A new palette of eyeshadow in shades named for Prince Edward Island came from something a lot of Islanders who live away can identify with — being homesick for the Island.
The creator of the P.E.I. palette, Island actor Jessica Gallant, was having one of those bouts of homesickness a couple of years ago as she was performing in Ontario, when it struck her to create something that combines two of her passions: P.E.I. and makeup.
"A lot of my ideas come from when I'm homesick," Gallant said with a laugh via Zoom from her home office in St. Peters Bay, P.E.I. She's originally from nearby Ten Mile House.
"The colours are so vibrant on P.E.I. And you think about Lucy Maud [Montgomery] and the way she writes about the colours."
Makeup has been Gallant's side-hustle for about five years. She received certification as a professional makeup artist in Toronto.
Performer-turned-entrepreneur, thanks to COVID-19
"COVID forced a lot of people to pivot, especially in the arts and entertainment industry," Gallant said. She had had acting work lined up for the next year and a half when the pandemic hit in March 2020. She and her friends and colleagues lost all that work.
Gallant said she had a "rough" few months before she decided to go back to university, something she'd always wanted to do. Last fall, she started earning her business degree.
"I've always felt like I've kind of had an entrepreneurial spirit," she said — as an actor, she'd been self-employed and had to hustle and pitch herself.
As she researched a school project, Gallant messaged Michele Romanow, one of the dragons on the popular CBC TV show Dragons' Den, and asked Romanow what her best advice was for business students during the pandemic.
"She said 'start a business now.' And I went, 'That's my sign! I'm going to start my beauty line,'" Gallant said. "It wouldn't have happened if COVID didn't happen."
16 shades of P.E.I.
The 16 matte and shimmering shades have fun, quirky names based on P.E.I. including a bright blue called Blue Jay, a black called Mussels, a vibrant purple named Lupins, and the creamy off-white Grammie's House.
Of course, there's an emerald green called Gables, for Anne of Green Gables — a role she held in the Charlottetown Festival's musical for two years in 2015 and 2016, as well as playing her best friend Diana Barry in 2013 and 2014.
There's a shade called Gallant, because there are so many Gallants on P.E.I. The Island inspiration continues with Singing Sands, Jellyfish, Bud the Spud, The Bridge, Beach Bonfire, Lobster and Red Dirt Road.
And then there's the shimmery golden shade she named Garlic Fingers.
"People have been going crazy for Garlic Fingers!" she said. "I knew I wanted it to be a shimmery shade because garlic fingers are so oily!" People have been messaging her that it's their favourite shade.
Epekwitk is a golden yellow shade Gallant said she is very proud of.
"To acknowledge the history of the land — it's not ours, it's the Mi'kmaw land — and I was lucky enough to speak with Abegweit First Nation ... and they gave me the go-ahead to put that in."
'That pride that Islanders have'
The palette's packaging is a shimmery pale blue reminiscent of the ocean on a warm summer P.E.I. beach day. Her friend and fellow thespian, Islander Aaron Hastelow, did the graphic design work for the palette and the Jessica Gallant Beauty logos. "Artists are the most versatile people I've ever met," she said.
Playing lead roles in the long-running musical Anne of Green Gables influenced her ideas, Gallant said.
"I think being in Anne just made me appreciate the Island even more," she said. "I just saw that love that people from away have for the Island and also the pride that Islanders have."
She is hoping tourists will pick up the palette as a souvenir of the Island on their travels.
Gallant thinks the palette is a product that will appeal to a niche market. Her main clientele so far has been Islanders both living home and away, and visitors to P.E.I.
"I don't have to appeal to everyone," she said. She's also received orders from people who told her they've never been to P.E.I. but have always wanted to go.
"This was a really cool way to kind of, almost be transported to P.E.I. in a different way," she said. "And I've had a lot of people say this is kind of curing some homesickness for them."
'I'm just trying to enjoy things'
The palette contains a large mirror inside so customers can see their whole face.
"I was always so annoyed by these eyeshadow palettes that have the mirrors like this," she said, using her hands to create a long, narrow shape.
Gallant has also launched four shades of lipstick that she said have been selling well.
The makeup is manufactured overseas. Gallant researched manufacturers, looking for ones that are cruelty-free and use quality vegan ingredients.
"I'm not in there like a scientist, making them myself!" she said with her thousand-watt smile.
What's next for JGB? Eyeshadow palettes inspired by the other Atlantic provinces, or beyond? Stay tuned, Gallant said — right now, she's enjoying watching the lipsticks and the palettes sell well.
"it's definitely exceeded my expectations," she said. "It's been a wild year-and-a-half, so I'm just trying to enjoy things."
Jessica Gallant Beauty products can be purchased on her website and so far at one Charlottetown retailer, Green Eye Designs on Richmond Street.
Gallant is married to filmmaker Luc Trottier and the couple is expecting a baby this fall.