Take 5 With...Jamie Kern Lima, Founder IT Cosmetics
From obscurity to a cult brand just acquired by L'Oreal, IT Cosmetics founder Jamie Kern Lima shares her sometimes rocky journey to success...
You know you must be onto something good when L'Oreal acquires your brand for $1.2 billion. But for Jamie Kern Lima, Founder of IT Cosmetics, it's just the icing on the cake.
A brand born out of Jamie's own battle with the skin condition Rosacea, she knew she was onto something big from day one, partnering with plastic surgeons and dermatologists to create a makeup brand with skincare at its core. With such credentials, it's little wonder that IT Cosmetics quickly found acclaim with celebrities and celebrity makeup artists, and most importantly, everyday the women of all ages (me included!) who helped spread the word about the brand, thus making it somewhat of an overnight success.
And though much is made of the brand's rapid climb to the top of the beauty ladder, such status quo did not come without a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.
Here Jamie chats with us about her own skin issues that led her to create IT Cosmetics, the ups and downs on her journey to success and the wisdom that these experiences have afforded her. PLUS she shares the places and people that inspire her and her IT Cosmetics must-haves.
How was your brand born?
When I set out to create IT Cosmetics, my entire mission was to create game-changing products that when in the hands of real women everywhere, give them life-changing results! Whether its for skin, or brows, or lashes or lips! Because nothing I had every tried, even at the highest price points, ever worked for me. Nothing would cover my Rosacea and if it did, it took layers of makeup and would crease, crack, and make me look ten years older. I knew that what I wanted to create had to be different from what has ever been done.
Partnering with plastic surgeons and dermatologists, experts in skin rejuvenation and aesthetics, we look at makeup completely differently at IT Cosmetics. We start each product as skincare first and we infuse color and coverage into it after. The results are skin-changing for so many IT Girls (our customers call themselves IT Girls, so amazing!). Most of our customers don’t have any skin issues at all, but they use IT Cosmetics because they can achieve coverage without it looking like they’re wearing makeup and the thing I hear most often is “I get compliments on my skin, not my makeup” and to me that is everything!!! I believe that great makeup can give you great skin…and set out to create a company that truly makes IT happen!
How did having Rosacea impact your life before creating IT Cosmetics?
Sometimes the hardest part of having a skin condition or really anything that makes you feel less than perfect, is understanding it doesn’t define you and that so many of us women are in the same boat together. I spent my career before IT as a news anchor on television. I worried about my skin, worried about my weight, I worried about my worries! I understand that sometimes what seems wrong overwhelms everything that is so very right. When I partnered with plastic surgeons and dermatologists to truly make makeup differently, my goal for IT Cosmetics is to truly change the way women look in the mirror. I live and breathe to create products that truly work, and aren’t just about covering things up, but are truly about giving women their most beautiful skin, and most beautiful selves. I want every woman to look in the mirror and only focus on what’s right! When’s the last time we truly did this? It’s time to literally change how we look in the mirror as women! Every woman is beautiful in her own unique way! Let’s embrace it together! My skin conditions led me to IT, to the IT Girls, to this IT Family that we’ve built together! It’s funny how all things happen for a reason!
What are your top tops for combating Rosacea and redness-prone skin?
The most important thing you can do if you have redness, Rosacea or sensitive skin is pay attention to the ingredients you put on your skin. So many cosmetics products have ingredients that can make your skin as you wear it. Even if a product covers your redness, it is has Comedogenic Ingredients like bismuth or chemical sunscreen that can cause irritation and aggravate your sensitive skin. This is why we work with plastic surgeons and dermatologists when creating our products. Great makeup can give you great skin but only if every ingredient included is chosen to treat your skin while you wear it, especially if you have sensitive skin like I do! Redness in your skin can need targeted coverage and this is why we created Bye Bye Redness™. Typically, green and yellow are the colors of products offered to counteract redness to the skin but they usually leave your skin with a greenish tinge that then needs additional coverage. Bye Bye Redness™ color corrects redness instantly, but we’ve micronized the green and yellow pigments and then have infused them into a transforming neutral beige full coverage treatment cream, that’s formulated to eliminate the look of redness from your skin without any additional coverage. It’s one simple step that makes redness disappear. If redness is your skin’s problem, Bye Bye Redness™ is your solution! Plus it has the soothing skin care benefits from colloidal oatmeal, anti-aging peptides, collagen, aloe and avocado.
Your makeup is loved by women of all ages, how have you been about to achieve this?
I am so proud that so many women call themselves IT Girls. We have generations of IT Girls – IT Moms, IT Daughters, IT Grandmoms, IT Survivors. Because we develop our products with plastic surgeons and dermatologists, the formulas are so skin-loving that women of all ages truly see a difference in their skin when they wear IT Cosmetics. From teens with acne to women with mature skin who are tired of makeup settling into and accentuating lines, IT Cosmetics truly are skincare with color infused so our products are completely different! I truly believe in every ounce of my being that every woman is beautiful! And that every woman deserves to look and feel her most beautiful. I remove my makeup live on TV over 250+ a year in the US mainly to be brave, to show my own hyperpigmentation and rosacea and to hopefully inspire women to know that if they do have a skin issue, whether it’s hyperpigmentation or redness or anything else, so do I! And so do SO many of us! And we are all in this together! And it’s never about coverage or covering issues, but rather its about feeling beautiful and finding products that truly give you your most beautiful skin and help you look and feel like your most beautiful you. That is truly our mission at IT Cosmetics!
What sets you apart from the beauty brands?
We work with plastic surgeons and dermatologists and we believe that great makeup can GIVE you great skin. We start every product from scratch, ignoring what typical makeup brands have done and focusing on solving the beauty problems that all women share – like getting the look of your most beautiful skin, brows, lashes and lips! We don’t launch a lot of new products. It takes YEARS to develop everything we create because it needs to do more than be a game changing product in the beauty industry. Every product needs to be life changing in the hands of real women. That is what sets us apart. The focus on changing the lives of every IT Girl!
What gave you the belief to launch a cosmetics brand in a highly competitive market?
I knew there was a need for makeup that actually did what it said, and truly solved beauty challenges for real women. I knew there was a true need for makeup that gave you full coverage without making you look older when you wear it. Makeup that truly looks and feels like your real skin, not just makeup. And I knew if I could create products that were truly superior, that truly changed womens lives, then it didn’t matter how large my competitors were or how many commercials they run or claims they make. When something really works, women spread the word and it has been real women getting real results and spreading the word about IT Cosmetics that is the reason we’ve grown so quickly to become a top brand in every retail partner today! We also have countless celebrities that use IT Cosmetics every day because its actually completely transformed their skin, and we don’t pay any of them to endorse the product, they actually truly love IT Cosmetics and are authentic IT Girls.
What challenges did you face creating the range and how did you overcome them?
I have had so many, I can’t even keep count! The biggest hurdle is hearing the word ‘no’ from just about everyone, and deciding in my own head that it just means ‘not yet’! All of our most important partners to our business today, including Sephora, QVC, Guthy|Renker, ULTA, etc. all said no to us initially. In hindsight it was a blessing because our company infrastructure wasn’t large enough to support the partnerships, but I didn’t know that at the time. We kept being persistent, kept focusing on truly developing life-changing products, and eventually got a yes and today we have successful partnerships with each of them!
What 3 products would you recommend to someone wanting to start using IT Cosmetics?
This is the hardest question because at IT we only launch products that we truly believe will change women’s lives!
1. For your skin, the product I get the most life-changing stories about would be either Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer or our CC+ Cream – so if I have to choose one, it’s our Your Skin But Better™ CC+ Cream because it truly is everything your skin needs – complete skin care, full coverage, and SPF 50+ Physical Only Sunscreen – all in one step. It actually starts it’s life as skincare, and we’ve infused full coverage into it. I have rosacea and hyperpigmentation and I feel like I’ve spent most of my life trying every foundation and concealer out there and they almost all crease and crack and make us look older, especially if you need coverage. Our CC+ cream gives you full coverage but is developed to make your skin look younger instead of older, so it’s really so different than anything else out there.
2. Brow Power™ is our number one selling product, and I think it’s because it not only does all of those things it also literally does give you the power to be your most beautiful you. Don’t underestimate the power of your eyebrows! Your eyebrows are the only feature on your face that give you your frame of symmetry and symmetry is what equates to beauty in the human eye. Just doing your brows, even if it is the only thing you do each day, instantly makes you your most beautiful you, because it’s your frame of symmetry, and hence it’s your beauty. Choosing a brow pencil that matches your hair color, adheres to skin, and looks like real hair is key! I am so passionate about this, that we actually partnered with Look Good Feel Better, and for every Brow Power pencil we sell, we donate one to go to women in the program to help them face the effects of cancer with more confidence. We’ve donated over $5 Million in Brow Power pencils to date.
3. The Vitality Lip Flush 4-in-1 Lipstick Stain nourishes your lips as your anti-aging conditioning lip balm, your light glossy shine, your lipstick and your lip stain all in one! No alcohol, this lipstick stain is rich in plum oil, cherry oil, shea butter, plus Vitamins A,C, & E, so different from a typical lipstick. The shade Je Ne Sais Quoi™ is the perfect pink for YOU, transforming to the shade of pink that best flatters your skin tone, brightening your entire complexion and adding the look of youth to your face!
What is your personal daily makeup routine?
I used to splurge spend hundreds of dollars on face and eye creams (and then my husband would apply them to his elbows and drive me crazy lol) but now I am obsessed with IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream™ and so that’s what I use every day and night, especially as I travel (which is about 90% right now for work)! It breathes life back into my skin and gives it back the hydration that it desperately needs after long days of travel!
CC+™ Cream is my daily go-to for full coverage, skin care, and SPF 50 Physical Only sunscreen, Brow Power™ Universal Pencil gives me the look of real brows every day (which is great because I have none!), and Tightline™ Full Lash Length Mascara Primer is my eyeliner, primer, and mascara all in one step. I always have these three products, along with a handful of Vitality Lip Flush Butter Glosses, in my bag every day! Oh and I am totally obsessed with our new Superhero™ mascara, it literally looks like you’re wearing false lashes!
You're hailed as being a beauty entrepreneur, what drives you to succeed?
I believe God can dream a bigger dream for our lives than we can dream for ourselves! This has proven true for me time and time again!
I believe our mission at IT Cosmetics is bigger than ourselves. Our mission is to create game-changing products that when in the hands of real women everywhere become life-changing products. I dream of every woman in the world remembering that she is beautiful and she deserves to feel beautiful!
Out of all you have achieved in business, what are you most proud of?
I am so proud that so many women call themselves IT Girls. We have generations of IT Girls – IT Moms, IT Daughters, IT Grandmoms, IT Survivors. We now have millions of customers and I am most proud of hopefully helping change the way they look in the mirror – to seeing how beautiful they truly are and to seeing what’s right! I truly believe in every ounce of my being that every woman is beautiful! And that every woman deserves to look and feel her most beautiful. I remove my makeup live on TV and QVC in our 250+ shows a year mainly to be brave and to hopefully inspire women to know that if they do have a skin issue, whether it’s hyperpigmentation or redness or anything else, so do I! And so do SO many of us! And we are all in this together! And it’s never about coverage or covering issues, but rather its about feeling beautiful and finding products that truly give you your most beautiful skin and help you look and feel like your most beautiful you. That is truly our mission at IT Cosmetics!
WHAT CITY IN THE WORLD INSPIRES YOU MOST AND WHY?
I find inspiration everywhere! In every city and in every place! I am always inspired by beauty and especially product innovation while traveling through many cities in Korea. I am inspired to think and dream big when in Rio De Janeiro, when I see the Christ up tall on the mountainside overlooking the city, it’s breathtaking and inspiring. I named many of our very first eyeshadow shades when on a trip to Rio, because it’s just so magical. I get so inspired to create, and shop (and eat) in Paris! And right now my home is in New York City, which feels like it has representations of most cities around the world. From food to fashion to beauty. My husband is from Brazil so one of our favourite things to do is go out to eat at the Brazilian steakhouses in New York City, because you can truly find authentic ones there where everyone speaks Portuguese.
Coffee or tea?
COFFEE! All day long!!!!! With my Rosacea, I am supposed to steer clear of products that can make it worse. While there is no cure for rosacea there are definitely lifestyle changes that can help such as limiting coffee and chocolate and spicy foods, etc. As an entrepreneur I work 16+ hour days 7 days a week so for me it’s almost impossible to give up coffee! And who can give up chocolate? I am addicted to both, so that’s probably why I am even more passionate about skin-loving makeup! Lol
What's your advice to anyone starting out in business or planning to take a leap of faith to follow their dream?
Oprah once said “Find what sparks the light in you, and use that light to illuminate the world!” Whatever it that sparks the light in you, you will know it because you will authentically feel it deep in your soul. And you will feel fulfilled by it. I believe I am meant to make women’s lives better and remind every woman she’s beautiful. This is why I remove my makeup live on national TV over 200 times a year, to show women that it doesn’t matter what you’re covering up, you truly are beautiful and sexy and powerful and amazing. And I live and breathe to create products that truly make every woman feel her most beautiful. IT cosmetics is now 7 years old, and I still work 100+ hour work weeks, every week, but I know I am changing the world and by making women’s lives better, and that’s what truly keeps me going.
Where do you look for inspiration for new products?
So many people and places! I am inspired by IT Girls and the stories they share, the beauty problems they are looking to solve. I am inspired by the latest in science, working with our team of plastic surgeons and dermatologists to stay on the cutting edge of the latest innovations. And I try to take a moment whenever I can in different cities around the world and I experience new spa treatments whenever I can. One of my recent favs was trying a cold spoon facial in Korea. It also inspired our CC+™ Eye cream with a cold spoon tip to address under eye puffiness.
How do you unwind?
Take deep breath focused on gratitude. So often, days fly by and it’s well into tomorrow before I lie down for the night. Taking a moment to really breathe, to reconnect with myself and to truly appreciate the blessing of IT Cosmetics™ and being able to change women’s lives helps me remember why every long day is worth it!
Are you a bag or shoe girl?
I have to choose?!? I would say I’m a bag girl. No wait, shoe girl! I LOVE BOTH!!!! Especially because even if my diet is fluctuating my bags and shoes still fit perfectly!!!
What new IT Cosmetics products can we look forward to?
The latest launches of Confidence in a Cream™ and the amazing SUPERHERO™ Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara. We want to redefine the beauty industry with game-changing innovation but, more importantly, we want to change the way women look in the mirror. We want every woman to look in the mirror and to give herself permission to see what is right, not what she thinks is wrong. See the beautiful color of her eyes and know that the darkness under them, that’s easily covered with the right products! See her beautiful smile and know that choosing a beautiful gloss will make it even brighter! Every product we have created and the innovations we are developing right now are focused on solving the real beauty problems that all women share so that every woman can look and feel her most beautiful each and every day!