By Robin James
Popular makeup brands are catering to women of color now more than ever as companies examine and rethink the importance and power of reaching this unique audience. Celebrities like Queen Latifah (Cover Girl Queen Collection) and Salma Hayek (Nuance cosmetics line for CVS) have their own makeup lines for women and are budding entrepreneurs in the field of makeup and beauty products. As a result, they are changing the way we approach beauty.
This year, Fashion Fair, the prestigious cosmetics brand for Black women, celebrates its 40th anniversary. If you’re like most women, you’re looking for great makeup at an affordable price that also comes highly recommended. So, who’s making the cut?
Entrepreneur and business owner of Embellishments by Evette, Evette Brown is the person to ask as she’s recently launched her own line of cosmetics, Women of Color. Brown, a Minneapolis-based professional makeup artist (private label cosmetics) who has over 20 years of experience in the field of makeup, has worked in film, television, runway, theater, and print ads, as well as the two major film award shows. She’s passionate about helping women look and feel beautiful.
During her last 10 years while working in New York, Italy, France and Palm Springs, California, she developed her color cosmetics line. Women of color, as underscored in the brand’s name, are the focus of her line.
She found it very difficult to find and match the correct foundation as well as eye, cheek and lip color for a varied spectrum of complexions, which is why she created Embellishments by Evette. Her attitude is this: All women are beautiful, so let’s embellish them for all to see.
The MSR caught up with Brown (EB) to discuss her thoughts and perspectives on her business and the world of makeup.
MSR: What year did you launch your company Embellishments by Evette?
EB: I launched the company in 2012 at the Walker Art Center.
MSR: Why did you decide to become a professional makeup artist?
EB: Actually, I didn’t decide. I kind of ran into that as by fluke. I’m an interior designer. I was looking for work as an interior designer in Europe. A woman saw me in a design studio near a store in Italy and she said, “I know you wanted to do some window displays, but I think that if you tried you could be a very good makeup artist.”
I said, “Oh no, never.” [But]I found out that I had a talent for it, and I didn’t realize it. Before that I was never really that interested in makeup. I would do something to myself. It just happened to work out lovely.
MSR: Did you attend a beauty school?
EB: No, everything just fell into place. Things opened up for me in Italy. And then from Italy I was able to go from the Italian Riviera from Genoa to the Monte Carlo and France. And so I ended up working there in the profession. Then, when I left there, I was in California and I ended up working for Lancôme. And everything just took off from there.
MSR: The idea of Embellishments by Evette was sparked by what?
EB: It started initially from when I would be doing makeup artistry for women on the very high end. As I was working on someone who wasn’t a woman of color, I would see women of color standing on the sidelines, very shy, very insecure, and yet they would walk over to me and they would say, quietly, “Do you happened to have anything for me…for my skin?”
And the companies never did. And I would always say to myself, “You know…I’m going to do something about that one day.” And I started working on it.
It would be Asian, or a woman who was African, or a woman who was Hispanic — there was nothing at that time period for them. So, I sat down and started embracing all the things I wanted a company to be for myself, or for a product to do for me. And that’s how I got started.
MSR: What do you think about the recent focus that popular makeup brands like CoverGirl and Revlon are placing on women of color?
EB: I think it’s about time someone woke up and paid attention to that vast market that was being ignored. There are a lot of …women of color [who], my perception of it is, we’re chemists… You have to take a foundation and you look at it through the package and you would say, “Boy, I wonder if that’s my color.” You get it home and you find out it isn’t. You get something else. You mix it up together in order to get your color.
So, I think there’s a huge market that was being ignored for a very long time, and it still is to a certain extent. So, I’m happy to see that they’re finally paying attention to that.
MSR: Who are two of the celebrity pros in your field that you admire right now?
EB: There is a young man in Chicago, Sam Fine.
MSR: I just read he is the creator of the new Fashion Fair line that’s celebrating its 40th anniversary.
EB: I appreciate his work. Right now, he’s the only one that actually comes to mind as far as someone really working on women of color.
MSR: Let’s talk popular makeup brands. Who are your top three favorites?
EB: I do like Mac. I like their lipsticks. I like Urban Decay. I like their eye shadows, and Lancôme.
MSR: In terms of popular, lower-end makeup brands, which are the ones that you’d recommend for usability and cost?
EB: For lower ends, I like Wet & Wild. Rimmel and NYX. I’m picking things that a woman of color — no matter what color she is — might be able to translate over to if she can’t find something else. I hate to do this, but companies like Chanel, they don’t really make anything for a woman of color. And I’ve worked for them, too.
It’s difficult. They say they do, but…I don’t know.
For more information on the Women of Color Line by Embellisments by Evette, contact her at 952-200-3501 or [email protected]
Robin James welcomes reader responses to [email protected]