It’s an exciting time in the beauty industry, as impressive indie makeup brands are cropping up left and right, captivating the hearts and wallets of makeup lovers. While the considerable rise of new players in the market makes for a more adventurous shopping experience, it can be difficult to stand out. Yet, in the midst of all the noise, Beauty Bakerie, a black-owned cosmetics company founded by Cashmere Nicole, has managed to pull it off with great success.
The California-based company counts big-name YouTube vloggers Jackie Aina, Tati Westbrook, and Alissa Ashley among its fans and celebrities can’t get enough, either. Beyoncé was an early supporter, as was songstress Kehlani; not to mention, earlier this year, Cardi B was spotted wearing one of the brand’s Matte Lip Whips in Très Jolie, a vibrant magenta, which is perennially sold out.
Launched in 2011, Beauty Bakerie started as a passion project by Nicole while she was battling breast cancer. Early on, it was a creative outlet for her to explore her artistic passions and love of beauty before it became a serious endeavor. “At one point, it was all fun and games. I thought, ‘I’ll start a makeup brand, and I’m just going to have fun,'” Nicole tells Allure. “But later, after going through breast cancer, things got real.”
After her diagnosis in 2010, Nicole began a life-altering health journey, overhauling what she was consuming and using on her body regularly. In the process, she started investigating what ingredients were in her cosmetics. Taken aback by what she discovered, she set out to create a non-toxic, budge-proof lipstick formula that would stay put through eating, talking, and other facial movements. “I [needed] a product that I [wasn’t] absorbing all day — something that just [sits] on the lip and can be removed when I’m ready to take it off,” she recalls.
Her hard work resulted in the line’s most popular offering: Lip Whip, a smudge-proof, long-wearing liquid lipstick that could probably last through an apocalypse. It’s become the driving force behind the brand’s popularity and a fan-favorite in the beauty community for its staying power. The name Beauty Bakerie itself came from Nicole’s sweet tooth. “I remember going to Miami with my friends and seeing this gourmet cupcake shop. I thought it was cute,” she recalls. A few weeks later, she settled on the name Beauty Bakerie.
My goal is to make sure I get every voice at the table.
Since its inception, the company has operated with an ethos of genuine diversity, right before the conversation about inclusivity in the beauty space became mainstream. Nicole prides herself on creating products that fit people of all walks of lives, particularly those whose beauty needs have historically been overlooked. “My goal is to make sure I get every voice at the table,” she explains. In practice, this means ideating, designing, and manufacturing offerings that are all but absent in the beauty space, like highlighters and bronzers that work for all skin tones, especially those on the darker end of the spectrum.
In the fall of 2017, Beauty Bakerie debuted its Coffee & Cocoa Palette, which includes four earth-tone shades that look equally stunning as eye shadows, highlighters, and bronzer on melanin-rich skin. Inspired by Nicole’s daughter, who’s darker in complexion and often struggles to find flattering makeup, Nicole set out to create one of the few palettes specifically catered to black and brown people. “I thought to myself, ‘Let me make sure she has the products that are available to me and my skin tone so that she doesn’t find herself feeling discouraged or feeling left out or self-conscious,'” Nicole explains.
It’s important as leaders of brands to identify whose needs aren’t
being met. It doesn’t matter how ‘small’ it may seem to you.
Since its release, the palette has sold out several times and has been praised on social media by countless black women. “The response for Coffee & Cocoa has been unbelievable,” Nicole gushes. “It’s important as leaders of brands to identify whose needs aren’t being met. It doesn’t matter how ‘small’ that need may seem to you. It’s a true need, even if only one of them sells off of the shelf.”
Another area of the beauty industry Nicole wants to diversity is base makeup. Back in January, the brand released its first complexion item, the Cake Face Concealer. Available in eight shades, the colors are evenly split among light and dark complexions. With a number of other brands in recent months coming out with concealers in the same old range of beige, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a brand — and an indie one at that — creating something for everyone.
For people who can’t find their match, Beauty Bakerie has plans for expanding the range soon, which Nicole has a steadfast commitment to master. Shortly after the announcement of its newest launch, she took to social media asking for customers to submit their input on the shade range they’re looking for in concealers via the Beauty Bakerie Summit page. Her call to action is part of a comprehensive plan to ensure everyone’s concerns are heard — a cornerstone of Nicole’s personal and professional philosophy. “Everyone’s voice is important. You need to talk to every culture you possibly can, just so that you can be aware of anything,” she tells Allure.
Beauty Bakerie’s mass appeal is a testament to the importance and bankability of genuine diversity. With over 400,000 Instagram followers, its flagship store in San Diego, stockists like ASOS and Forever 21’s beauty-only store Riley Rose, and a $3 million investment from Unilever, it’s safe to say the brand has a bright future ahead. “I would love it if people could create a full face of makeup with Beauty Bakerie products,” Nicole said at the time of our interview.
And now you can, as Beauty Bakerie recently released its Cake Mix Demi-Matte Foundation, a transfer-proof and long-lasting formula that’s available in 30 shades with various undertones.
As Beauty Bakerie continues to grow, Nicole hopes to serve as an inspiration to all of the brand’s supporters, reminding them that their voices and needs matter in the beauty space and beyond: “I think together we can create change.”
Read more profiles of innovators in beauty:
Now, watch Tyra Banks try nine things she’s never done before:
Shammara Lawrence is a New York-based freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter.