Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, however, it is also oftentimes determined and defined by cultural trends. In spite of this contradictory conception of beauty itself, the profitability of this lucrative industry is a fact not up for debate. In 2015 alone, the beauty industry generated an estimated $56.2 billion. The industry even proved to be recession-proof, as Americans continued to spend on cosmetics, skin care, and other beauty products and services during the 2008 Recession. So, it’s no wonder why more women of color are capitalizing off of this booming business, creating their own hair care lines, products, and opening up salons and spas.
Celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert Courtney Rashon says she was bit by the beauty bug while she was working as the executive assistant for the CEO of Ecko Unltd. An interest in makeup led her to enroll in cosmetology school and obtain a certification in fashion/glamour and character sciences makeup. She also began working on “a wide range of projects that required various types of makeup applications,” she told BLACK ENTERPRISE in an email. However, Rashon’s interest in makeup didn’t stop there. She began interviewing celebrities about their personal beauty habits and writing about beauty products and trends, skin care, makeup, spa treatments for various online publications.
In 2010, Rashon launched Courtney Rashon Industries, L.L.C. According to the company’s website, Courtney Rashon Industries, L.L.C. “consists of a full-service beauty entity that provides glamour/beauty and visual effects makeup application, men’s grooming, and image consulting.” Rashon also launched her own line of Mink and Siberian Sable lashes, #PrettyGirlGangCosmetics, in 2015, which initially sold out in just six months.
In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, the beauty expert opened up about her book, Giving Face: The Art to Looking Flawless for Every Occasion, her passion for beauty, and the evolution of the beauty industry for women of color. She also shared her thoughts on how being the sister of legendary hip hop producer Timbaland has affected her career.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: What inspired you to write Giving Face: The Art to Looking Flawless for Every Occasion?
RASHON: I was inspired to write my book mainly because of my love for beauty, and the desire to make both women and men look and feel amazing. My primary goal was to educate and provide instruction for people who want to learn about men’s grooming, beauty applications, and appropriate makeup looks for different occasions. I felt that I needed to pen a book about makeup etiquette, because so many women struggle with deciding how much makeup they should be wearing, how to apply it, and the correct colors to choose for their complexions.
BE: Why do you think products from your #PrettyGirlGangCosmetics sold out so quickly after launching the line? Were you surprised?
RASHON: #PrettyGirlGangCosmetics was launched in December 2015. Before our official launch, my team and I promoted and marketed the line by utilizing social media as a tool to attract followers and bring awareness to the company website.
After the product became available, we collaborated with beauty salons in different cities for pop-up shop events. We participated in charity benefits as vendors, where we showcased and sold the cosmetics. We also offered a gift bag promotional giveaway contest on our social media platforms, where our followers could enter by registering their email on the company website for a chance to win. This helped us build our mailing list, and we were able to make new customers and send email blasts about promotional discounts, product additions, and upcoming events. Last year, #PrettyGirlGangCosmetics debuted during New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016, alongside swimwear designer Stacey Angela. By creating such a huge buzz, we increased our brand awareness and continued to gain followers on social media, build our network, generate more customers, and attract the attention of beauty influencers within the industry.
Overall, I can honestly say that I was surprised that we sold out so quickly. I attribute the rapid success of the brand to my team, [who helped] promote the brand before its official launch [via] social media, [which led to] the press we received. Women were purchasing the products for themselves, and men were buying items for their wives and girlfriends. Because of this, I felt confident, and I was reassured the brand would do well.
BE: What changes have you noticed within the beauty industry, in regards to black women, throughout the course of your career?
RASHON: The limited colors of foundations available for African American skin are a thing of the past. Most brands today have products available in every shade, formulated specifically for African American women, in comparison to cosmetic brands many decades ago. Additionally, there are more cosmetic ads today featuring an array of women of color, with skin tones ranging from light beige to ebony. There are even custom blended foundations and powders on the market, which can be created to suit all complexions perfectly. In many cases, foundation and powders are the most difficult to match for African American skin because of undertones—so [meeting] this [need more effectively] would be ideal.
BE: What are three essential makeup tips that you like to share with your clients?
RASHON: Three tips that I share with my clients are:
- To maintain healthy skin, the most important thing to remember is to remove any makeup before bedtime, and always moisturize.
- Another recommendation would be to clean makeup brushes regularly with brush cleaner. Residue can build up, and brushes can harbor bacteria, which lead to breakouts. Sponges and beauty blenders can be cleaned, however, I would discard them after a few uses. Sponges absorb products, which can seep into the pores, and makeup can become difficult to remove.
- I also advise my clients to [start by] applying less makeup, and then apply more as needed.
BE: What advice would you give to other individuals looking to break into the beauty industry?
RASHON: [To understand the fundamentals of makeup, I first suggest checking out] free online tutorials [offered on sites like YouTube]. These videos are essentially a great way to learn contouring, highlighting, and basic makeup applications.
The advice I would give to anyone looking to break into the beauty industry, or to someone who is already working in the industry, but looking to elevate their career, would be to attend a cosmetology school and become a certified makeup artist, a licenced cosmetologist, or esthetician. Attending workshops and makeup classes is also an excellent way to learn specialty techniques and special FX makeup. Know that building a portfolio of your work and creating a reel is needed for submission to agencies, if your seeking representation.
BE: As the sister of iconic music producer Timbaland, would you say being related to a celebrity is a blessing, curse, or both—and why?
RASHON: By having such a dynamic family involved in the entertainment industry, I can say that, overall, it has been a blessing. Not once have I ever taken anything for granted, and I have always put a great deal of effort into everything I’m involved in.
However, at times, it can also be a disadvantage, because people may assume that I am given opportunities or offered special treatment based on my family and their status. I have other family members who are celebrities that work in the entertainment industry, as well. Aside from my brother being an iconic producer, innovator, and celebrity, my cousin is actress Gloria Hendry, who was the first African American Bond girl and love interest to Roger Moore in Live and Let Die. In some cases, my family has [helped to] open doors for me, and I am always grateful for any opportunities that I am given.
BE: Do you have any additional tips or advice for our audience?
RASHON: Moisturizing is essential in the morning and evening to maintain supple skin. Also, drinking lemon water daily will help brighten your completion.
[Most importantly, know that] beauty is as much internal as it is external. It is essential for women to feel beautiful from within, and makeup should be used to enhance your natural beauty by covering obvious flaws and accentuating your best features.
These topics and other helpful beauty tips are covered in my book Giving Face: The Art to Looking Flawless for Every Occasion, available at Amazon.
For more information on Courtney Rashon, follow her on social media:
For more information on #PrettyGirlGangCosmetics, follow the brand on social media:
Selena Hill is the Associate Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and the founder of Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio. You can hear Hill and her team talk millennial politics and social issues every Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.