It may sound like an unimaginable leap to some, but Lindsey Arnold did just that when she went from building robots to launching her beauty site, Velvet Report.
Fueled by her passion to help others, Arnold, who has a master’s degree in human-centered design and engineering from the University of Washington, developed her own robotics company and began building a robot that would serve as an emotional, intelligent companion for children with anxiety. Her design placed second in an international competition, but Arnold still was uncertain how to turn her idea into a long-term, viable business.
It was then that Arnold, a longtime vegan and aficionado of cruelty-free beauty, turned her focus to vegan beauty. In September 2016, she started an Instagram account to gauge women’s interest in vegan beauty and was amazed by the response.
“The response was really quick and amazing. Yes, people want this. They want to know what is in their products,” Arnold said.
The 33-year-old Bellevue resident began reaching out to beauty brands she knows and loves to see if she could begin selling their products and, in June 2017, launched velvetreport.com. She purchases the beauty products at wholesale and resells them in elegant, curated boxes. No subscription is required, and a portion of all sales is donated to Cruelty Free International, an organization that works to end animal experiments worldwide.
Arnold also is selling her own line of skin-care products, developed in partnership with Handmade La Conner in La Conner, and just launched the new French Beauty Set. Products in the set (priced at $75) include the company’s signature Velvet Report Micellar Water, Velvet Report Floral Toner, and Velvet Report Face Moisturizer.
All the products promoted and sold on velvetreport.com are vegan (free of animal ingredients), cruelty-free (no animal testing), nontoxic, and plant-based.
Arnold said the bulk of her sales, to date, have come from Instagram. She also has a YouTube channel that offers education and tutorials, a blog, a private vegan Facebook group, and a weekly email newsletter.
“It has really been, for me, about running small experiments this year to see: What do people want? What’s working? Just trying to stay really nimble and not overcommit to one strategy until I’ve figured it out,” Arnold said. “And I think the thing that has surprised me and has been working really well is building this community. That’s where I’ve been putting my efforts.”
Longer-term, Arnold said she is interested in eventually bringing her own product line to retail and launching a Bellevue-based beauty cafe to sell her products.