MENTAL WELLNESS BOX 'Q & A': CHEEKBONE BEAUTY COSMETICS
In this week’s blog post, we’re highlighting one of the amazing companies involved in our MENTAL WELLNESS BOX project. With the theme of Mother’s Day in mind, we curated products from across North America, specifically reaching out to companies with a mental wellness/mental health component to their company.
CHEEKBONE BEAUTY is an Indigenous-owned and founded, digitally-native, Canadian cosmetics company established in 2016 by Jennifer Harper. Throughout her life, Jenn struggled to accept her Indigenous roots as she lived with her Caucasian mother. She was estranged from her Indigenous family for much of her child and adult life. After learning about her grandmother’s experience in residential schools, she understood how her family was affected by generational trauma. This drove her to understand and overcome her own struggle with alcoholism, and led her to be reunited with her family, including her brother B. J.. She also began to learn about and explore her Indigenous family history and culture.
During the development of CHEEKBONE BEAUTY, Jenn researched the current makeup landscape as well as charities that are helping close the educational funding gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. After in depth research, the Cheekbone team found the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society (FNCFCS), and the connection between their mission and Jenn’s family experience was serendipitous.
To date, CHEEKBONE BEAUTY has donated over $108,000 in total to a wide variety of causes. They continue to support the FNCFCS by donating 10% of their profits to SHENNEN’S DREAM. They also donate products to not-for-profits and other organizations, like the NAVAJO WATER PROJECT and ONE TREE PLANTED.
During Cheekbone’s infancy, Jenn endured a heavy personal loss with the suicide of her brother B.J. This loss, though difficult, has remained a driving force behind the desire to see CHEEKBONE BEAUTY succeed with its mission, to empower Indigenous youth.
Based out of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, CHEEKBONE BEAUTY is known for creating high quality, cruelty-free beauty products such as liquid lipsticks and complexion products, including contour and highlight palettes.
Keeping in line with her Anishinaabe roots, Jenn’s CHEEKBONE BEAUTY launched a less-waste line of lipsticks in 2020, called SUSTAIN, with zero-waste goals for 2023 (a featured item included in our MENTAL WELLNESS BOX). Cheekbone’s aim is to not only make a difference in the lives of Indigenous youth through their donations addressing the educational funding gap, but mostly to create a space in the beauty industry where Indigenous youth feel represented and seen.
In addition, Jenn strives to educate as many Canadians as possible about the Residential School System and the effects it has had on her family and friends through decades of generational trauma. She speaks regularly to university, college and high school students about social entrepreneurship, empathy and the history of her First Nations family. She has also been invited to speak to various entrepreneur groups, women in business associations, Apple Canada, and First Nations organizations.
As CHEEKBONE BEAUTY grows, so do their charitable goals, limiting the profitability of the organization. True to their roots, Cheekbone’s definition of success is not based on what you attain for yourself, but instead in what you give back to your community.
BRAND SPOTLIGHT: CHEEKBONE BEAUTY
JENNIFER: Hi Jenn! I am so thrilled to be speaking with you today. I’m blown away by the company you have built and your mission. It is such an honour to have you here, and I’m so grateful to have your participation on our MENTAL WELLNESS BOX for the Mother’s Day edition. To get started, could you tell us more about CHEEKBONE BEAUTY and how this all came to be?
JENN: Hi Jennifer. Well thank you for that intro. Yes, I founded CHEEKBONE BEAUTY in 2016. It is a digitally native direct-to-consumer brand that is helping Indigenous youth see themselves in a beauty brand. At the same time, we use the concept of ‘Life-Cycle Thinking’ in the brands ethos and in developing our latest line of products. We are working towards creating a new segment in the beauty industry - Sustainable Socially Conscious Beauty.
JENNIFER: That’s pretty impressive. Not only have you created this large company in the cosmetics industry, but you’re also changing the industry as well. Very inspiring. Now I know mental wellness is a big part of CHEEKBONE BEAUTY, so can you tell us a bit more about your goals regarding mental health?
JENN: Yes, it is. At CHEEKBONE BEAUTY, we have an Employee Resource Board/Program Guide that lists dozens of free, 24/7 counselling and mental health resources available for all our team members, at all times. We also offer an Employee Benefits Plan that includes a comprehensive Employee Assistance Plan, including a wellness program. Every week we have a virtual team meeting and in that meeting we take time to talk about how we’re feeling, how we can help if one of our team members is overwhelmed, and what each of us uses as coping mechanisms for stress. My goal is to make sure our team feels supported at all times.
JENNIFER: That’s a lot of support around mental health for your team members. Sounds like a great place to work! Can you tell me a little bit about some upcoming projects or collaborations you have on the horizon?
JENN: Yes, we have some exciting news but I can’t quite share it yet so you will have to stay tuned! For now, I can tell you that June is a very important month for Indigenous people and quite a few launches will be revealed then!
JENNIFER: The suspense...!!! Okay, we will all stay tuned for the big news. So, what made CHEEKBONE BEAUTY say YES to being a part of our MENTAL WELLNESS BOX project?
JENN: The loss of my brother B.J. and my own mental health struggles play a big role in why it is so important to create a space for open and honest conversations. And if a swipe of lipstick helps at least one person put a smile back on their face during this difficult year, then we are one step in the right direction!
JENNIFER: Couldn’t agree more, Jenn. We have to do what we can to ride the waves of our mental health... Especially right now. With the global pandemic we’ve all been dealing with for over a year now, what are the tools or coping strategies that have helped you get through this unprecedented time?
JENN: Nature has been instrumental for me to cope with all the stress around the pandemic. I walk every morning to take time to reflect and learn from nature. If I don’t walk in the morning, my day just is not the same!
JENNIFER: I couldn’t agree more. I also love to walk in nature, although I don’t always get to do it every day. I call it ‘Forest Bathing’! Very essential during these times. Well, thank you again for being a part of our MENTAL WELLNESS BOX project. I sit here in awe of what you’ve created and all the community-based work and support you are providing. I can’t wait to watch CHEEKBONE BEAUTY grow even more! Thanks for your time today Jenn; I really appreciate this.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHEEKBONE BEAUTY CLICK HERE.
ORDER THE MAY 2021 MENTAL WELLNESS BOX BY CLICKING HERE.