Those who know Cashmere Nicole best describe her as beauty activist, and the moniker fits her quite well. If you haven't heard of Cashmere's groundbreaking company Beauty Bakerie, you will soon. The brand officially launched in select Ulta stores this month, and with its bakery-themed packaging, quality product, and inspiring CEO, Beauty Bakerie is set for a major rise in the beauty industry
The brand is perhaps most well-known for its makeup inspired by desserts and sweet treats. You'll often see the brand refer to adding oil, flour, and eggs to its 30 shade Cake Mix Foundation range. Those additional "ingredients" are its Wake & Bake Face Oil, Makeup Blending Egg, and Flour Setting Powder. But complexion products aren't all the brand offers. Its crafted gorgeous sugary-themed liquid lipsticks like its Ginger Snap Lip Whip, and recently launched its Game of Cones Eyeshadow Palette.
The force behind the sugary brand, however, is the ultimate reason for its success — and that force is 34-year-old Cashmere. Not only is Cashmere a breast cancer survivor and self-made woman, but she's also helping to dismantle racism in the beauty industry through building her company around true inclusion.
When I spoke with Cashmere a few days after the Oct. 28 launch of Beauty Bakerie in Ulta, she was just coming off the high. In fact, she admitted that she's been so busy that she hasn't even been into a store to see the displays. Her mother, however, did go to see the IRL store spots — and adorably bought Cashmere a lip gloss from her own company.
But what's most important to Cashmere isn't going to see the display. It's hearing and seeing the customers' reactions to them.
"Just in terms of my relationship with our customers, I was just really happy to be able to give this to them," the brand owner explains, "It is the accessibility and the experience of just being able to take it off of the web and into a store that they can frequent and that they can reach."
Accessibility is integral to the way Cashmere runs her business. As a black business owner and consumer, she's intimately aware of the challenges of access many black people face when shopping for makeup. Her aunts used to sell Avon when Cashmere was a young girl, and she still remembers how they could never find the correct shade for their rich, deep skin. When shopping for makeup as an adult, Cashmere remembers reaching down to the bottom shelf to find both her and her teenage daughter's shade.
It was these experiences that have made Beauty Bakerie an intersectional and revolutionary beauty brand focused on bridging the gaps in the beauty industry.
"I don’t want a group of marginalized people to feel even more marginalized and to not be able to have the experience that everyone else is having," she explains. "It goes beyond even us as black people. There’s the individuals who may be handicapped who might not be having a good experience because no one considered componetry or the positioning of the products. I want to be that thoughtful. I want to go that far to make sure we have done our best to make sure everyone experiences really leaves them leaving the store in the way you see the girl in the ad leaving the store."
One way the brand is adding thoughtful action to its products is by labeling its 30 shade foundation range in "reverse." Not only did Beauty Bakerie, an indie brand, commit to launching 30 shades (a number some major makeup brands don't reach), but instead of listing the lightest shades first, Beauty Bakerie does the opposite. The deepest shade of their Cake Mix Foundation starts the range which means that those who experienced reaching down on shelves for their shade like Cashmere, are now at the top.
For Cashmere, though, the issues within the beauty community go even beyond the large scale like shade ranges. She explains that microaggressions, like asking if her brand is only for black women, can be just as harmful.
To people who asks those questions, Cashmere has one response: "You have white-owned brands that don't have my shade...so are those brands just for white women?"
There may just be no one more dedicated to making the world of beauty more inclusive than Cashmere. In fact, while some may see other brands as competition, she see them as partners to help her build a more inclusive industry.
"I just care about fixing it," she says. "I don’t want to argue with a brand. I don’t want to. I’m not throwing shade at another brand. I do not care. That is their journey. I know what we are going to do, and I know what problems we are going to fix, and I know exactly how we are going to get them done."
Beauty Bakerie and Cashmere's philosophy is all about unity and conversation, not building walls. In fact, during our conversation, she said if there are any brands also looking to change the industry and dismantle racism within it, she wants to talk.
"You know, we’ve been told that we’re activists in makeup — that we’re pretty involved when it comes to the politics of makeup," she says. "I just want to create change, and I’d love to do that with any brand that’s all about progressiveness and moving forward and changing things.
"There’s no walls here. There’s no walls. There’s access from anyone who wants to create change."