Six Trailblazing Women who Changed the Beauty Industry
Today’s beauty industry wouldn’t be what it is today without the accomplishments made by women. From the products we make to the way they’re sold, women have been trailblazers every step of the way.
In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at some of the most incredible milestones achieved by women over the years. Spanning from a century ago up until the last couple of years, let’s celebrate just how far women have been able to go with their dreams.
Remember that throughout this month at Booksy, we'll be honoring these and other women on the Booksy Instagram page. Simply look for the hashtag #WhosInYourCircle. And find out more about these beauty industry icons who paved a way that many people never dreamed possible.
If we’re talking about modern icons in the beauty industry, we have to talk about Michelle Phan. Phan began as a beauty vlogger on YouTube, one of the first of her kind, and built an empire. Her captivating, yet intricate, makeup looks and science-backed skincare approach earned billions of views on the platform.
From there, Phan created her own cosmetics company and a beauty subscription service (also one of the first of its kind). Phan’s success in the industry showed others that using the power of the internet to jump-start a career is feasible.
It is clear that other successful influencers and business owners that start on the internet followed Phan’s relaxed tutorial-style approach.
After earning a scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, Naomi Sims found herself modeling to finance college. The modeling industry was especially tough for women with dark skin like Naomi, but through her powerful networking and business skills, she ended up on the cover of The New York Times in 1967.
From that iconic “Fashions of the Times” issue shoot, Naomi began to grow stupendously in the modeling industry. By the 70s, she’d landed the covers of Ladies’ Home Journal and Life Magazine.
Modeling wasn’t the only venture where Sims found success. To fill a much-needed gap in the industry, Sims began to make realistic wigs for Black hair, turning it into a million-dollar company.
Sims’ goal was to create a legacy. She is credited with being the first African-American supermodel and created multiple successful businesses to champion the beauty of those in her community out of necessity.
When Huda Kattan founded Huda Beauty, she was already a trailblazer in her field. This notoriety came from a booming YouTube channel and corresponding blog. Her following was millions strong, and she was ready to leave a mark on beauty.
Her beauty mark was her cosmetics company, which she runs with her two sisters, Mona and Alya. With over 20 million followers and a reputed brand under her belt, Huda took the blueprint of going from the internet to entrepreneurship and exploded it even further.
In 1973, the Fashion Fair was born. Eunice and John Johnson created the company to focus specifically on consumers of color. The immense success of the brand soon prompted other makeup companies to make products that were more inclusive.
Aside from being at the helm of a trailblazing business, Johnson’s work continued to emphasize and uplift Black independents in the beauty and fashion industries. For instance, she started a tour that showcased couture from Black designers, worn by Black models, and shown to Black audiences around the country.
For her devotion to the industry, famous cosmetics company, and awareness of uplifting her community, Eunice Johnson is a beauty industry icon.
In 2013, Gwen had $34 in her bank account. She had recently been laid off, divorced, and was the mom of a toddler. She had also just taken a huge chance and started her business: Naturalicious, a natural hair care line.
Jimmere knew her formula was special and it needed protecting. This led her to becoming the first Black woman to earn a patent for a natural hair care product. On top of that, as of 2015, you can find her line on the shelves at Whole Foods.
Like other trailblazers, Jimmere was alarmed by the amount of chemicals she was using on her hair during her pregnancy. When she wasn’t able to find hair products without them, she made her own.
Her products needed to be able to work if someone can’t spend most of the day washing and conditioning their hair, like a new mom.
Jimmere decided to obtain the Moroccan Rhassoul 5-in-1 Clay Treatment patent herself instead of spending $10,000 on a lawyer. Instead, she spent under $2000 and successfully protected her product, and business.
Obviously, Chanel is one of the biggest names in the fashion industry, and absolutely revolutionary in her field. However, her story about breaking into beauty is inspiring, as well.
For instance, without Chanel’s impact, it probably would’ve taken a while for the fashion and beauty industries as a whole to intersect. It was Coco herself who made the decision to expand her fashion company to include fragrance.
At the time, a move like this was unheard of, but Chanel was able to make the transitional seamless. From its initial release in 1921 to now, Chanel no.5 is noted as being one of the most recognizable and infamous fragrances of all time. How’s that for being an icon?
This is just a handful of the incredible women who are staples in the industry. And the best part is, the list continues to grow. Do you recognize any of the names on our list? Which of their stories inspired you the most?