I’ve always adored makeup, even though I rarely saw myself as an African American female depicted in Maybelline or Cover Girl ads, when I was growing up during the ’60s and ’70s. Of course there were the models Sandi Collins, Donyale Luna, Pat Cleveland, Beverly Johnson and Naomi Sims, but they always seemed too perfect for me to relate to. Instead my mother Jacqueline, was my role model. Elegantly dressed in Evan-Picone separates and suits, hair perfectly coiffed, and makeup impeccable she was the epitome of chic. In February, when she passed away at 82, this is the version I remember of her, and still look to for inspiration.
The Department Store
The only other time I really examined and became aware of how much makeup could enhance one’s looks was during my Freshman year at Holy Names College the private university I attended from 1979-1980 in Oakland, California. At 17 1/2, and fresh out of a six-week makeover course at John Robert Powers Modeling School I was happy with the tailored pants, colorful blouses, midi skirts, pullover sweaters, soft dresses and heels I wore, but I didn’t feel the same about my makeup. Back home, in Los Angeles, California the simple “makedown” technique I learned at JRP didn’t suit my new lifestyle and I needed an update.
“You should go to San Francisco, then visit one of the major department stores there, and have a makeup session with a cosmetics clerk.”
I consulted one of my new friends, an African American model, and asked her what to do. “You should go to San Francisco, then visit one of the major department stores there, and have a makeup session with a cosmetics clerk,” she said. “After she shows you how to apply everything, you should buy it, so you can do your own makeup once you get back to school.” Unfortunately in 1979, there was still a lot of bias against African Americans, within the beauty industry,, so I wasn’t surprised when the Caucasian clerk I worked with at the Cosmetics counter, didn’t know how to help me at first. Finally after experimenting with a variety of foundations, concealers, blushes, eye shadows, and lipsticks she found the perfect combination for my olive skin tone. She even suggested blue, pink and purple eyeshadow to bring out my brown eyes and deep fuchsia lipstick to balance my overall maquillage. Slightly disco, but radiant, the two hours I spent recreating her expertise everyday in front of my dorm room mirror increased my self-confidence when I most needed it.
Dealing with Beauty Challenges
Besides not seeing enough Black representation in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and the other fashion magazines I’ve read throughout the years, personally I’ve had issues with acne, vitiligo, skin discolorations and dark spots caused by lupus and Stage II A Breast Cancer. Now that I’m older, I’m also dealing with challenges related to age. Despite all of this I’ve become more determined than ever to find makeup companies that’re inclusive regardless of the race, age, sex or lifestyle of their target market. It was during this continuous search that I discovered Juvia’s Place https://www.juviasplace.com/.
Juvia’s Place Makeup
Created by Chichi Eburu, an entrepreneur from Nigeria, it premiered in 2015. Working with the small budget of $2,000 out of her apartment, her goal was to offer a line that complimented darker skin tones. Initially I was hesitant about how the makeup would look on me, since my skin is medium-toned and I have a plethora of facial issues, but once I perused the website I decided to try it anyway. After ordering the I Am Magic Velvety Matte Foundation, the I Am Magic Concealer, the Multi-Purpose Foundation Sticks, the Afrique Blush, the So Red Velvety Matte Lipstick and the Masquerade Palette eyeshadow kit I applied my purchases and photographed myself wearing my pink and blue Oh Shitake! print Zuri dress.
Vibrant and complimentary I truly felt like Nefertiti, or one of the other African queens that inspired Eburu, when she envisioned this line. Truly inclusive, I later discovered her customer base “includes men, women, and individuals with all types of skin tones.” Besides the stunning packaging, the other thing that sets Juvia’s Place apart, within the industry, is the way Eburu was able to become successful by emphasizing “the African concept of beauty” instead of the European. She even named her company after her two children-Juwa, her son and Olivia, her daughter. Her ultimate goal? “To make blackness as mainstream as its counterparts and for people to see and love blackness.”