, I had to test out!
When you arrive for your appointment, you take a seat at the counter for a one-on-one with a BITE beauty expert. She'll instruct you to, first, exfoliate your lips (she even told me I could lick off the excess) and moisturize with the most amazing agave lip conditioner. Then, the fun begins. You start messing around with different shades that are cut and mixed in front of you--adding more rose/rhubarb or brown/mocha tones, for me, at least. We mixed and tried on four different colors before choosing what became my lipstick base, combined with a matte-finish balm and your choice of two essential oils (I went with violet-mint, but there were tons of options: coconut, citrus-mango, lime, vanilla, and more). The combo was loaded into the mold and set for just a couple of minutes. Finally, the bottom of the stick is set inside the applicator tube et voilà the lipstick is pulled from the mold, capped, boxed, and ready-to-wear a few minutes thereafter.