The renowned makeup artist, known professionally as Sir John, will be joining the company as a chief creative officer, working closely with its cofounding sisters Aleena, Aleezeh and Naseeha Khan on further innovating their products, their brand and pushing their shared messaging on culture forward.
“We’re thrilled to have someone that is such an expert in this industry. We’re so excited to see what kind of innovations we can come up with together,” Aleena Khan told WWD. “The first day we met him, I remember he said, ‘I’m going to constantly bring it back to how can we keep moving the culture forward.’”
She continued, “For someone to join and have that same mission that we have where it’s enhancing cultural awareness through beauty and how we’re going to make more people feel seen by our products, our brand, our messaging — that is when I think we really realized this is a perfect fit.”
Ctzn is best known for its bestselling Nudiversal Lip Duos, creating an inclusive and genderless line of lipsticks and lipglosses with 25 different shades of nude. Additionally, the company is known for its “Cultutorials,” embedding the sisters’ messaging of culture and knowledge into their makeup tutorials.
“I love what’s happening here in this venture. I was really interested in their leaning toward an inclusive landscape or what it looks like to make this new diversal range for everyone,” Sir John told WWD. “[The sisters] have a sense of equity at heart. It’s not always just about going into something because it’s pretty or cool. But how much do they want to make people feel? For me, beauty is a feeling first and then it’s seen.”
After working under makeup legends Pat McGrath and Charlotte Tilbury at the onset of his career, Sir John has built a successful career spanning more than two decades.
In 2015, he was named a creative director for L’Oréal Paris, making him the first Black creative director for the brand in the U.S. He has worked with the likes of Naomi Campbell, Joan Smalls, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and, most notably, Beyoncé as her personal makeup artist. Some of his favorite past makeup looks include the violet lip Smalls wore to the 2014 Met Gala, Beyoncé at the 2017 Grammys when she was pregnant with her twins Sir and Rumi and the makeup he’s done for Barbie.
Sir John has also become an advocate for social issues, such as equality and inclusivity, which aligned with the vision the Khan sisters have and are continuously working toward for Ctzn.
“It’s mutually very exciting for both ends because I think he really sees our mission and the potential of making that message widespread, which is enhancing cultural awareness through beauty,” Aleena Khan said. “I think there’s no other beauty brand focused on that. He himself is an activist and a humanitarian, so I think seeing that angle of our brand is truly what connected us all.”
“We were the youngest brand that he was considering,” Aleezeh Khan added. “So for us, it was so cool that he chose us, because it was just a lot of validation that someone who’s been in the industry for years saw the potential in our brand.”
Sir John chose to work with Ctzn not only because of their shared vision, but also wanting to work with a women-led brand that wants to push the needle forward when it comes to change and prioritizes what the consumer needs.
“Their willingness to see what the consumer needs are. Women-led brands in general operate from a place of heart and feeling — wanting to solve a problem or make someone feel seen,” Sir John said. “That’s kind of like my M.O. and what gets me out of bed every morning. I think that runs parallel with the Ctzn brand as well.”
With his extensive background, the sisters not only hope to work on more product development with Sir John, but are also excited to see his “creative eye” when it comes to branding and visuals and his “passion for nurturing retail partnerships.”
“Community starts and happens with conversation, with a sense of knowing where we’re going as a beauty community, but also where we’ve been,” Sir John said. “There’s a lot of trauma around where we’ve been as a beauty community, in general, when we look at fashion and beauty. So I hope to impart just some of that. Bring in some of that sauce — that secret sauce here.”
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