Cheekbone Beauty founder gives back to Indigenous communities and the environment
Jenn Harper, the visionary founder of Cheekbone Beauty, has successfully created the first-ever Indigenous-owned and operated cosmetics company that promotes sustainability, representation, and education for Indigenous youth. Discover how Cheekbone Beauty aims to have a lasting positive impact on Indigenous communities and the environment through its clean, vegan, and cruelty-free products.
In 2015, an extraordinary vision sparked the inception of Cheekbone Beauty. Its founder, Jenn Harper, was inspired by a captivating dream of Indigenous girls gleefully dabbing their lips with gloss. This powerful visualization set the foundation for a sustainable, Indigenous-owned and operated cosmetics company.
Fuelled by the desire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Indigenous youth, Harper and Cheekbone Beauty place a high priority on providing educational opportunities and ensuring representation within the beauty industry. As an Anishinaabe entrepreneur and member of the Northwest Angle #33 First Nation in Kenora, ON, Harper faced her own struggles in accepting her Indigenous heritage. After learning about her grandmother's distressing experience in a residential school, Harper recognized the far-reaching generational trauma affecting her family. This realization ignited her passion for creating a brand that would uplift and support Indigenous communities.
Harper's dedication to her mission and her appearance on CBC's Dragon's Den in 2019 brought her numerous awards and recognition. Among them, Chatelaine's "Woman of the Year" in 2019, and spots on Canadian Business's "2022 New Innovator's List" and Entrepreneur Magazine's list of "100 Women of Influence in 2022." She remains actively engaged in every aspect of Cheekbone Beauty, working closely with the company's chemist and sustainability experts to redefine beauty products by emphasizing sustainable components and packaging. The brand collaborates with organizations like Pact Collective, 1% for the Planet, and B Corp, illustrating its commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
At the core of Cheekbone's product development are the cardinal principles of honouring Indigenous roots, commitment to sustainability, and creating clean colorful cosmetics. These principles have helped Cheekbone Beauty become renowned for its high-quality, vegan, and cruelty-free sustainable products. True to Harper's Anishinaabe roots, the company launched its first low-waste line of lipsticks in 2020, named SUSTAIN, catering to those with a shared love for the earth. The company's Indigenous heritage forms an integral part of its brand identity, from product names to brand colours to its vibrant social media presence. It is this culture's resilience and richness that Cheekbone Beauty aims to celebrate.
Cheekbone Beauty emphasizes sustainability by aligning its operations with Indigenous teachings, striving to minimize environmental impact without compromising the product's quality and wearability. The company focuses on striking colours that mirror the bold, bright Indigenous culture, empowering everyone to express their unique selves while using safe, ethically sourced products.
To make products as eco-friendly as possible, Cheekbone Beauty's packaging is designed to be compostable, biodegradable, or even plantable. When available, its products are produced with locally sourced, plant-based ingredients. Harper also encourages customers to carefully consider the products they purchase, hoping to motivate people to adopt environmentally friendly choices.
In 2021, Cheekbone Beauty products became available on Sephora.ca, and its signature Aki lipstick started selling at nine physical Sephora locations. This monumental moment marked the first time that Sephora partnered with an Indigenous-owned brand, reflecting Cheekbone Beauty's increasing consumer appeal and high-quality offerings. Products span an extensive range of vegan and cruelty-free makeup, including complexion sticks, eyeshadow pencils, mascara, and brow gel.
The values seen through Cheekbone's products extend to its workplace as well. Cheekbone Beauty maintains a diverse and inclusive environment that fosters learning and development for all employees. The brand's cornerstone is its commitment to giving back to the Indigenous community. Contributions range from product and monetary donations to project-focused assistance. To date, more than $200,000 has been given to various causes.
In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, 2023, renowned makeup artist Elena Pacienza will lead a colour theory workshop in Toronto using Cheekbone Beauty products. This event highlights the importance of giving back to Indigenous communities and embodies Cheekbone Beauty's core values. Click here to view the workshop details.
Harper firmly believes that to find a purposeful cause, it's crucial to educate yourself and others about significant events—such as the experiences of Indigenous communities—while identifying ways that you and your community can contribute to making a positive impact. With Cheekbone Beauty, Harper solidifies her commitment to giving back to Indigenous communities and the environment.