Q & A with Alima Pure Founder Kate O’Brien
What are the 5 Alima Pure products you couldn’t live without?
Ha! That’s hard. Can I choose whole categories? I love mattes. Satin Matte Eyeshadow, Satin Matte Blush, Satin Matte Foundation, LipTint and Mascara. And then of course brushes and our new eyeliner. It has been so hot in Portland this summer – eyeliner and mascara help me feel pulled together in the heat.
Do you have any health tricks or tips?
If I can workout before heading into the office in the morning I feel terrific all day. My trick is to have my yoga clothes ready so I’m out the door before I can think about how lovely it would have been to sleep longer. Then I pop home for a shower and make myself a big salad to take in for lunch.
Your background is in teaching, what inspired you to create a beauty company?
I loved teaching kindergarten but my dear aunt and my darling mother died within 18 months of each other, both from complications of breast cancer. I was teaching and quietly grieving. Teaching is very outwardly focused, and I found balance on the weekends by nurturing myself making natural skincare and then natural makeup. From that Alima grew organically – friends started asking for products and it grew.
Tell us a little bit about your everyday routine.
I usually wake up just before 5 am and meditate for half an hour, then zip off to early morning yoga. I’m home by 7:30 and then on my way to work by 8:45. Those hours in the morning have a huge impact on the rest of my day – I feel so much more focused and grounded when I’ve taken time to meditate and exercise. Workdays are filled with meetings, emails, product development and special projects. I love to go for a walk after work and cook dinner with my husband, and snuggle with my little rescue mutt, Ella. I usually read for awhile and conk out by 9:30 or so.
How do you find balance between yourself, family, and company?
Oh, it’s tricky for all of us, isn’t it? Most days I carve time for myself first thing in the morning and it makes a big difference. I generally get up at 5, meditate for half an hour and then take a 6 am yoga class in a beautiful studio 5 minutes from my house. I still have time to pop home for a shower and a good breakfast before work. Usually I make lunch, too – it takes 10 minutes to put together a wonderful salad. With a start like that I’m ready for all of the challenges of the day. Evenings are peaceful and fun – often my husband and I will go out, I have some snuggle time with our little pup, and then fall asleep fairly early.
What product would you recommend to an Alima Pure first-timer?
Foundation! It’s my favorite product and the cornerstone of our line. I spent months working on getting the proportions right so that it would have a light creamy feel and just disappear weightlessly into the skin. I love it.
What’s the best part about living in Portland?
Oh, so many things! There is so much support for living a healthy fun life here. By far the best aspect for me is the people. It’s so easy to connect with Portlanders – our beautiful city is laid back and easy going. I love to joke around with people, to laugh about how excited we get when the sun comes out, to ask questions and engage. Bike lanes and farmers markets and indie brands and food carts and awesome coffee. I love everything about it. Except the rain, perhaps, in February.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I had the good fortune to grow up around strong, empowered women. There wasn’t specific advice but a sense that with commitment and imagination one could accomplish just about anything. Whenever I feel wobbly I just have to think of them and I come back to center. Every woman should have that. We can share that message of empowerment though our community. That’s my dream.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
People! Our wonderful employees who make it a pleasure to come to work every single day, and our customers who totally wow us with their unfailing awesomeness, and our wonderful suppliers and partners who have nurtured and cheered for us as we have grown.
Can you share your favorite travel destinations?
We lived in Venice Italy, for a couple of years (I know, right?), and I can never get enough of it. There are so many amazing placed to visit in Europe but I can be absolutely happy roaming around my one little corner of Dorsoduro (a neighborhood in Venice) day after day. My sister has lived in India for years and I would very much love to visit her. And closer to home there is spectacularly beautiful Eastern Oregon and San Francisco.