Jamie Kern Lima built herself a global makeup brand and empire with IT Cosmetics. The makeup brand, which was later acquired by L’Oréal for an estimated $1.2 billion in 2016, was originally created by Kern Lima in her living room in 2008. A former Miss Washington USA 1999, former contestant on the first season of Big Brother, and former news anchor in California, Kern Lima was inspired to create the brand as a way to address her own beauty needs – which, simply put, weren’t being met.
Working as a television broadcaster, Kern Lima often had to go to work at unusual hours and be camera-ready for morning segments. There’s a lot of pressure to look good on camera, and Kern Lima was no stranger to public scrutiny. However, in Kern Lima’s case, it wasn’t just about looking good in front of the camera (and in HD no less) but feeling good on the inside as well. For her it was simple; applying the right kind of makeup did make a difference. But when it came to her hereditary rosacea and sparse brows, she was disappointed with what the market had to offer.
So, Kern Lima did what any future entrepreneur would do: She decided to solve the problem herself and launched Innovative Technology. Lima formulated a business plan (while on her honeymoon flight) and was determined to assemble a team of the best dermatologists and plastic surgeons possible to create beauty products that could solve women’s lesser-known beauty problems. It wasn’t about mass-producing the most palettes or shades, but rather addressing previously unaddressed skincare issues.
Today, IT Cosmetics headquarters are in Jersey City, New Jersey, where Kern Lima lives with her husband (and IT co-founder), Palo Lima, whom she met in a statistics class while working on her MBA from Columbia Business School. Kern Lima currently still serves as IT’s CEO and is one of the only females to hold such a position under the L’Oréal umbrella.
The real success of IT Cosmetics began once Kern Lima started advertising her products on QVC, the flagship home shopping channel in the US, which it had taken her two years to land a 10-minute spot on. Kern Lima was an instant hit, as audiences immediately connected with her bright on-air persona and storytelling ability. Kern Lima made the bold decision to use her products live on the air and on women of all ages, instead of just younger models like most other brands. She would also take off her own makeup on camera and use her products on herself to prove that they worked. Her authenticity won people over.
During her first live segment, IT Cosmetics completely sold out, and the company has done 200 shows each year since. As of 2017, IT became one of the largest beauty brands in QVC’s history. Prior to all of this success, though, Lima had been told “no” by everybody she’d met with. Along with previous rejections from QVC, she had also been turned down by Sephora and Ulta Beauty, both of which are now partners with IT Cosmetics.
Learning how to persevere through those times is what made Kern Lima into the entrepreneur that she is today. However, there’s been some recent backlash against the brand and its limited range of shades. Since the release of brands like Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, there has been a real push in the beauty industry for proper representation and inclusivity, especially for women of colour (and rightly so).
The story of Jamie Kern Lima and IT Cosmetics is one of a woman who took it upon herself to create the product that she herself saw a need for in the market, and was rewarded for it. She’s a worthy example of the entrepreneurial spirit and proof that ambition, drive, and perseverance will ultimately win the day.
Rhea Braganza | Staff Writer
Photo Credit: It Cosmetics