Too Faced’s Born This Way foundation is getting 11 new shades. Today, the brand launched its collaboration with YouTube star Jackie Aina, who worked with Too Faced cofounder Jerrod Blandino to develop nine of the new hues.
“It is so important to me that everyone feels like they are seen and loved, so collaborating with Jackie was a no-brainer and the only option in my mind,” said Blandino. “She brought her expertise to the table and worked tirelessly to get it right. She helped me properly formulate undertones and fill in the gaps we were missing in the line. I’ve always admired her advocacy for deeper skin tone inclusion and she’s the epitome of the Too Faced girl.”
Aina started her YouTube channel in 2009, one year after she joined the army. She is as known for her bold makeup looks as she is for speaking out about social issues to her 2.4 million YouTube subscribers. She has been a fan of Too Faced for years — she called the Better Than Sex mascara her “holy grail” — and has previously worked with E.l.f. on an eye shadow palette that launched in 2016, as well as a collaboration with Artist Couture on Diamond Glow Powder Highlighters, available now at Sephora.
Ahead of the launch of her Too Faced collaboration, Aina spoke to WWD about starting her makeup channel while in the military, Fenty Beauty and fans’ reactions to the Too Faced collab.
WWD: When did you start your makeup channel?
Jackie Aina: I started my YouTube channel a year after I joined the military. I wasn’t a full-time YouTuber. I didn’t really understand that I could live off of my income from social media, so I was doing stuff on the side.
WWD: What made you want to start it?
J.A.: Beauty has always been my first love and I’ve always been a creative person, but being that I have a dad who is from a country that’s so academically driven like Nigeria, it was always something that I never took seriously because I felt like it wouldn’t make anyone proud and it wouldn’t make any money. If you’re really passionate about something, one way or another, you’re going to find a way to incorporate it into your life.
WWD: Is there a makeup community in the military?
J.A.: I can’t say there’s a makeup community per se. I do think that everywhere you go, you’ll always find that person that sees that lash, sees that lipstick and they’re like OK, you and me are one and the same. In the army, you’re not looked at as a girly girl or someone who’s feminine or likes to wear makeup. You’re all looked at and viewed as the same. When I met people and they found out I was in the military but they saw I was wearing makeup, they were confused because they didn’t get it, not understanding you can like two things at the same time. You can serve your country and wear concealer. The world’s not gonna stop.
WWD: How did you build your following?
J.A.: When I started my channel, my presence was definitely picking up a lot faster than some of the people that had started when I did or some of the people I had been watching at the time. I was one of the very few dark-skinned women on YouTube and there weren’t a lot of people back then that looked like me that were on camera celebrating color and wearing bold, colorful looks. Back then, there was this narrative that black women don’t need makeup or black women can only wear gold, like skin tone colors. No, we’re gonna wear that nude lip trend, we’re gonna wear blue eye shadow, we’re going to wear that smoky eye. There wasn’t enough of the multifaceted black woman being represented on YouTube. I was one of the few people who brought that and I think people loved it.
WWD: What do you want people to know about your collaboration with Too Faced?
J.A.: This is everything that I’ve worked for because ever since I started my channel, it’s been about empowering the overlooked and meeting the needs of people who oftentimes are told they don’t need makeup or they can’t be included. So the fact that a brand thought to bring me on board to include these very people that I’ve been fighting for was everything to me.
WWD: You’re focusing more on undertones, as well. Why was that important to you?
J.A.: We did extend the shades as well as adding in-between shades. I had to look at the gaps, what are we missing from what exists now. And if I felt like two shades were too, like one was lighter, one was darker, but they’re both rosy undertones, OK, that tells me I need to add something in between that’s got something more yellow olive, something that’s going to suit our warmer undertone person. It was a very thorough process. I went through all the shades and I wanted to focus on diversifying the line so that people can at least feel like they have a winter option and a summer option.
WWD: Were you at all inspired by Fenty Beauty for this collab?
J.A.: The Too Faced team had reached out to me regarding this partnership well over four or five months before we even knew that Fenty existed. We announced the partnership a couple weeks shy of Fenty’s launch. This is not to take away from them at all because everybody knows I’m the number-one Fenty fan, but what we started to see after the announcement of Fenty was a lot of brands trying to play catch-up. [Fenty Beauty] raised the bar and what I appreciate about Too Faced was it wasn’t in response to something else. They had first presented the opportunity to me in spring of last year, so no one even knew Fenty was coming. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to be inspired by Fenty, but there were definitely some comments that were ‘you guys are only doing it because’ and I was like, no that’s not that only reason why. Of course, I feel like there’s room for everyone and we still want to support and cheer them on as much as we can because I love their stuff and I feel like it shouldn’t just be one brand that carries the torch for everyone. The point is to diversify most brands as much as we possibly can. Everybody wants options.
WWD: What are some ways you think brands can be more inclusive with their offerings and/or marketing wise?
J.A.: Who are you speaking to in your ad campaign? Who are you speaking to on your packaging? Who are you speaking to when I go on your web site and I see swatches and demos of the product? It’s diversifying holistically marketing-wise, and it’s also in your products — not just complexion. Do you have concealers I can use? Do you have lipsticks that aren’t gonna look ashy on my skin tone? Do you have blushes that will actually show up on deep, dark skin without disappearing five minutes later? A lot of people underestimate how much it really takes to sometimes get certain products to show up on dark skin. I can’t use the same blush as someone who maybe is on the opposite spectrum as me.
WWD: What were your fans’ reactions when you first announced the collaboration?
J.A.: They went crazy. I announced on my birthday and that was the best feeling ever, being able to turn 30 and celebrate that and finalize everything on August 4 last year. It definitely felt like this is everything I shaped my career for this opportunity. So that was an amazing feeling and they were super, super supportive and still are to this day.
WWD: Any specific requests you received?
J.A.: Through all of the research I did, there was a specific shade I created that filled a gap in between two of the already existing shades. That particular shade I created for one of my subscribers and I couldn’t name it after her — I really wanted to. She had told me what shade she would be if it existed in Born This Way, so I started doing work and I started looking at other reviews and other videos of people that were within her same shade range and they were all saying the same thing.
WWD: What’s coming up next for you?
J.A.: Ooh, I can’t say too much, but a lot of amazing things. 2018 is gonna be hard to top, but I feel like 2019 is already coming for this year. I’m super receptive and I’m ready to take on whatever comes.