It's no secret that the beauty industry hasn't always been an inclusive space. I remember spending my teen years trawling the length and breadth of Oxford Street just to find an affordable foundation shade to match my complexion. In recent years, the beauty industry has definitely become more inclusive in the shade ranges offered, and there are more and more black-owned beauty businesses catering to black women and people of colour. Beauty Bakerie is a leading example of that, with a founder who fought adversity to create the sweetest beauty treats.
Founded back in 2011 by Cashmere Nicole, Beauty Bakerie launched in the UK earlier this year and all their products are inspired by baking. When launching the brand, Nicole was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. However, despite these challenges, her team adopted a "Better Not Bitter" approach and a focus on giving back, which has served them well.
The brand has now been championed by none other than Beyoncé, who saw a video where Nicole told her story about her diagnosis. In October 2014, Beyoncé then featured Nicole on her website for Breast Cancer Awareness Week, with a card and flowers following from Queen Bey. Nicole later told Refinery29 that Beyoncé's support was the "fuel she needed" to go for it with Beauty Bakerie, and since then, Beyoncé has rocked several of the brands iconic Lip Whips on her Instagram. I spoke with Nicole about getting Queen Bey's seal of approval, handling her diagnosis, and learning why we should listen to women going through adversity.
Lollie King: How did you feel when Beyoncé reached out to you?
Cashmere Nicole: I couldn’t believe it. I was in recovery from a major breast surgery so I don’t think I was coherent initially. The next day when the blog post was live, I was shaking so bad I couldn’t text or alert my family and friends. I was extremely excited. Now, in hindsight I understand the power of a voice. It moved me. I hope to move others in that way to pursue their wildest dreams.
LK: You've spoken about your cancer diagnosis in interviews and have said you felt you needed to tell you story because "scars don't make you broken, they make you beautiful." What role did make up play during this time in your life, and did it take on a new meaning for you?
CN: It still blows my mind that I got breast cancer after deciding to support breast cancer awareness a year prior. So initially, I was supporting simply for loving giving back and loving the color pink. When it became my reality, I took on more action. I hate that it took a diagnosis for me to be more involved, but this is my story and this is how my cookie crumbled. It has now brought so many people into my life. My struggle has drawn people who I inspire and who inspire me.
LK: A part of the brand is giving back with your Sugar Homes initiative, where you ""sweeten the lives of others" by donating money, clothes, toys, and other things needed to orphanages all around the globe. But what was it in particular that made you choose Hopeworth Children's Foundation in Uganda?
CN: I was on a mission to find children in need right now today and I spent 6 months crossing all of my t’s and dotting my i’s and one day, I stopped and said it doesn’t matter if the home is registered with the city, it doesn’t matter if the children are on the street right now or in someone’s care, whoever they are and wherever they are they need help and I wanted to focus solely on giving that help not so much tons of information coming your way such as what countries need more help or what people need more help, I felt if I just began somewhere I could grow from there and they were the first I found personally.
LK: How would you like people to feel when they are using Beauty Bakerie products?
CN: I want them to recognise that smudge free was made to give them back moments that should be spent being lived, and not spent touching up their makeup the 8-15 times per day that we typically would... I want them to have a deeper appreciation for life, with or without tragedy.
LK: You have spoken about using Shonda Rimes' quote about using the word 'normalise' instead of 'diversity' in creating Beauty Bakerie. Have you faced any resistance to wanting this inclusivity?
CN: Shonda Rimes said it plain and simple. Our offerings should reflect the world we live in. I haven’t faced any resistance. It seems that we all want equal opportunities in purchasing and wearing our beauty products. I am simply facilitating that opportunity. I want the conversation to change and once we all feel invited, we can talk about the actual party, the experience overall.
LK: Do you have any advice for women overcoming adversity?
CN: I think that if they’re overcoming, they probably have advice for the rest of us and it probably sounds cliche or something like, “don’t give up”, but in my hardest moments, I had to set the pity aside, I had to show up for myself and say, “don’t you dare give up right now.” It all looks easy. It isn’t. So you have to keep going so you can enjoy the reward on the other side of that challenge.
Beauty Bakerie offers everything from eyeshadows, to bronzer palettes, eyeliner, to blending sponges. But these are my picks of the Beauty Bakerie products you need right now.