FIRST THOUGHT: Limited Colors
I love looking at vintage advertisements. There’s always a hint of sexism but there’s something even more obvious. It’s all white folks. Before the 1970s, makeup for women of color wasn’t really a positive experience. Powders and creams that were marketed often featured some “brightening” feature and were packaged in modest, black-and-white containers. A dude named Overton helped actually increase accessibility and quality of makeup for women of color. Women could find their shade at a department store and feel assured that nothing overtly dangerous was included. They could buy makeup in a pretty container just like everyone else. Now, that’s a world I want to live in.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 1 in 12
Chicago’s cultural historian said that these products in the early 20th century would be made with chalk and ingredients that were legitimately hazardous. We’re in a new century now but, in many ways, are just as inundated with toxicity. This isn’t color-blind either. One in 12 beauty products aimed at Black customers have harmful ingredients. The green movement seems a bit slow to prioritize women of color.
Makeup is for everyone. What’s cool about this space is that you can always learn. My smoky eye is much better now than five years ago. Products have improved, too. Cashmere Nicole Carrillo is one woman who’s disrupting the green beauty space with her company the Beauty Bakerie.
Cashmere became a single mother at 16. She worked as a nurse when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her double mastectomy recovery challenged her to think differently about her goals and dreams. She created a five-year plan to launch a beauty line specifically for women of color.
Not only that, but Cashmere wanted these products to be completely cruelty-free and vegan friendly. She wondered—as so many of us have—this crazy stuff on my lips that I’m definitely ingesting, WTF is it? Those kind of simple questions is what led Nicole to create her empire.
What’s astonishing about Cashmere is her candor. In the early days, she branded her popular products for breast cancer awareness. This was before being diagnosed and she admits she kind of did it because of the pink color. We get it, girl. Her diagnosis made breast cancer a reality, one in which she shared openly.
That kind of authenticity might be what caused Beyoncé to include Beauty Bakerie on her website for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It doesn’t hurt that Cashmere’s products are legit fabulous. One of her most popular items is the smudge-free lipstick and “lip whip.” One genius addition to Cashmere’s brand is the shade finder. Images of 59 different shades are compared to other brands like NARS. That makes it easier to make the switch.
Cashmere uses the mantra, “better, not bitter.” What it means is that your success, your happiness isn’t dependent on others; it grows out of the light you have inside yourself. Cashmere certainly emulated that when a couple years ago, she started Sugar Homes, the philanthropic arm of Beauty Bakerie. Their first project is a female-led orphanage in Uganda, and Cashmere hopes to provide more funds to build more structures to support kids in need. Very sweet, indeed.
QUITE THE QUOTE
"To go from food stamps to a multi-million dollar business, it's a testament of how much you can overcome, how many no's and how many doors can slam before you can get back up."