Self-made or Nah?

A recent Forbes cover-article sparked some debate on what it truly meant to be self-made. Though the definition is still a little hazy for some (except, I decided to compile a list of men and women I believe are self-made in the beauty industry, and are specifically catering toward darker skin and skin tones that are often left out in the industry. 


10. Vasanti Cosmetics -

The bond between sisters (Monal, Pinki and Gargi Gosal) and a family friend (Priti Patel)is the foundation of Vasanti Cosmetics. The inspiration behind the company was the question "why doesn't makeup look good on me?" Established in 1999 in Ont., Canada, the founders had noticed that most of the makeup sold in drugstores where either too light or too dark for South Asian skin tones, so they decided to fill the space in the market. 

Image from  Luscious Cosmetics

9. Luscious Cosmetics -  

Founded in 2007 by Pakistani "makeup buff" Mehrbano Sethi. Luscious is a South-Asian based company that caters to the makeup needs of South Asian skin tones. The products are vegan and cruelty-free, are highly pigmented and built to withstand the humidity in most South-Asian countries. Sethi began her pursuit of finding highly pigmented lipstick while attending college in Boston, in 1990, but found no such luck. So instead she created her own by mixing lipsticks and eyeshadows, soon family and friends were asking for their own shades, and thus Luscious Cosmetic's was born. 

Image from  Mented Cosmetics

Image from Mented Cosmetics

8.    Mented -

Founded by two Harvard graduates, KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson, Mented (short for Pigmented) started by mixing colours on a hotplate in their kitchen. What makes this pair so inspiring is that they are the 15th and 16th African-American women to raise $1 million in venture capital to grow their business, in America. Talk about making it happen! Miller and Johnson had initially planned to find investors to raise only $500K for seed-funding but were blown away when they raised double that. Their products cater to women of colour looking for the natural looking lip colour, and they recently started nail polishes too.  All lipsticks are vegan, paraben-free, non-toxic and cruelty-free.

Image from Melissa Butler via

Image from Melissa Butler via

7.    Lip Bar -

A true self-made Qween, the founder Melissa Butler, started her business at 24-years-old in the kitchen of her Brooklyn apartment. By 26 she had quit her Wall Street job and launched her company. Now worth $500K, Lip Bar products are sold online at Target and 42 department stores across 14 cities in America and are vegan and cruelty-free. 


6.    Iman Cosmetics -

Image from  NYMag

Image from NYMag

Now a household name, Iman began her modelling career in 1975 at a time when women that looked like her were not included in mainstream media and in 1994 she founded Iman Cosmetics. The company now worth $25 million, caters to the make-up of needs of women of colour especially, I grew up knowing it as the black girl brand. The company is still considered one the best companies for makeup for women of colour.



5.    Fenty Beauty -

We already know Bad Gal RiRi is the reigning QWEEN of social media marketing in the beauty industry. Fenty Beauty grossed $72 million in media value in the first month of sales, though new numbers are yet to be released, experts say it’s only going to go up, because nobody wants to be ashy anymore, and we all know that Fenty keeps you glowing with a natural finish. Though some may argue Rihanna isn’t technically self-made in the beauty industry, she did, however, make herself into a reputable musician, which afforded her the opportunity to create the much-need beauty brand, so there’s that. 

Image from  Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

4.    Fashion Fair -

Founded by John H.(the founder of Ebony magazine) and Eunice Johnson in 1973, Fashion Fair was initially created for African-American, but soon became a staple brand for women of colour all over. In 1982 Johnson was named one of Forbes’ Richest Americans with a net worth of $150 million at one point. Fashion Fair began when Eunice had noticed dark-skinned models mixing their foundations for fashion shows, so the pair decided to collect recipes and start making formulas that would suit the darker complexion of African-American women. 

Image by  Scurlock Studio  (Washington, D.C.)

Image by Scurlock Studio (Washington, D.C.)

3.    Madam C.J. Walker (née. Sarah Breedlove) -

We all know her as the legend that created the hot comb. A household name in the greater African-American community Madam Walker built her fortune in the early 20th century by producing hair care products to teach black women how to style their hair. At her death, she was worth $600K now $6 million and is known as the first black female self-made millionaire in America, though that may not be so true, keep reading you’ll see why.

2.    Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone -

What many (myself included) don’t know is that Malone taught Madam Walker a lot of the things she knew about hair care. Malone made her own hair care products of growth oils, serums, chemical non-damaging straighteners (also known as relaxers today). She opened her own first shop in 1902, and by 1914 she was a millionaire. She gave back to her community by building Poro College in 1918, located in St. Louis, the complex of the college was valued at over $1 million. Following many years of financial downfall meant at her death in 1987, Turnbo's estate was only worth $100K.

  1. Pat McGrath Labs - is worth $1 Billion, need I say more? 

Image from

Image from

McGrath's love for makeup began at seven-years-old when she would watch her mother's various makeup techniques. With her career as a makeup artists taking off in 1990, McGrath has made her mark in the fashion and beauty as THE makeup artist. It is no surprise that Pat McGrath Labs, established in 2015, is a huge success. When the first product (the Gold 001 pigment) hit the market everyone wanted more from McGrath, and in 2017 she delivered, by launching her full collection.  Take this in... Pat McGrath Labs made $1 billion in just three years.  


And that sums up my list of self-made beauty Qweens and Kings, if you have any more inspiring entrepreneurs, leave a comment below, I would love to find out more about independent, movers-and-shakers in the beauty industry!