The dictionary describes a canvas as a background used for the purpose of creating artwork. This background allows you to take a space and make it stand out. For many of us, we become our own canvas, using various colors and shades to create looks that enhance our natural beauty. For Ashley Lee, founder of the vegan-friendly beauty brand, Canvas Colors, this means so much more than simply being “Beat to the Gawds.” Canvas Colors has a much deeper meaning.

Born in North Carolina, Ashley has always found it important to separate herself from what others considered to be “conventional.” Following her own diagnosis of endometriosis, Lee decided to focus on more natural solutions to replace the less healthy options that she had been exposed to before. She had always been mindful of what she put into her body but it was through her increasing knowledge about the effects of the things that we put on to our bodies, that helped her to birth what is now Canvas Colors.

Canvas Colors features high quality, long-lasting lip wear in a wide array of gorgeous color that don’t just look good on you, they are good for you. With such a strong focus on being eco-friendly, Lee has made all of her shades both soy and gluten-free, as well as non-toxic with the smooth moisturizing effect of shea butter. She believes very strongly that every woman deserves to feel beautiful, and has made both health and beauty her top priorities with Canvas Colors.

What inspired you to do an eco-friendly beauty line?

I decided to develop the line because of my own personal health diagnosis. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and uterine fibroids in the latter half of 2018, so I started to become more aware of the foods that I ate, and the products that I used. Sometimes we’re not aware of how things are made, and how their process and certain toxins that may be present can affect our personal health and well-being. I thought to myself, ‘I can’t be the only person that’s experiencing this,’ so I wanted to create something that would be helpful to others who may be experiencing the same thing or even with a different illness.

Have you had any challenges with promoting a vegan-friendly line in the beauty space?

I feel like when you are promoting anything when you’re new, there is going to be a challenge when you are making yourself known. For those that are aware of their bodies and what they put into it, it can be a little easier, but I also know that whomever I am called to, is who will subscribe to it. I just didn’t know what I was putting into my body, and I feel that once people become more aware, and they’re more conscious of the products that they use and how their bodies can be affected, it begins to translate.

So, what would you say is the mission of Canvas Colors?

Well, I have two things that I would like to become a reality. First and foremost is that I would like for people to become more aware of their personal well-being, and to know there are products out there that will not cause any harm to you or to the environment. With Canvas Colors, everything has been created with the customer and the environment in mind, even down to the packaging. The product itself is non-toxic and every aspect of the packaging is biodegradable, so even after its discarded it’s going to break down in a way that’s not harmful to the environment. Another equally important part of my mission is that I want to see Canvas Colors grow into major retailers so that I can expand into other areas. This would allow me to provide jobs and to help others that are in underserved communities. I would like to provide them with resources so that they can put their best foot forward and go after their dreams and serve their communities.

As far as the colors go, is there any particular color that your customers can’t get enough of?

There are two glosses that people just seem to love and they are Bubbly and Ice Wine! With Bubbly, once it got out there and singer Lil’ Mo wore it and then Heather B. of SiriusXM wore the Ice Wine, it went crazy and people loved those colors and they’ve been flying off the shelf! Then we have this shade called Merlot and it is this beautiful red, kind of like a wine, and it will be perfect for everyday wear. Also, Red Carpet, which has been growing like crazy is the perfect shade of red for going out for cocktails with the girlfriends, or if you’re going on a date with a special guy.

What would you say is next for Canvas Colors?

Well, in focusing on the fall, and noticing how trends have a tendency to come back around, we’re focusing on blending those Fall-like colors with glosses because we realize that many women love those blends. 

It seems that your focus is on enhancing the natural beauty in those that use Canvas Colors. How would you describe natural beauty in your own words?

To me, natural beauty is about who you are as an individual, and that comes from within. There seem to be certain groups of individuals that are not necessarily recognized as beautiful, and the focus seems to be on a few select looks in the beauty industry. I want everyone to know that they’re beautiful. Sometimes we have to use our own filters and sift through what is real and what is not. We are all beautiful canvases, and you have the right to decide how we will present your canvas to the world. There is a place for all of us. 

Before you go, please leave us with one of your favorite beauty tips.

If I had to choose just one, I would have to say take good care of your body and your skin. When you visit to shop for your next favorite shade, you will find a quote that reads, “Canvas Colors represents those who don’t ascribe to society’s views of beauty. They look in the mirror and see beauty.” 

For more on Canvas Colors, click here!

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All images by Chris Charles Photography