When YouTube beauty influencer Jackie Aina was approached by Anastasia Beverly Hills’ president Claudia Soare to collaborate with the brand, she immediately knew she wanted to create an eyeshadow palette.
“There are so many different, awesome ones out there in the market, but for me, because I have dark skin, there was always something missing,” said Aina, who’s of Nigerian descent. She has more than three million YouTube subscribers and 1.2 million followers on Instagram. “I felt like I could definitely fill that void…[for] the person who is tired of having to skip those three shades that don’t work on their skin tone.”
The $45 palette launches on Anastasia Beverly Hills’ web site on Aug. 6. The day before, followers have the chance to buy it directly through Instagram, where Aina is selling a limited quantity of the item. Aug. 15 is when the palette will be sold in-store and online at U.S. retailers, and it’s available internationally the next day.
“I remember when there was a time when no one would collaborate with black influencers,” continued Aina, 32, who’s known for her bold and opinionated videos. She doesn’t shy away from bringing up social issues, for example, as she conducts her makeup tutorial “walk-throughs.” “It just wasn’t a thing to walk into a Sephora and see an influencer collaboration with someone who looks like me. There still can be a lot more change, and there can be a lot more opportunities and lanes created, but I think we’re getting there.”
She’s also known for her candid reviews of beauty products. After being invited to Kim Kardashian’s Bel-Air launch party for KKW Beauty and offering a mediocre review, fans took notice when Kardashian didn’t tag Aina — but did tag everyone else — in an Instagram post.
Kardashian received enough backlash to tweet: “I just saw a story saying I intentionally didn’t tag @jackieaina in a pic I posted on Instagram because of a review she did about my line,” followed by, “I love that she has an opinion and I’ll take what she said and use it to better my products.”
That was about a year ago, around the same time she began working with Soare — who also goes by Norvina — on the eyeshadow palette, which features 14 of her ultimate matte and metallic shades.
“I looked at the palette in terms of color story,” Aina said, noting that her favorite is currently “Wiggalese,” a red-orange shimmery shade. “I wanted to be able to create purple looks, pink looks, neutral looks, cool toned looks, bold looks — with the help of Norvina. She definitely helped me fill in gaps.”
Cosmetics company Anastasia Beverly Hills was founded by Soare’s mother, “eyebrow guru” Anastasia Soare, after she opened her flagship salon in 1997. Frequented by celebrities, Romanian-born Soare made a name for herself for a signature style of shaping eyebrows, called the Golden Ration Eyebrow Shaping Method. In 2000, she launched the company’s first product line, and since then, she’s been credited for bringing attention to the eyebrow, a multimillion-dollar category in beauty that simply didn’t get the same attention or have the same value then as it does today. Now, ABH, as it’s known, is sold at retailers in more than 25 countries. Last year, the company received an investment from TPG Capital, valuing the business at $3 billion.
“They are the pioneers for working with influencers,” Aina said of Anastasia Beverly Hills. “They were pretty much one of the first brands to really give influencers a chance in terms of collaborating with them and working with them, which is awesome. The quality is unmatched. It actually shows up on my complexion.”
For Claudia Soare, working with influencers is a no-brainer.
“It’s a big part of what people look at on social media,” she said. “They are the messengers, the reporters, if you will, of beauty.”
She’s been a fan of Aina’s videos for “a long time,” she shared.
“She has so much character and personality, and she’s very outspoken obviously about inclusivity, but what was even more important is how amazing she is to her followers and all that energy she puts out there,” said Soare, who added that the brand is focused on launching foundation and expanding into skin care. “One thing I really like about her is that even though she’s gorgeous, she doesn’t mind being kind of goofy sometimes. She likes to make fun of herself. She likes to be quirky and out there in her videos, and I really like it, because I think it makes her a real person and not just a projection of perfect where everything is always immaculate.”
According to Aina, she wasn’t always that way, but it’s exactly what helped her grow a following.
“It’s so funny when people say I’ve changed from my old videos, because I’m like, ‘You have no idea how much I was hiding and how much I was still somewhat camera-shy,’” she said of her earlier years as a YouTuber. “I always felt like I had to be respected and sound smart…ultimately, it just came down to, ‘I don’t feel like I’m being my real self.’ I’ve definitely, over time, gotten more assured with myself and comfortable with doing what I do.”
For the last two years, her team has been growing, too. She now has an assistant, management team and works with video editors.
“It’s not like a 24-7 button, where I’m bouncing off the walls, but it’s 100 percent what you see in my videos is what you see in real life,” she shared. “I’m that goofy, silly, that weird, and I think the moment when I embraced that, that’s when people embraced me back.”
“Honestly, I feel like the weirder I get, the more people like my videos,” she continued. “It’s the strangest thing ever, but I just keep getting weirder and people love it. They just eat it up.”
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