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Cassandra Mills, a Los Angeles-based music and TV producer who often had trouble finding makeup shades that matched her African-American skin tone, decided to take matters into her own hands — launching Haute Face cosmetics in 2001. These days, she’s focused on becoming the Sean John of makeup — having inked a deal with Macy’s, which will take her line (“for women of all colors,” she emphasizes) into doors nationwide.

“Haute Face is a wonderful example of Macy’s strategy to provide affordable luxury and differentiated assortments tailored to our rich customer mosaic,” said Debbie Murtha, senior vice president of cosmetics at Macy’s Merchandising Group. “This is an upscale line, presented in well-conceived packaging and formulated for women of all skin tones. We are excited to work with Cassandra Mills and to further reinforce our commitment to partner with those reflective of the communities we serve. We know that our business thrives on offering sophisticated and relevant brands — Haute Face is the perfect complement.”

And Mills, Haute Face’s president and chief executive officer, is equally as happy to be getting her products into Murtha’s doors. “My aim was to create a premium cosmetics line with colors that worked for women of all skin tones, not just my own. I was tired of mixing three foundations together to get my perfect shade, and I know others — including my friends of Asian and Hispanic descent — felt the same way. I’m excited to be able to offer that wide range of choice to women across the U.S.”

One of Mills’ bestsellers online is the Color Disc, which she calls “the iPod of beauty.” The multiproduct palettes, which each retail for $69, contain foundation, powder, concealer, three lip colors (one each of matte, shine and cream formulations), two blushes and four eye shadows. They are available in seven colorways, including Gorgeous, suitable for alabaster skin; Stunning, intended for Asian skin tones, and Beautiful, designed for chocolate-hued skin. Each is packaged with an instructional guide that Mills calls “The Look Book.”

The line also includes a number of freestanding stockkeeping units, including 14 foundation shades, each $30; seven face powder shades, each $26; Zero Powder, a translucent foundation-setting powder, $30; 14 blush shades, each $22.50; seven concealer shades, each $18; 28 eye shadow shades, each $18; four matte lipstick shades, each $20; six shine lipstick shades, each $20; 10 cream lipstick shades, each $21, and five lip gloss shades, each $15.

This story first appeared in the June 6, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Mills said that the brand has numerous celebrity fans and includes a testimonial from singer Natalie Cole on the brand’s Web site, “Haute Face products are long overdue because women of color have had so few choices over the years regarding makeup for our skin,” reads Cole’s testimonial.

All told, the Macy’s deal will take Haute Face — which had a test run in Saks Fifth Avenue in 2004 — into 50 Macy’s doors this fall; it bowed on in February, and is also available on

While Mills and Murtha declined to discuss sales figures, industry sources estimated that the Macy’s deal could boost the brand’s sales by $12 million at retail in the next 12 months.

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