If you don’t know by now, the beauty industry has a lot of work to do. As more brands start to expand their shade range and add women of color to the conversation we are slowly moving forward in the game.
Maria is a Chicago-based MUA who was tired of stressing herself out trying to mix shades for her clients of color, so she started her own cosmetics line, and has been getting buzz all over the internet. I sat down with her to learn about Kween Cosmetics and how she funded it at only 21 years old.
In your own words, what would you describe your career as and how did you get there?
Right now, I don’t consider Kween to be my career but my passion. I have always been very interested in art and Kween has allowed me to express myself in an artistic way. I’ve been doing makeup for three years and began this journey about a year ago. I always dreamed of having my own makeup line.
What made you create Kween Cosmetics?
Being that I am a woman of color and a makeup artist, I noticed that my clients didn’t always have the product to meet their needs. I often found that I had to blend different types of shades to help match the different skin tones and undertones of my clients. One day I decided to follow my dream and created these products with these women in mind.
Prior to creating a cosmetics line, what were you doing before?
I graduated high school three years ago and went straight into the workforce. I started working since I was fourteen to support myself through high school but when I graduated I wanted more. I scored a job at a law firm because of my uncle and began doing makeup part time. I received so many compliments on not only my makeup but the amazing work I was doing on other woman. During this time I knew being a makeup artist was for me and I began to explore my passion for cosmetology.
As a new entrepreneur, how did you fund your vision?
Through my own hard work and the support of my friends and family I have been able to fund my dream of owning a cosmetic line. Kween Cosmetics is a grassroots company and funding this dream has not always been easy. I’m still working my 9-5 while making sure Kween Cosmetics runs smoothly. Being a young entrepreneur is far from easy but the support and feedback of my clients has always kept me going.
When you decided to start your company, what was your biggest fear and how did you overcome it?
Being that I work with makeup, I understand that there are many products available. However, I truly believe that any success that I have had and will have in the future is a result of me putting the time and effort of catering my products to and for women who I care very deeply about. In the beginning, I was afraid that no one would be interested in my products, but I always received such positive comments that it made me really believe that I needed to start my own company.
What void do you feel you’re fulfilling in the beauty industry?
Put simply, there isn’t a wide range of product for women of color. My goal is to help every woman feel beautiful and by providing these products, I’m giving women the opportunity to express themselves. As a make-up artist, I always found that most setting powders that existed in the market would not give women the results that they wanted. My setting powders come in a variety of shades and photograph beautifully. There’s also a lack of representation of brown, asian and especially black men and woman in the industry. Big brands are notorious for not representing people of color or displaying a ton of white models and throwing one darker skin woman in there and call it diversity. I want Kween Cosmetics to represent everyone and to set an example for these bigger brands because beauty comes in all shades.
So how long did it take you to create and test your products? How did you know how to do this?
I took the whole year that I was funding my products to test them out and make sure everything was FDA approved. I didn’t just want to put out anything to make a quick buck so I would order samples and wore the products everyday. I wanted a product I can trust and wear myself.
What was a difficult time in your life that you overcame and how did you do so?
I consider myself to be very lucky to have the support of friends and family who support me in building my brand and reaching my goals. That’s not to say that I have not faced challenges in my life. My parents separated when I was six and i spent most of my child hood with my grandmother. When I got to high school I fought a lot and was angry at the world. I was treating my family unfairly but i got the help I needed and turned my life around not only for them but for myself. I consider myself to be very ambitious and strong-willed and I know that I can accomplish anything that I put my mind to. I learned strength and endurance from the women in my family.
Where would you like to see yourself and your brand in the next year?
In the future, I would like to expand my product line to include a variety of foundations. I am incredibly grateful for all of the support that I have received and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Kween Cosmetics both in the United States and worldwide.
What do you pride yourself on as a business owner and what are some mistakes you’ve made thus far?
I pride myself on having created a truly exceptional line of products not only in quality but also in helping meet a need for countless women. Like any young business owner, there have been growing pains and I am constantly learning the finer details of owning and running my business. I am really excited for what’s to come for Kween and continuing to grow as an entrepreneur.
Who are some celebrities that you would love to see rocking your line and who’s doing so already?
I just launched my business a few months ago and I’ve been truly humbled by the support I have received through social media. Personally, I am drawn to strong women who can aren’t afraid to be themselves and a few that immediately come to mind are Rihanna, Lil Kim and Cardi B. It would be a tremendous honor to one day see them wearing Kween Cosmetics.
What do you want your supporters to take from our interview?
That I am truly grateful for their support! I want everyone to know that these are products that I use myself and that I personally guarantee are high quality. Exciting things are in store for Kween Cosmetics and people can keep an eye out for new products that are yet to come