Indigenous Representation in the Beauty Industry

European beauty standards tend to be the mold for most major cosmetic brands. Inclusion and diversity within the marketing and advertising aspect of the industry lacked in representation of many races and ethnicities including Indigenous People.

Instead of continuing to wait for proper Indigenous inclusion and representation, the following companies have brought their own seats to the table.

Cheekbone Beauty
T: 1.905.401.8355

Cheekbone exists to enhance and empower the lives of Indigenous youth’ – Jennifer Harper

Cheekbone Beauty was founded by Jennifer Harper (Anishinaabe) in 2016. It is an Indigenous owned Canadian cosmetic company based in St. Catharines, Ontario. Harper started Cheekbone Beauty to give back to her community. The aim of Cheekbone Beauty is to address the educational funding crisis and create a space in the beauty industry where Indigenous youth feel represented.

In 2017, Harper won the “Social Enterprise Award” at the 17th Annual Women in Business Awards hosted by the Women in Niagara (WIN) Council and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. In 2018, Harper and Cheekbone Beauty won the Social Enterprise of the Year – Ontario Award through Start-Up Canada.

Cheekbone’s products consist of 1 contour kit (Earth), 1 highlighter palette (Stardust), 2 brow gels (Blonde & Brunette), 6 lipglosses (Sweetgrass, Fire, Sundance, Sunset, Pink Moon, Wild Berry), and 15 Warrior Women Liquid Lipsticks (Ashley, Devery, Bethany, Roseanne, Amber, Autumn, Buffy, Melina, Cindy, Shannen, Sarain, Waneek, Tanya, Sunny, & Nikk). The Warrior Women Liquid Lipstick collection debuted in 2017. The names of the shades come from inspiring Indigenous women (i.e. Waneek HornMiller, Sarain Fox, Ashley Callingbull, and Buffy Sainte-Marie doing work for their communities and around the globe.

As part of the Pink Feather Program, with every order, a pink feather is included as a symbol of the company’s mission to spread love, gratitude, and kindness. For Harper, “it’s a symbol of thank you.” 10% of Cheekbone Beauty profits go to Shannen’s Dream, which works to close the educational funding gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. In 2020, Cheekbone plans to launch a zero-waste line of lipsticks.

Ah-Shi Beauty
T: 346.303.7112

“We can overcome anything with our culture.” -Mrs. LaChach

Ah-Shi Beauty was founded by Ahsaki Baa LaFrance-Chachere (Navajo/African American). LaChach was raised on the Navajo Reservation, Besh-Be-Toh in Northeastern Arizona. LaChach was tired of waiting for a major beauty brand to recognize Indigneous beauty, so she created Ah-Shi beauty. Ah-Shi Beauty is a full skin care and cosmetic company that represents Indigenous people respectfully and correctly in the Beauty industry.

While building her empire, LaChach elaborated on her journey to get to her present. LaChach saved her own money for start up capital without any loans. She began production of Ah-Shi Beauty with $15,000. Throughout this journey, LaChach stressed time as an important factor. “It takes a lot of time! I am up against time. The industry is forever changing, so I am forever learning. I am constantly re-evaluating and revamping. I listen to the opinions of my products, because I get to see a different perspective. I am trying to build a strong team. I want to be a trusting and understanding brand.” LaChach added, “My culture is not for sale, so how can I be traditional yet competitive?”

For LaChach and her business, the future looks bright. She was nominated for Forbes 30 under 30. Ah-Shi Future Foundation will allow Ah-Shi Beauty to work “handin-hand with the tribe”. LaChach added, “with my brand and business, I can help more people. It’s like my way, calling, purpose. The children motivate me. I want them to have what I did not have. I want to put a children’s museum on the reservation or give them a safe place to read and enjoy.” Ah-Shi Beauty currently helps with a reading program at Ganado Primary School. A storefront is in the works for Ah-Shi Beauty. It will be a studio that serves as both a showroom and headquarters of the brand. It will be located in Gallup, New Mexico.

Facebook: Ah-Shi Beauty
Twitter: @ahshibeauty
Instagram: @ahshibeauty

Some other Indigenous owned brands to look toward: Prados Beauty, Blended Girl Cosmetics, Billiee Beauty, Quwutsunmade, MinksByEm, Intertribal Beauty Cosmetics.

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