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How defiant Iman built a $25m beauty empire – after retailers told her ‘black women don’t buy liquid foundation’

Iman has proven beauty retailers wrong with her successful make-up line, after they told her that ‘black women don’t buy liquid foundation’.

Focusing on difficult-to-find shades for ethnic women, the supermodel’s namesake cosmetic company has become a $25million business.

After nearly two-decades modelling, and mixing foundation formulations for make-up artists to use on her, Iman launched her line at JCPenney in 1994.

To take Iman Cosmetics to the mass market, she signed a deal with Procter & Gamble in 2004, but distributors like Walgreens and Target responded to it with caution.

‘I didn’t understand that it was if they have 1,000 doors, only 200 are for women of color,’ she said.

Retailers then tried to place her products at the back of their stores, which they see as the ‘ethnic section’.

‘It was a no-go. They wanted me to be placed at the back, which they considered, like it is, for the ethnic section, which I was totally against.’

And despite her soaring sales, she admitted that trying to secure distribution has been a challenge for both brick-and-mortar and online stores.


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4 Responses to How defiant Iman built a $25m beauty empire – after retailers told her ‘black women don’t buy liquid foundation’

  1. Elizabeth Reply

    June 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    This is hilarious! I have always used liquid makeup although I use another brand by a leading African-American company.

    I think African-American women should not buy brown lipstick. I hate to see us without color on our lips…who told you to wear nude lipstick?

    Tip: Apply your liquid make-up with a sponge and make sure you have the right color to match you. Go to a make-up counter and get a trained African-American person to help you.

  2. Shawty Reply

    June 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    This is infuriating! …from the back of the bus to the back of the stores!!! :-(

  3. Joy Reply

    June 4, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I use Iman cleanser,moisturizer, foundation and loose powder. They are perfect and made for us women of color.Try it

  4. easy methods to pull in females Reply

    December 23, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Well done partner this is good

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