Despite catering primarily to women, the beauty industry has typically been run by older white men. After 86 years in business, Revlon just hired its first-ever female CEO in 2018. The CEOs of Estée Lauder, Coty, and LVMH, which control a large majority of the beauty industry are still all men. According to LedBetter’s Database, only 24% of executive seats at personal care companies are held by women, and women only hold 5% of CEO titles at S&P 500 companies, little to none of which are women of color.
But there’s a new wave of female entrepreneurs shaking this up. Brands like Pat McGrath Labs, Glossier, Huda Beauty, and Anastasia Beverly Hills are valued in the billions, and Beauty Bakerie is showing no signs of stopping. The magic of these brands lies in the fact that they aren’t run by traditional businessmen, instead by women who closely understand their target markets and are social media savvy enough to foster a true community and cult following.
Making an impression online has become a crucial part of Beauty Bakerie’s business. In August 2018, the brand went viral again for its Cake Mix Foundation launch, which comes in 58 shades, and was the first in the industry to label its shades from darkest to lightest, a move that was followed by Glossier.
Foundation shopping was never easy for Nicole, even as a lighter-skinned black woman, and she saw how it was nearly impossible for her darker-skinned relatives and daughter. Nicole says she internalized that and began to notice that it not only hurt to have to hunt for shades, but that it was physical work. Endless scrolling, bending down to the very bottom of a display, approaching sales people only to be told a shade was an online exclusive, just for a single bottle of foundation.
“I thought to myself, I’m going to create a situation, where women of color don’t have to feel that way anymore,” she tells Glamour, noting the decision was simple. “It would have a major positive outcome for African-Americans, and it wouldn’t have a negative outcome on white Americans. No one light- or fair-skinned was going to feel slighted.” Nicole doesn’t want credit when it comes to creating this new metric, since it’s about more than her—she’s just happy to see it’s catching on. “We did this to create change, and the change is taking place. That makes me smile,” she says.