November is Native American History Month, but Jenn Harper doesn’t only honor her Anishinaabe heritage during these 30 days. Harper has been blazing the path for Indigenous beauty every day of the year since her brand, Cheekbone Beauty, debuted in 2016.
Due to her experience being underrepresented and underappreciated in mainstream media, she utilizes her brand to celebrate her culture and offer a safe environment for others to do the same.
“One of the biggest hurdles that I experienced as an Indigenous entrepreneur is the lack of representation for people who look like me in mass media and pop culture, which made me feel like my culture wasn’t valued,” Harper told Glowsly. “We’ve made it our vision and mission to help every Indigenous person on the planet see and feel their value in the world while we develop sustainable color cosmetics.”
Read on to learn more about the strides Harper takes to elevate fellow Indigenous people as entrepreneurs — beyond Native American Heritage Month.
Glowsly: How do you celebrate your heritage through your business and artistry?
Jenn Harper: When I think about all the work that we put into product development, every moment is defined by my culture. ‘How are we protecting people and the planet?’ This kind of thinking is innately indigenous.
How did your culture inspire your beauty brand?
In 2020, we launched the SUSTAIN Lipstick, a less-waste line of lipstick. I always say this, but Indigenous people are the OGs of sustainability, and we offer clean, vegan beauty at Cheekbone Beauty.
We follow the Biinad [Clean] Beauty Standards, avoiding harmful or controversial ingredients. We also honor the Seventh Generation Principle derived by the Iroquois people, which tells us not only to leave enough for the next generation but also for the next seven.
What are your go-to products from Cheekbone Beauty?
I often use the Cheekbone Beauty SUSTAIN Complexion Pencils (Fair #2 to brighten, Fair #3 to color correct, Medium #5 for the base, and Deep #7 or Deep #8 for contour), the SUSTAIN Eyeliner Pencil in Cedar Brown, the SUSTAIN Lipstick in Aki, and our SUSTAIN Lipgloss in Sweetgrass.
Besides your own, what are your favorite Indigenous-owned beauty brands?
How do you support other Indigenous entrepreneurs?
I consciously try to share all the creative and innovative things that Indigenous entrepreneurs are doing, either on my personal social media or on our @CheekboneBeauty Instagram page. This year, we launched an Indigenous Gift Guide featuring various brands founded by Indigenous artisans. We also collaborated with many of these brands for a huge Indigenous giveaway so that members of our community could see and feel the amazing products that exist.
What can others do to support the Indigenous community?
[Rather than] just [supporting this community] during Native American History Month in November in the U.S. or National Indigenous History Month in June in Canada, people should support [these] businesses throughout the year. Another crucial element to remember is the importance of amplifying Indigenous voices. The simplest way to achieve this is by reading books written by Indigenous authors and paying attention to Indigenous artists.
How does Cheekbone Beauty help other Indigenous women feel seen?
At Cheekbone Beauty, representation is at the core of all we do. This is significant to us as a brand because I never had anybody to look up to who looked like me in the media. I made an effort to show Indigenous women what was possible for them. Indigenous models of all ages are what we look for. We start campaigns that provoke deeper thought while amplifying Indigenous voices. Indigenous women will always be visible, heard, and valued by us.