Jenn Harper of Cheekbone Beauty
Running a business

How Cheekbone Beauty empowers Indigenous voices through sustainable makeup

In 2015, Jenn Harper had a dream that turned out to be a prophecy. Long after she woke up, the little Indigenous girls she saw in her dreams stayed with her, their colourful lip glosses sowing the seeds for what later became her cosmetics brand, Cheekbone Beauty.

The Indigenous-owned company, based in St. Catharines, Ontario, goes beyond selling makeup. Its mission is to empower every Indigenous person to recognize and cherish their worth, while also prioritizing sustainability in product offerings. Guided by her Anishinaabe roots, Jenn uses her platform to champion values of social entrepreneurship, representation, inclusivity, and sustainability.

“I do my best to weave my narrative as both a woman and a representative of North America's Indigenous peoples, and to substantiate the importance of these values in today's business ecosystem,” she says.

Overcoming business challenges

One of the main challenges Jenn encountered was the lack of funding accessible to Indigenous businesses in Canada. “In the early days of building Cheekbone Beauty, I had $500 and a corner of my basement to work in,” she says.

“The whole concept of bootstrapping can only get you so far. Funding is critical to grow the business.”

As Cheekbone Beauty grew, another challenge emerged — finding the right talent to support the business. However, the ability to work remotely proved to be advantageous, enabling Jenn to cast a wider net when searching for skilled individuals.

Building a brand with purpose

Since its inception, Cheekbone Beauty has garnered a devoted following of customers and supporters who resonate deeply with its mission. Product development is guided by three principles: telling the story of the rich Indigenous culture; following sustainability practices for the least amount of environmental impact; and providing bold, fun colours without harmful or controversial ingredients.

Heartfelt feedback from Indigenous youth reinforces the importance of the mission to Jenn and her team. “We started with products that were not clean or sustainable. In 2021 we completely reformulated, and now our whole product line is clean, vegan, and weaves Western science with Indigenous ways of knowing and being,” says Jenn.

“For years, I think our Indigenous people had a negative view of what our business was because we were coming at it from a Western view. But that viewpoint is changing as more people see that when we do business from an Indigenous lens, we can build business for good.”

Makeup product by Cheekbone Beauty

Streamlining finances with QuickBooks

Managing the finances of a growing beauty business can be a daunting task, but with the help of QuickBooks, Cheekbone Beauty is navigating the process with ease.

“QuickBooks is a tool that helps us perform financial tasks in a user-friendly and straightforward way,” says Jenn. “It also allows us to create schedules for employees and accurately track their hours for payroll.”

Being able to stay on track with their record-keeping helps pave the way for Cheekbone Beauty’s continued growth and success in the industry.

Milestones and achievements

Over the years, Cheekbone Beauty has achieved numerous milestones, including becoming a B Corp certified company, launching in prominent retailers like Sephora Canada and JCPenney/Thirteen Lune in the United States, and providing a platform for Indigenous representation.

Central to the company’s mission is its commitment to giving back to the community. Through product donations, monetary contributions, and project-focused initiatives, Cheekbone Beauty has donated more than $250,000 to various causes, including Shannen’s Dream, the Navajo Water Project, and One Tree Planted.

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We started with products that were not clean or sustainable. In 2021 we completely reformulated, and now our whole product line is clean, vegan, and weaves Western science with Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Jenn Harper. Cheekbone Beauty.

Looking to the future

Moving forward, Cheekbone Beauty aims to solidify its position as a household name in Indigenous beauty, further amplifying Indigenous voices and fostering a sense of pride and empowerment within the community.

“Since our launch, the brand has garnered an ever-growing list of customers, fans, and passionate supporters who believe in our mission and love our products,” says Jenn.

“The emails, DMs, and conversations we have with Indigenous youth reinforce the value of what we do and give us the confidence to continue forging ahead.”

How QuickBooks can help your business

Looking for tips to start, run, or grow your business? Whether you need help with payroll or time tracking — or insights into the latest trends — look to QuickBooks Online to guide you through your entrepreneurship journey.


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