Ima Asali | Founder, Mellow Cosmetics

Ima Asali | Founder, Mellow Cosmetics

Ima Asali on starting her own (cruelty-free and paraben-free) make-up line and her beauty routine.

An idea that was sparked while watching a YouTube make-up tutorial has now translated into a brand that is making waves beyond New Zealand borders. Meet Ima Asali, the face and brain behind Mellow Cosmetics—a cruelty-free, vegan, and paraben-free make-up brand.

The Persian Kiwi has lived in Auckland, New Zealand for the most part of her life. With a background in business management and HR, she worked for a few years in the industry before her first son was born. “Once Ario was born, I felt there was a close bond between us, and I did not want to leave him at daycare to go back to work, so I decided to stay at home and take care of my son.” And one day, when the thought of starting her line of cosmetics floated in her mind, there was no looking back.

“From then on, I didn’t settle. I had to make it work.”

But it wasn’t easy. One of the biggest challenges she faced was to launch the right products and find the right manufacturer for her products. “I wanted to be able to create top-quality products, and it took a few months of research, but I managed to find the perfect lab to work with.”

Six months later, Ima had created her first products—baked eyeshadows and lipsticks. Boom!

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What inspired you to start a vegan and paraben-free makeup line?

Customers are a lot more curious (and cautious) about what goes in their products before purchasing, which is why I decided to make Mellow—a cruelty-free, vegan, and paraben-free brand. Even though we want to manufacture and sell makeup, we do not want to hurt our fur babies in the process, and our customers love this about us. We also try to reduce the nasty chemicals that go into our products so being paraben-free was key for us!


What have been some of the biggest challenges of building your business?

At the beginning, there was a lot of pressure, as sales were slow and we only had my husband’s income to run the household and keep the business going. This was a major challenge for us, but I decided to stick to it and keep going and hoped for the best. As I learnt more about ways of marketing my products, the sales started increasing and we overcame a lot of challenges. Another challenge was that we were new in the industry and I had to learn everything from scratch, and I made a few mistakes until things started going in the right direction.


How do you stay on top of it with your business while juggling personal life?

It’s hard to stay on top of it all these days, as I have the business, two babies, and a household to run. But over the years, I have learnt to prioritise and plan my day ahead. I write down notes of what needs to be done first, and I tick as I go along. This helps me get through everything that needs to be done and I also don’t forget anything. Of course, sometimes I have to work through the night after the babies are asleep, but you gotta do what you gotta do to keep the business going.

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Your skincare and beauty routine?

I begin my daily beauty routine with cleaning my face with Dermalogica Facial Cleanser and then apply sunscreen. Most days, I skip primer and foundation, as I have a sensitive skin. I use foundation (Dior) on days that I need to leave the house for meetings, etc. Then go over with a setting powder to set my foundation and use the Mellow  Cosmetics Bronzer to give my face a summery glow. I then use the Mellow Cosmetics Peach Blush and a small amount of highlighter for a fresh look. I do my brows with the Mellow Brow Definer and Brow Powder-Duo and go over it with Mellow Tinted Brow Gel.

This is followed by a natural eye look by using Mellow Treasure Chest Palette. To complete the look, I use the Mellow Gel Liner. I use an Estée Lauder Mascara to give my lashes a fuller look.

The last step in my morning routine is, of course, applying one of my Mellow Lipsticks or Lip Paints; Posh and Tehran seem to be my go-to colours every day. “At night, I use a Vitamin C Cleansing Polish from The Body Shop to cleanse my face and use my MediK8 and Aspect Night Cream and Retinol Serum to keep my skin hydrated during the night.

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Your go-to beauty look?

I would go for a darker smokey eye with a nude lip, as smokey eyes seem to pop in the photos.

Favourite fragrances?

I am absolutely obsessed with Miss Dior and Coco Chanel and have been using them for years. I also love Euphoria from Calvin Klein.

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Your haircare routine?

I use Fudge Silver Toning Shampoo once a week to keep my blondes freshly toned, but I use Joico shampoo and conditioner every other day. I also use Joico K-Pak Treatment and Leave-in Protectant once every two weeks to keep my hair damage-free, hydrated, and shiny.

Before straightening my hair, I use Joico heat protect spray, and once my hair is straight, I use Joico K-Pak Serum to avoid damaged ends. I only straighten my hair once a week or once every two weeks depending on what I have on. A trim every few months is definitely my way to keep my hair strong and healthy.


Top five products for a busy mum on-the-go/vanity kit essentials?

Definitely my daily moisturiser, which has SPF. This retains the skin moisture while protecting it from the sun. My brow pencil, a lipstick and blush are always in my make-up bag. I also always have a bottle of water with me, as I get dehydrated pretty easy.


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Best beauty trick that you have picked up along the way

Avoid using brushes for the foundation and use a damp beauty blender instead. This gives a fresh flawless base with no lines and cracks.

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Your approach to well-being and fitness routines

I love going to the gym. I haven’t been working out in the past few months due to the complications I have had with my second pregnancy, but definitely will be getting back into it a month after the baby is born.

Going to the gym and exercising and doing yoga keeps me sane. I get more energy to focus on my day. I believe meditating is a part of my success and well-being, so I try to meditate a few times a week before going to bed, even if it is only for five minutes.

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Any advice you can pass on to young entrepreneurs looking to strike out and start something on their own?

Stay focused. Do what you love, be positive, never give up, and the universe will do the rest.

Interview | Esha Chanda
Photography | Wono Kim
Production | Zeenat Wilkinson