YouTuber Jackie Aina On Her Humble Beginnings and Building an Authentic Brand
“As far as my legacy goes, I want [consumers] to remember me as someone who did not compromise my morals just for a check.”
It's safe to say that beauty guru Jackie Aina isn't slowing down any time soon. The makeup artist has made a name for herself by "changing the standard of beauty, one video at a time" and giving Black women a space to feel fully represented on her nearly four million-subscriber YouTube channel. She is also evolving the industry with her beauty partnerships and her own luxury lifestyle brand, FORVR Mood. But the influencer's booming success didn't come overnight. Aina talked with Senior Beauty Editor Kayla Greaves of our sister site, InStyle, during a virtual event put on by :BLACKPRINT and Sisters in Media to share some of the biggest experiences that led her to become her own boss. She broke down how she actually got her footing in the beauty world, and it is so relatable.
"[Junior high, high school] were the years where your makeup wasn't that cute," she said. "I don't know why, I just was like, 'I just don't want to be out here looking crazy.' So I didn't really start dabbling and exploring with makeup, like wearing it out, until I was 17, 18. For some, that's kind of a late bloomer, and so by that time I had started to realize, 'Wait, I actually kind of like this. I'm actually kind of good at it.' So, I started doing makeup not only on myself but on my friends and literally anybody who would loan me their face."
From that moment on, Aina realized this was more than just something to do in her free time. The passion-turned-purpose came about because, like so many of us Black women, she could not find the resources to get help with makeup.
"I got so frustrated with going to counters asking for help, asking for products, asking for tips, advice, and they couldn't give it to me," she shared. "So, I just became like, 'Okay, I'll figure out how to do it myself.' And then that was when I started my channel, because I didn't see anybody doing really fun, beautiful, smoked-out, actual trendy makeup looks on someone of my complexion at all. And if you did see them, because they were definitely on YouTube (I'm not the inventor of this style of makeup look), it was like you'd have to be super SEO-savvy to find them. It was just like the wild, wild West back then."
Don't get her wrong, though. Aina still says it took almost five years in the beauty game before she fully embraced her role as an influencer. She poured into her content creation, interacted more with her growing social community, and put her belief in God to help her career truly unfold. "I feel like it's just a testament to a lot of us stepping out on faith," she said. "I really feel like, to our credit as influencers, content creators, however you refer to us, a lot of us are first and foremost huge risk-takers because yes, it's very risky."
Now fully established and thriving as a content creator, Aina is continuing to spread her wings in every area of business. She's doing this all while staying true to what she stands for and holding brands accountable for Black representation. "As far as my legacy goes, I want [consumers] to remember me as someone who did not compromise my morals just for a check because I won't," she told Greaves.
The influencer is also streamlining Black luxury with FORVR Mood. "If we saw more Black luxury as normal, normalized, especially women, then I think it'll break down the stigma over time," she added. Aina worked hand in hand with her fiancé, Denis Asamoah, to launch the brand's luxury candle care kits, silk pillowcases, and more essentials to make the everyday even more lavish. And the businesswoman encourages other Black women to pave their way by being themselves and keeping a mission intact, too. "You need to be you, and you can be bigger than me and better than me," she said.
Aina continued, "There is no set linear path. Brands used to tell me, 'I wouldn't talk about race in your content, that's going to keep hurting you.' And for a long time, it kind of did. I wasn't growing because people were like, 'Oh, you always talk about race.' I was like, 'Okay, well, that's not gonna change, so bye,' and now look. Now, everybody's like, 'We want to work with Jackie.'"
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