IT Cosmetics CEO champions diversity in beauty industry

If at first you don’t succeed, try again — especially when you have a mission that’s as important as promoting diversity in the beauty industry.

And that’s exactly what Jamie Kern Lima, co-founder and CEO of the wildly popular IT Cosmetics did after she was told by a prospective investor that shoppers wouldn’t purchase her makeup because of her appearance.

Recounting the tale at the Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Achiever Awards, Fox News said Lima explained how her company almost didn’t come to fruition: “I’m just not sure women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you, you know, with your body and your weight,” he said after hearing the pitch. But for Lima, his words weren’t the end; they were only the beginning of her pursuit to prove her naysayers wrong.

“I felt something deep down inside,” she said, according to Yahoo Lifestyle. “And it said, ‘No. You are wrong.'”

From there, Yahoo says the former news anchor, who was inspired to create IT Cosmetics because of her experience dealing with rosacea and hyperpigmentation, began pushing forward by marketing her products in ways that privileged diversity and inclusivity. Eventually, Fox News said Lima landed her big break when she appeared on QVC. “In her products launch on QVC, which sold out,” they report, “she chose models that went against the grain – a 73-year-old woman and an African American model with acne,” sticking true to her mission of representation.

But even after achieving success, Yahoo says Lima concluded her speech by saying she is not yet finished in attempting to create change in the beauty industry.

“She reminded that roomful of beauty executives — ‘the people who singlehandedly decide the images billions of women see around the world’ — to ask themselves: ‘How will these images impact your mothers, and your sisters, and how will they impact your daughters?'”

Oh, and as for that investor, Fox News says that after IT Cosmetics was acquired by L’Oreal for $1.2 billion, she heard from him again. His message?

“Congratulations. I was wrong.”

And that is how you succeed when others think you can’t.

 

Nicole’s Favorites: Digital Must-Reads

Sometimes, speaking up or putting yourself out there can be extremely difficult. It can take all the confidence and bravery you can muster to finally speak your mind, stand up for yourself or go out on a limb in pursuit of your dreams. But, when you have models of those who have gone before us — those who have busted down doors or pointed out double standards — it can make it a little bit easier for the rest of us who are trying to find our way.

This week, I’ve chosen two pieces that I think are very important to read, albeit for different reasons. One teaches us to speak up in the midst of the most difficult or trying circumstances, while the other offers insight on the roadblocks women may face when striving for success. Both, however, will leave you feeling stronger and inspired. Here are my two favorite online reads for this week:

Gretchen Carlson: What Speaking Up Against Sexual Harassment Did for Me—and Why I Encourage Other Women to Do the Same 

(Trigger warning) The former Fox News host reveals details the sexual assaults she faced as a Miss America candidate and later sexual harassment she faced working her way up the media industry. Her experiences — and the countless others she heard from women with similar stories — then inspired her to write Be FierceStop Harassment and Take Back Your Power, due out on Oct. 17. Read her essay on InStyle here.

Jewel Eliese: How to Get Published: Be Male?

Writer Jewel Eliese breaks down the barriers to success in the world of publishing, which she concludes may be a function of gender, as males — and even females writing under male pseudonyms — have an easier time getting manuscript requests and even published. However, Eliese argues that we, as a society, can change things if we remove gender and its adjoining stereotypes from the equation and focus on the quality of the storytelling, not the name signed at the bottom of a query letter. Read her full article here.

While these pieces certainly point out the many trappings that can go along with gender, they should serve as a source of inspiration, letting us all know that change is possible if we have the courage to pursue it.

XO,

Nicole