Models Inc.

After the lights went down on their runway careers, these former fashionistas stepped into the role of business owner

and France in 1997. Since then, distribution has been extended to Brazil, Africa, and the Caribbean. A second line, I-IMAN Makeup, was introduced in 2000 but was phased out to focus on the Iman Cosmetics expansion.

Her products were originally available through the television outlet QVC and JC Penney, but Iman was forced to rethink her distribution strategy when the department store eliminated cosmetics counters. By early 2004, Iman had started moving her product into such mass-market retailers as Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and Target. In October 2004, she signed a distribution deal with Procter & Gamble to expand the brand. Since the initial entry into the mass market, the number of stores carrying the product has increased by 50%, as have sales.

The other major challenge during the development of the company was internal. “Prior to P&G, my business partners didn’t have the same vision that I had,” Iman says. “I wanted to create a cosmetics and skincare company at the same time, because as black women, we’re always shortchanged when it comes to skincare. I wanted to have the first products for us with SPF factor. And everybody thought, especially my business partners, it’s a waste of time because black women don’t care about sun protection. Well, the sun does not discriminate, and we do care.” < br />
Bucking another misconception, Iman wanted to be the first
brand to create bronzers for women of color. It was another product she was told she didn’t need. “At the end of the day, since I’m the one whose name is on the product and it’s my legacy, I wanted to have more of the say-so,” she says, explaining why she parted ways with her original partners. The 51-year-old owns 51% of the New York-based company and oversees day-to-day operations and the creative side of the business.

In October, the paperback version of her book The Beauty of Color: The Ultimate Beauty Guide for Skin of Color (Perigee Trade; $19.95) will be released. Iman says the book sums up the philosophy of her company: “When I started in beauty, the general market usually talked about the girl next door, which meant blonde hair, blue eyes. But the neighborhoods have changed now. I wanted to celebrate the new generation of women with skin of color that has now become the norm.”

Tyra Banks: The Next Top Mogul, Bankable Productions. The list of firsts is impressive: the first black model to land the covers of GQ, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and the Victoria’s Secret catalog. But last year, Banks retired from the career that made her famous — just before she turned the ripe old age of 32.

“I felt like it was important to walk away while you’re still on top,” she says, “and not be walking down the Victoria’s Secret runway and your booty’s jiggling, and it’s like ‘What is she doing? Do something else.’”

Before her modeling career, Banks was accepted

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