How This Indigenous Woman Is Building A Better Beauty Community
"Our home, this earth, is a gift, and we've really not done a great job of caring for it as human beings," says Jenn Harper, the founder of Cheekbone Beauty (a certified B-Corp company). Harper is Anishinaabe, an indigenous group native to North America, which she says has influenced much of her relationship with beauty, the Earth, and how she defines success.
The brand—which features clean makeup, high-quality, traceable ingredients, and more sustainable packaging materials, such as paper—has caught the attention of beauty insiders and everyday consumers alike. (The Sustain Lipstick in Kéyah is currently my favorite "your lips but better" shade.) And in this week's Clean Beauty School, I had Harper on to share her story, explain why representation matters, and talk about the current challenges in being a "sustainable beauty brand" within the context of consumption.
Why we should redefine what it means to be "successful."
The entire episode is worth a listen, but one part of the conversation I can't stop thinking about was a section where Harper and I spoke about how we define success as a society—and what it means to be a "successful beauty brand."
"In Western culture, success is defined by what you attain for yourself and your family. In my culture, with indigenous people, the whole idea of success centers around what you do for your community,” says Harper, explaining why she thinks it's important for brands to give back as part of their business model. "The way I was raised, you're perceived as being successful or have done something of iconic value when you have achieved something for your community."
This is something we can all take part in: To put community first means to make more conscious decisions for the Earth. (As Harper reminds us, this is our home.) It also means creating a beauty space where all feel included and represented. Finally, it can mean how we show up for those who need help.
"There are bad things that happen to all of us in all our lives. And I’m always about shifting our mindset: Go do something for someone else, because it'll take your mind off all your own problems," she says. "It’s just as simple as thinking: What could I do for somebody else right now that's gonna help me shift my mentality?"
Clearly, in this podcast episode, we get into far more than beauty basics. (But don’t worry, we also touch on makeup and ingredients, too!). Tune in to hear more.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.