by R. Asmerom
When Iman spun her brand to back a make up line for women of color in 1994, the market reacted favorably. Just two years after launching Iman Cosmetics at J.C. Penney, the company registered sales of $25 million and went on to sign a deal with Proctor & Gamble to distribute her cosmetics to the mass market. But things didn’t go as planned according to the supermodel, as stores like Walgreens didn’t want to position her goods prominently.
“It was a no-go,” Iman told New York Magazine. “They wanted me to be placed at the back, which they considered, like it is, for the ethnic section, which I was totally against it for no other reason but ’cause also I never considered myself an ethnic brand.”
The reaction from the market led Iman to conduct her business primarily online, and although business is booming, the Somalian businesswoman knows it could be even better if she had a foothold in more stores.
One example that Iman shared with New York Magazine about how misled the mass market is when it comes to understanding women of color is the reaction she received to her launch of a liquid foundation last year. ”I decided to create a liquid foundation, which I have been told numerous times by the retailers, “Oh, black women don’t buy liquid foundation,” right? she recalled. Despite the nay-sayers, the liquid foundation became her top selling item.
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