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Who Runs the World? Mélanie Olsen, Sorority Gloss

HCUO’s “Who Runs the World?” series aims to highlight the stories of female founders running small businesses while completing their studies.

Have you been looking for the perfect hydrating lip gloss to add to your daily ‘I woke up like this’ routine? Maybe you’ve been searching for a high-quality gloss with a pop of colour to wow your S.O. (and yourself!) at your next date night? With a product line ranging from clear and plumping to colourful and fruity glosses, Sorority Gloss has something for everyone! 

Mélanie, founder of Sorority Gloss and fourth-year student in the University of Ottawa’s French Communications program, is from Gatineau and launched Sorority Gloss in the fall of 2019. She drew inspiration from her involvement in the Tri Delta sorority when naming her business. As for the inspiration behind the business itself, she says: 

“It might sound cliché, but I was looking for the glossiest gloss for myself and thought ‘Why don’t I just make it?’”

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HC: What is your favourite part of running a business? 

Mélanie: “I love seeing people get the product. It’s just so much fun because I put so much work into developing products, so seeing people really enjoy them makes all the hard work worth it. I also really love being my own boss – I work for the government as well, but I love having my business as a creative outlet where I get to be my own boss, make my own decisions, and be artistic.” 

HC: What does a typical school/work day look like for you? 

Mélanie: “Right now, I’m taking 6 classes, so I have a very heavy semester, but being able to work remotely is a lifesaver – the commute is cut, so I have more time to work on my business and school. Usually, I wake up and one of the first things I check are my Etsy orders, my messages, my Instagram messages, since I get orders on Instagram as well, and then I sit down at my desk and start fulfilling those orders, which I try to do as early as possible. Then, I’ll start my schoolwork. In between, I try to be on social media as much as possible because I feel like that’s what’s most helpful for my business – I do content creation on Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram, which is my major platform. Depending on what’s going on, I’ll do product creation as well – I make my own glosses so sometimes it takes a couple of hours a week to make them, so I try to manage my time as much as possible in order to make that happen. Fulfilling orders is lots of fun but making the glosses is such a heavy process, so that’s definitely the most demanding part of my day.” 

HC: What ingredients go into making Sorority Gloss glosses?

Mélanie: “I had to do quite a bit of research on glosses and manufacturing. The glosses you get at drugstores contain nearly 30 ingredients, which really confused me, so I did my research and found a way to make mine with three ingredients: a lip gloss base, an oil for consistency, and then flavouring oil. Depending on the desired consistency of a certain gloss, I’ll vary the oil I use – I typically use castor oil (for a thicker consistency) or apricot seed oil (for a thinner consistency), and then the flavouring oil will depend on what flavouring I want. So, it’s a really simple ingredient list, which I really like because I know what’s in my glosses, and my customers do as well.”

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HC: What shipping options are available for your products? 

Mélanie: “You can buy all of my products through Etsy. As an online shopping addict, I know how frustrating shipping prices can be: I wanted to keep shipping costs low, so I offer base shipping, which is $1.94. There’s unfortunately no tracking with the base shipping, but that’s how I keep shipping prices low. However, I do have a slightly pricier shipping option, which includes tracking, on my Etsy as well. I do offer free shipping on bigger bundles – if you buy three or four glosses for instance – and I ship internationally, including Canada and the United States.”  

HC: What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs? 

Mélanie: “Invest in your branding, invest in a good logo, and invest your time in creating a brand identity; in the long run, it’s all you have. I feel like it’s really straightforward, but I also would have loved to be given this advice when I first started my business. I think sometimes people get really excited about putting out a product, and they don’t realize that taking the time to plan out your brand – creating a media kit to stay consistent in your branding so you’re not all over the place, for example – can make all the difference.” 

HC: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Sorority Gloss? 

Mélanie: “My business may be called Sorority Gloss, but it’s actually a very inclusive brand: some of my guy friends use my glosses as lip masks at night, others use them every day as an ultra-hydrating alternative to lip balm, and some just really love using them as glosses. I also sent glosses to a few male influencers; they love wearing them every day. I have one product in particular, a clear plumping gloss that’s peppermint flavoured, and it’s crazy hydrating – even my mom uses it at night as a mask. There’s no age or gender limit when it comes to Sorority Gloss glosses!”

Ready to get your prettiest (and most hydrated) pout ever? Head on over to Sorority Gloss’ Etsy page, or find these stunning glosses on Instagram at @sororitygloss!

Know someone who would be perfect for this feature series? Send us your suggestions in an email at hc.uottawa@hercampus.com with the subject “Who Runs the World?” 

Note: responses have been formatted for the purposes of this story. 


Teaghan is a fourth-year Translation student who loves drinking espresso and thrifting--in that order. She is also a part of the Campus Trendsetters community! Find her on Instagram @teaghandurand :)
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