IT girl calls for beauty rethink

 IT Cosmetics co-founder and CEO Jamie Kern Lima has called on beauty industry leaders to rethink the images of beauty they use to sell their products.

Speaking at the 2017 Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) awards ceremony in New York where she was honoured with a prestigious Achiever Award, Kern Lima said IT Cosmetic’s success was proof that women don’t need “unattainable images of aspiration” to buy beauty products.

“We did something at IT Cosmetics that has never been done before in luxury beauty,” she said.

“We became a top-selling brand by using real women of all shapes, sizes, skin tones and skin issues.

“Our success is proof to the beauty industry that you don’t need to use unattainable images of aspiration for women to buy your products.

“I think women are tired of seeing images that don’t look like them.

“When it comes to the images of beauty that we see as women, I believe IT Cosmetics is proof that the power of the people is greater than the people in power! It’s time for change.”

Kern Lima told her audience of female executives that a defining moment in her career came when a potential investor rejected her business due to her appearance.

“He said ‘I’m just not sure women would buy makeup from someone who looks like you with your body and weight.”

After recovering from shock and disbelief, Kern Lima decided she was going to “make it a mission” to prove him wrong, or if was right, to change such attitudes.

Therefore, despite advice to the contrary, she went on her first 10-minute QVC (for Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer) with herself and other “real women” as models.

“I decided to remove my makeup and show my bright red rosacea and show live how our products work,” she said.

“I cast models like Helen who’s 73 and Alicia who’s African American with acne-prone skin and Desiree who has hereditary under eye circles…”

Although “no one had ever done this and every indicator said it wouldn’t work”, the ‘sold out’ sign went up within 10 minutes.

“I cried not only because my company was going to stay alive but I cried because I realised in that moment real women let their voices be heard. They voted, and I realised we can change this.”

Today IT Csometics is QVC’s top-selling makeup line and a top selling brand in ULTA Beauty and Sephora.

Kern Lima started IT in her living room and recently sold the company to L’Oréal.

The purchase was L’Oréal’s largest acquisition to date and made Kern Lima the first female CEO in L’Oréal’s 100+ year history.

Prior to launching IT, Kern Lima was an award-winning TV News anchor with “beauty challenges including sparse brows and sensitive skin” who could “never find products that truly worked”.

She was recently named on the 2017 Forbes Magazine’s Most Successful Self-Made Women List, the Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, WWD’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Beauty and is part of the Harvard Women’s Leadership Forum.

This year’s other CEW Achiever Award honorees were Barbara Calcagni (NARS Cosmetics), Maureen Kelly (Tarte Cosmetics), Gemma Lionello (Nordstrom), Loretta Miraglia (La Mer) and Kelly Vanasse (P&G Global).


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