Emily Rudman is a new mom based in Connecticut and founder of lifestyle brand Emilie Heathe, which has been featured in publications like Vogue and Allure. Her curated product lineup currently includes nontoxic nail polish, an exfoliating lip treatment, fine jewelry, makeup sets and vanity boxes. Growing up as an adopted Korean with Caucasian parents, Emily says she felt like an outsider growing up—and inspired her to create an inclusive brand. We spoke to Emily about what else spurred her to create her business, her commitment to “clean” products, her mom uniform, and more.
Can you share a bit more about how your background and how it inspired you?
I think for a long time I tried to conform to a particular representation of beauty that I felt I should look like: blonde hair, blue eyes, “all-American”. It wasn’t until I was much older and started to accept myself for my differences and viewed those parts of me as being beautiful in their own right, that I really began to feel confident in myself. And I think that I wanted to create something that did not exist in the marketplace at the time. For me, I focus on creating products that always keep an Asian consumer in mind. For example, mascara is not easy to be worn by Asians when it has a really big brush, because our eye curves differently and our lashes are usually on the shorter side. So we’re developing a mascara right now and I am making sure that the brush works for a smaller eye shape.
You’ve described Emilie Heathe as a “creative lifestyle community”. What does that mean?
I know that seems maybe overused or ambiguous but I really don’t see it as just a brand that creates and sells product. That is part of what we do but the other part of what we do is work collaboratively and creatively with other brands, artists, and creatives. I want the brand to become a place and a space for people of all different types of backgrounds to be able to express themselves creatively whether that is through music, fashion, illustration, painting, drawing, sculpture or even the art of creating product itself. We are creating a space for conscientious beauty, with products that perform but also keep in mind giving back, responsibility, ethics and sustainability.
What was the first product you launched?
We actually launched our NAIL ARTIST nail polish first. I think that the reason we did the nail polish first was because it was kind of an iconic + innovative design featuring magnetized caps that connected the product together. At the time there were not a lot of 10-free nontoxic formulas, especially in luxury. There were two purposes to the design: one was that it looks beautiful displayed on your vanity and was a fun object to play with but then also for the convenience of storage and travel. I also love the way that you can use the nail as a tiny little canvas.
Can you tell me about the progression of the brand, including the commitment to “clean” products?
Motherhood played a huge role in our push to prioritize clean beauty. I knew that I always wanted to create a clean nontoxic nail polish and I wanted something that moms would feel comfortable wearing. I switched out a lot of my products during pregnancy, and it was great knowing that I could use everything we were developing, because we made sure to innovate that way. It’s a balance to create products that are high-performing and clean. For example, we didn’t go the all-natural route because for me, that was not my focus and there are a lot of great brands doing this well. But all natural products have shorter-shelf life, meaning they expire quickly after they are made or opened. And natural ingredients, like some essential oils, can actually be more irritating then their safer synthetic counterparts. So again, it’s about trying to find that performance + ingredient balance.
Your nail polish is so perfect for this time when so many of us are trying are hand at at-home mani/pedis! Do you have any tips?
I could write a book about tips and tricks for nails, make-up and hair! But I think the biggest tip I have is “don’t be afraid”. Moisturize your cuticles and your hands, especially now with all the excess of washing and using hand sanitizer. Definitely push back your cuticles and get a silicone or metal pusher. Do not cut your cuticles unless it’s hanging skin or callused areas. When you file your nails, especially if they are weak, only file in one direction: filing back-and-forth can actually crack and weaken the nail. Definitely get a buffer to kind of buff out the edges and the surface of the nail. When painting your nails, you really should paint the layers of color very thin. Also make sure that you wrap the color around the tip edge of the nail so when you take the brush and kind of just sweep it across the edge of the nail that wraps a color around the nail and also increase the wear time. And practice, practice, practice.
How are your polishes (and other products) developed not only to look good, but be good for you?
We do a huge vetting process with the development of our formulas. We will actually only work with labs that are also ethically producing products. We make sure that we’re including well studied ingredients that we know have proof of encouraging nail health and strengthening and moisturization. We work with chemists as well as our development team for a couple years on formula development and really have not launched anything unless we felt like it was close to perfect. We’re always keeping in mind how and on what part of your body you’re using the product. For example, for our lip products we made sure to use non-sensitizing ingredients. I have terrible allergies to lipsticks in the marketplace.
What holiday gifts are you giving this year?
I always feel funny when I give my own product as gifts but I think they’re really beautiful and they are very giftable. We’re launching our trio box this holiday season which I’m really excited about and then we also have our capsule jewelry collection. And people really love jewelry, and jewelry and nails go hand-in-hand. I think that jewelry is kind of timeless and it’s an object of significance the same way we want our product to be so I absolutely will be gifting some jewelry this year.
What is your go-to mom uniform?
I’m not going to lie, but my go-to mom uniform as just been a dress during the summer. I actually have any wearing my maternity clothing from Hatch and some regular clothing I had bought just in larger sizes. Ganni and Misa are incredibly comfortable. Negative Underwear makes really comfortable bras and underwear and Ongossamer.
What does your 5-minute makeup routine entail?
My five minute makeup routine is usually done on the go, and first of all, always entails moisturizer. I’ve been using La Mer for years. I’ve tried everything from Neutrogena, Olay, Nivea, and more but it’s the only thing that works for me and my eczema. For foundation I use Georgio Armani Luminous Silk. Then I would say concealer from Kevyn Aucoin or Laura Mercier or Bobbi Brown, mascara (ours of course in development) and a liquid liner for a little bit of a cat. I really like Stila or Marc Jacobs. Fill in brows quickly, again, with our brow powder launching later this year. And finally I’d prep lips with our Lip R&R and then a dab of lipstick on the lips and cheeks. If I’m not wearing ours I have a slew of other brands I like including: Kosas, Ilia, Nars, Chanel and Too Faced (Liquid Matte).
Where can people shop your line?
People can shop our line at emilieheathe.com. We are also in some select exclusive retail and salons and will be launching in some bigger retailers this holiday season that we’re excited to announce soon!
What’s next for you?
Finding some work-life balance and watching my two babies grow: my daughter Emma and my brand EMILIE HEATHE.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would like to share that growing a brand is hard and being an entrepreneur is hard. And then being a mom and a woman of color makes it that much harder. There’s a lot I think that women and men expect of our roles as mothers and as founders and I think and believe that we can sometimes be really hard on ourselves. I believe that we need to celebrate the wins, learn to accept the flaws and losses and just pay attention to what is truly important, especially during a time like this. I think it’s really important to build a trusted community around you that supports you and really helps you. And to that end, you should do the same. Pay it forward. I don’t build sustainability into our products for marketing or donate a % of sales to non-profits like Glam4Good because it looks good. I have not featured diverse ethnic backgrounds and genders in our campaigns performatively or because it’s “trending”. I do it because it’s what is right – what should be the norm. I like to know I am using a platform to give back, act responsibly and try to create a better world for us now and for my daughter’s future.
This story contains sponsored content.