Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Williams.
Hi Karen, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My parents worked in the music industry. As a child, our home was filled with music and music executives/artist that were close with our family. Growing up, I had amazing mentors, so naturally I would land my first job at 19 at a major record label. I worked in the music industry for ten years in promotions, marketing & sales.
When I noticed the changes that were happening in the music industry, I changed my career path and found my first job in fashion & beauty, working with brand owners to secure partnerships with manufacturers to design manufacturer and place their brands at retail. In this position, I found my love for beauty. I worked with several celebrities and aliened them with beauty brands to develop and launch their brands online and at retail. Working behind the scenes, I quickly learned there were no women of color working at the executive level making decisions on the cosmetics and skincare formulations. Big beauty brands at that time were using celebrities as a face for their products and not changing the formulations or pigments that are needed for women of color. During this time, I worked with a well-known celebrity to develop a line of hair styling tools (flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers, etc.) with a top hair care manufacture who had no understanding about how to care for black hair. They became 100% dependent on us to teach them everything about black hair. There were no women of color working at the executive level to work with us to develop the styling tools. We were not going to launch styling tools for if the tools were not engineered for black hair.
Especially since this celebrity name was attached to the brand. The styling tools were a big hit and sold at Sephora, Ulta, Target & Walmart. This was an eye-opening experience for the both of us and a lot of work went into making sure the styling tools were right. After seeing first had the lack of inclusion for women of color in the beauty industry and my never-ending search for the perfect nude lipstick, I decided to be part of the change that I wanted to see in beauty and pulled together a small team. We are 100% black-owned. At Boujie Free Cosmetics, we are here to fulfill the beauty needs for women of color and are all about inclusion and the celebration of black & brown beauty. As branding and marketing executives, we are motivated to do something about the lack of inclusion for women of color in the beauty industry. We created Boujie Free Cosmetics because we believe all of us should be able to find our shades in every beauty brand. We are taking the time to develop cosmetics that are specifically made for us. From light to dark skin tones women of color will find the perfect shades to enhance their already beautiful skin.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Our only challenge was launching right as the pandemic hit. Should we launch our should we wait was the big question. As a team of resilient women, we decided to keep going and to introduce a smudge-proof lip stain that would solve the problem of wearing a mask & skincare that helps with breakouts from wearing a mask all day.
As you know, we’re big fans of Boujie Free Cosmetics. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
At Boujie Free Cosmetics, we are women of color who are taking the time to develop cosmetics that are specifically made for us. From light to dark skin tones our customers will find the perfect shades and skincare to enhance their already beautiful skin. Boujie Free Cosmetics product offering includes: The struggle to find the perfect nudes for our skin tones is ours why. We are known for our Nude Lipsticks, Nude Lip Glosses and Nude Trio Lip Kit that’s formulated specifically for women of color. The struggle to find the perfect nude stops with us. We offer smudge Proof Matte Lip Stains, Matte Lipsticks, Velvety Matte Liquid Lipsticks, Cream Liquid Lipsticks that are all pigmented and the perfect shades for our skin tones. Lippie Pop is ten ultra-hydrating Lip Glosses that give dazzling shine with a glass like finish. Our nonsticky formula makes lips feel like silk. This collection also includes Lippie Pop highly pigmented matte liquid lipsticks. The Melanin Collection, an amazing range of matte and shimmer eye shadows and six cream liquid lipsticks that gives moisture with a pop of color. We are proud to announce our partnership with HBO’s Insecure to launch “Low Key Glowing” a beautiful line of cosmetics. The Boujie Free girl identifies with the hit HBO series. Like Issa, she embraces her rich and diverse Black culture, her community, career, and relationships with close girlfriends, and she remains true to who she is. She is many different women at different stages of life, growing and glowing as she finds her way.”
As part of the collection, there are two eyeshadow palettes that feature fifteen shades each, with colors that enhance the eyes and evoke Black girl magic. Colors range from deep cocoa browns and sultry blues to fierce oranges. Both palettes have a shimmer and high-pigmented matte finish. The collection also includes two smudge proof velvety matte lip stain shades in nude and plum. These glowing palettes and lip stains are a definite high key must have! We believe makeup only looks good if you have the perfect pampered canvas. Our Elite Vitamin C Facial Cleanser & Vitamin C Serum Duo evens your skin tone and refines skin texture. The perfect foundation is clear even skin. All of our products are tested before they are launched on our website and every product is made in the United States. We created Boujie Free Cosmetics because we believe all of us should be able to find our shades and the perfect skincare in every beauty brand. We are proud to be a part of the change we are now seeing in the beauty industry. It’s up to us to do the work and create what we want to see in the world.
Who else deserves credit in your story?
Thought my career, I was lucky to have mentors who freely took the time to share a wealth of information that allowed me to launch brands for my clients and to now have my own business. I studied them, their work and grow my relationships. These relationships are still with me today. It’s very rare to find someone who will share their knowledge without a fee attached, so I make it a point to help girls that are just starting out in the fashion and beauty industries. My teammates play a big role in my business. I’m a big believer in oneness and working as one team with the same goal. No one that does everything our think they know it all is successful. Everyone should bring something to table. When meeting with my team to discuss what would make us different from everyone else in our same space, Jessica my team lead, suggested that we contact HBO to discuss a collaboration with Issa Rae’s hit show Insecure. I throughout several ideas on who I wanted to partner with, but Jessica idea was a perfect fit for our brand and an easy deal to make with my experience. Jessica’s design and marketing experience was huge in developing the products, product approvals, packaging and our social media launch plan. I could not have launched the “Low Key Glowing” collaboration without her.
Working with a partner is not always easy when it comes approvals and the limitations that are put on you when you are ready to go all in, but Jessica was a problem solver throughout the entire process. Finding the right influencer that’s a good fit for your brand is also challenging when you are a small business. Especially in this environment. We are lucky to have @miss_mianicole as our Chief Ambassador. Mia brings so much to the table, more than I was expecting. This only happens when you have someone on your team who truly believes in what you are doing, and that exactly the type of person I want on my team. That doer! let’s do this! is it for me. I’m also very thankful for Brittney, DeLorean, Jasmine, & Chris who showed up for me and showed out at our initial “Low Key Glowing” photoshoot. They are all professionals in their fields that could have easily turn down my offers.