Do It For The Culture: Ashley Breaux Celebrates African Diaspora With Creole Cosmetics Collection
When people hear the word Creole, certain things come to mind such as Mardi Gras, delicious food, and even some stereotypes about physical features. Makeup artist Ashley Breaux uses her platform to celebrate the fullness of what it means to be Creole. In 2016, she launched her brand Vérité Beauty. Vérité is French for “truth.” A native of Lafayette, LA, her goal is to make all women of color feel beautiful and comfortable enhancing their beauty with makeup. In the beginning of her career, she noticed that most women shy away from makeup because it is hard for them to find foundations that match the pigment in their skin. Ashley also noticed that big brand cosmetics lines did not include many women of color in their advertising campaigns. Not happy with such poor representation, she used her platform to educate people more about her culture and introduced The Creole Collection — foundations, powders, and concealers to accommodate every shade of Black.
Madame Noire (MN): What inspired you to become a makeup artist ?
Ashley Breaux (AB): I would watch my mom, aunts, and family members get glam for balls around Mardi Gras season. In our culture, this is like a tradition. I was so fascinated by their “get ready” process with makeup and nails. Black women take pride in presenting themselves and I admired that.
MN: How did you come up with the concept of truth for your brand?
AB: I came up with the name because I wanted to live in my truth–being a Black woman, a Creole woman.
MN: What are some myths about the Creole culture or what it means to be Creole in general?
AB: It encompasses many different things like African to Caribbean and even Spanish and Native American. The biggest myth about Creole culture that I have encountered is that it is dependent on outward appearances. Most people define Creole by a light skin tone and what appears to be “good hair” textures. I purposefully chose a model with lots of melanin to represent the line because her complexion is included in what can be Creole, no matter what part of the world you come from. There are also subsets of Creole here in Louisiana. Lafayette is very different from New Orleans because it has a Canadian French influence mixed with all the other cultures I mentioned. For me, however, “Creole” encompasses so many different facets of culture, from the music and food to the people. The most important thing about Southern Louisiana Creole culture is the spirit of the people. Creole culture has been misunderstood throughout history because it is, by definition, a mixture of different cultures and ethnicity. So, again, New Orleans Creoles have a different history and tradition than those of Lafayette, less than 200 miles away.
MN: How were you able to match the makeup to Black skin tones so perfectly?
AB: Well, I had been working on the cosmetics line a year before it launched. I would test out foundations on my clients to see how it looked on them and I discovered that we literally had a match! So much effort went into curating the colors and matching them with the natural undertones found in our range of skin tones. We have 11 shades that range from very pale to the deepest mahogany.
MN: What has been the response since Vérité Beauty launched The Creole Collection?
AB: The response is super positive! People in Lafayette love to celebrate our culture. I even have people in the Bahamas who have reached out and left encouraging messages. I think people are excited to have something made for us in mind. It’s inclusive, not exclusive. Caucasian women are even purchasing products.
MN: How do you plan to teach your future children about the culture?
AB: I would definitely involve them in some of the traditions that I grew up with that celebrate the culture. Debutante Cotillions are a tradition that the women of my family have participated in that cultivates confidence as young ladies begin to transition into adulthood. I would also want them to attend trail rides and Mardi Gras, of course.
MN: What’s next for your brand?
AB: Vérité Beauty has some exciting things in the works for Spring 2017. We will be relaunching The Creole Collection and include a luxury and corrective skin care line catering to ethnic skin types, because we suffer from hyper pigmentation. Vérité Beauty will also be expanding to include spa services at the Lafayette location. And, of course, doing lots of community activism to keep the culture alive.