…I’m really into skincare (maybe more than I’m into makeup) and I put my energy and focus into clearing my complexion so I’m more confident when I’m makeup-free, and I rotate through affirmations of self-love. It’s a practice. In today’s world, you won’t fall in love with yourself overnight, but you can fall in love with yourself if you work at it. To be clear, falling in love with yourself means falling in love with your laugh, your personality, your fashion sense (or in my case, lack thereof), your intelligence level, your introversion or extraversion, etc. You have to love yourself as the whole package, you can’t pick and choose. As long as you pick and choose what parts you do and don’t like about yourself you will never truly feel beautiful.
Asa part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Broadus.
Amanda Broadus is the founder and CEO of Cosmetic Crazed, LLC. The self-taught beauty educator specializes in makeup and skincare knowledge, ethical practices within the beauty industry, and redefining standards of modern beauty. In 2020, Amanda released her digital beauty magazine, FACE Magazine, dedicated to in-depth discussions of cosmetics, women’s health, and industry sustainability.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
First, I must say, thanks for having me here. I love the opportunity to share my story with others in hopes they will be inspired by my journey and continue with theirs. Like most girls, I started to get into makeup in middle school/high school and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was between 2012–2014 when I really started to figure everything out. I was a freshman in high school, a cheerleader, and involved in theatre arts so everyday glam was an everyday necessity to me — not so much now that I’m older, ha. But makeup was really the only thing I was interested in even though I was involved in other activities. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was the “makeup girl” of my school. No one else was really doing their makeup like me; full highlight and contour, brows shaped and filled in, eyeliner dramatic and winged. Fast forward to my senior year and I was getting texts left and right from friends offering to pay me to do their prom makeup. I had attended prom as a junior and that was enough for me — shout out to all the introverts — so I didn’t attend the senior prom and was available to take on clients.
From there my love for beauty followed me to college where I occasionally did freelance (emphasis on free) on my roommates and their friends, but my passion was not in being a makeup artist. One random night in bed I remembered back in high school I had started a makeup blog on Instagram. When I was learning makeup, YouTube tutorials were just becoming a thing. I tried it for a while but was always easily frustrated by the lack of quality equipment and editing software. My beauty Instagram, however, still had it’s whopping 36 or so followers from 2015 when I had last posted. It was 2017 when I remembered the account and picked up blogging, testing products and sharing my thoughts or my makeup looks. My dream has been becoming a beauty influencer since I was 15, so I made that my goal for when I graduate. By the time I finished with my degree, I wanted to be an established influencer making money on social media. I gave myself a “4-year plan” and kept working at it. Fast forward to now, I’m going into my final semester of college with a major in Public Relations. While in college I created the first makeup club on campus, Makeup Geeks, inspired by OG YouTuber Marlena Stell — aka Makeup Geek. In 2018, my Instagram handle, Cosmetic Crazed, was officially registered as an LLC. Since then, I have worked to create more original work for my growing audience and educate them in various topics within the beauty industry.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Recently I launched my own digital beauty magazine, FACE Magazine, which I was not planning nor expecting to happen this early in my career. With COVID-19, we’ve all been shuffled in new directions to keep us occupied. My school course load was super intense juggling 5 classes all online in my most important semester and I somehow finished on Dean’s List. But afterward, I was drained of mental energy. I knew the months ahead were going to be nothing but me staying in the house and focusing all attention on Cosmetic Crazed content and I wanted a challenge with that, so I decided, why not start a digital magazine? That question would probably never pop into other people’s heads, but I’ve always been that one person that just goes off and does her own thing. I have never in my life been a follower, not always by choice, but the leadership role seems to have found me in every part of my life. I also knew as a Black, female CEO I was going to have to create my own space. It is evident that Black people in any kind of media are rarely portrayed accurately and positively. Creating a beauty magazine where Black hair, Black makeup, Black citizens could be represented and celebrated was more than necessary and way past due. Yes, we have Essence Magazine, but how many publications are out there with content catering to predominately White audiences? That became my driving point in creating the first issue. We don’t need one token medium that targets minority lifestyles. I didn’t want my magazine to be too big because I wasn’t sure how overwhelming the task would be, so I gave myself a 10-page limit and went for it. The first issue blew up on Facebook and circulated thanks to all my family and friends. Afterward, the excitement for the next issue started and I felt a fire ignite in me. It was a strange way to come to it, but I always wanted to work at a magazine and maybe be editor-in-chief one day. I just didn’t know I would actually accomplish that, especially at my own magazine.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
I don’t look at success as a destination. Success comes when you meet a goal you’ve set. Three years ago, I started consistently working at growing an audience and I still haven’t reached my first thousand followers, but I wouldn’t say that means I’m not successful. I have an engaged community interested in what I do and have to say, and I think that speaks volumes. I’ve successfully crafted, produced, and released 3 issues of my own magazine which not many can say. You can’t measure your success with other people’s accomplishments. You have to look at your own and define success for yourself. I will say, I started “feeling” successful as I dove deeper into my niche and connected with more of my followers.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are a ton of people I can thank for my success, but my number one supporter has always been my mother. She has constantly talked me up to her friends and family, always deflates my negative thoughts and mental breakdowns, and really keeps me optimistic about what it is I do. Her belief in me has always kept me going when I don’t fully believe in myself. I have always been able to share my big ideas with her and tell her exactly how I’ll do it. Talking to her is almost like manifesting these things to happen. It’s like, when people say you’re more likely to meet your goals if you write them down, I’m more likely to meet my goals if I run my ideas by my mom.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?
Bringing Black people deeper into the industry. There is an extraordinary gap in representation in every area of the industry. Black creatives aren’t worked with as much, paid fairly, or don’t have as huge of followings as their counterparts. Black executives and management roles are almost nonexistent within cosmetic conglomerates, and Black businesses don’t receive as much support — in any industry. This is an overwhelming issue to tackle but that just shows how necessary the work is. I hope that with works like FACE Magazine, I can highlight important issues Black people face in and outside of the beauty industry and give us a voice. In addition to that, the cosmetic industry alone contributes 120 billion tons of packaging waste annually. A lot of consumers are now holding companies accountable to make sustainable changes and fast because of COVID-19. We see how necessary it is to cut down on packaging, intervene in slave labor operations, and call out the brands that continue to ignore the significance of their detrimental impact. There is a section in the FACE called Hall of FACE which is where I highlight beauty brands at the forefront of sustainability, inclusion, and change. That includes diversifying representation within the company, using eco-friendly materials, and sourcing non-toxic ingredients for cosmetics. Something else I have seen a lot recently is a term, intersectionality, which is basically overlapping systems of discrimination. So not only am I discriminated against because I am Black, but I am also female. I have to fight for those rights individually even though they are both a part of me that I have no control over. Cosmetic Crazed allows me to address all of these issues while sharing my original passion for beauty. I aspire to be a learning resource because, I too, am learning about this all. We don’t have to be experts on everything and know every detail about the industry, but we get better as we try to learn more.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
I love the confidence the industry has grown as a whole. There are so many inspirational women in this industry who act as true leaders and innovators. I think some of them are the reason women feel comfortable wearing their full glam to the grocery store now because we see how many other women are doing it. I remember in high school I had a boy in class shout, “you have a lot of makeup on your forehead” for everyone to hear and I was mortified. I had been feeling myself that day and in one statement he killed my confidence for a week. I still wore make up the next day because I didn’t want him to know his words hurt, but that situation has happened to so many women. I love that women don’t care for a man’s validation when it comes to makeup. We do it for us, not you.
Makeup brands are popping up left and right. A year or two ago that really annoyed me because I felt everyone was jumping on a trend, but now I see smaller businesses being created by industry veterans and that’s what I love to see. Makeup is a creative outlet in various forms. You can create a product, a makeup look, or find your own community of people who like your makeup style. Having a lot of brands sounds overwhelmingly negative, but it brings diverse perspectives, new ideas, and better consumer-brand relations. The customization of beauty is also very exciting. As brands launch, customers are looking for that unique selling point and I enjoy seeing what brands come up with to cater to their audience.
Lastly, I like the integration of social media and beauty. Personally, nothing gets me excited like having a brand or mega-influencer acknowledge me in a comments section. It sounds funny but it’s so true. Social media has given us the opportunity to create awesome looks and share them through videos and pictures with cool edits. It’s added a whole new layer of creativity. When you’ve connected with people through only social media it takes that personal interaction out which also lessens the emotional impact people feel. But when you get a reply back from your tv wife or the brand that makes your favorite ruby red lipstick it feels more like you’re talking to a real person — well, you are — versus an autogenerated feed. Connecting with brands and companies online makes the world feel closer sometimes.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?
My number one concern right now is the “ideal beauty” standard that was created to limit and discriminate against other people. As of 2020, it has quite literally gone too far. People no longer look at how they did back in the 19th century. Twelve-year old’s do makeup better than me now and I wasn’t even allowed to wear real makeup until I was a freshman in high school. Drastically changing your appearance isn’t so daunting anymore. When I go to my job, I always walk in with a new hair color whether it be honey blonde, brunette and 22 inches, or a platinum bob. Not only is it accepted in my place of work, but it’s almost expected. And they get really excited to see what I will do next because nothing is off the table when it comes to wigs! Unfortunately, not all Black women and men have this experience. Our traditional, cultural hairstyles are unaccepted in “professional” places of work (aren’t all places of work professional?) and we are often let go because of disagreements in how we do our hair. It comes from the idea that we are all supposed to look the same. This means hiring more Black men and women to normalize our hairdos. If it’s not impairing my ability to do the job I was hired to do, it’s none of your concern. Period.
I would say my second concern is the community. The industry reputation has been tainted by a very small number of rotten influencers and it ruins it for the rest of us. Drama channels have skyrocketed in popularity just to keep up with the messiness and I think it sometimes really takes away from the beauty of beauty. We are artists. We are creators. There is so much competition to get to the top, but we aren’t all doing the same thing and I wish more beauty influencers kept that in mind. We don’t all have the same end goal or niche. There is enough room for us all.
As I said earlier, I’m really starting to learn about the amount of waste the beauty industry contributes per year. The carelessness of companies needs to come to an end and changes need to be made. That means implementing package recycling programs where customers can bring empties and refill them or give them back to the company to recycle for their customers. Also, reducing the amount of plastic used in product packaging and switching to glass packaging. Glass packaging is better for the environment but it’s over 5 times the price of plastic! Sustainability should not be more expensive but if it is, we know the beauty industry has more than enough to cover the difference.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
If you want to “feel” beauty, it’s all in your mind. Throw out the image of “ideal beauty”, whatever that looks like for you, and look at the things you tell yourself, the actions you participate in, and the people you are hanging around. Something I started saying a few years ago is, “I know what it’s like to feel ugly, and I know what it’s like to feel pretty. I choose feeling pretty every time.” In translation, that means doing what makes me feel beautiful. Back when I was a cheerleader in high school I thought “cheerleader” and “pretty” were synonymous. Spoiler, being a cheerleader doesn’t boost your self-esteem one bit. I turned to makeup to make myself look and feel prettier and it was a temporary fix for sure, but I had years of work ahead of me to fully accept who I was born as. I’m 22 now and I haven’t worn makeup since my birthday back in May and I’m completely okay with that. As much as I love makeup, putting it on is almost always a chore for me. It just is. It doesn’t mean I like it less, I just found other things in my life to give that feeling of beauty. I have family and friends around me that adore me, I’m really into skincare (maybe more than I’m into makeup) and I put my energy and focus into clearing my complexion so I’m more confident when I’m makeup-free, and I rotate through affirmations of self-love. It’s a practice. In today’s world, you won’t fall in love with yourself overnight, but you can fall in love with yourself if you work at it. To be clear, falling in love with yourself means falling in love with your laugh, your personality, your fashion sense (or in my case, lack thereof), your intelligence level, your introversion or extraversion, etc. You have to love yourself as the whole package, you can’t pick and choose. As long as you pick and choose what parts you do and don’t like about yourself you will never truly feel beautiful.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
- There is plenty of room for you. Just because it’s 2020 doesn’t mean it’s too late for you to start a successful YouTube channel or blog or whatever. I know this because in 2014 I made my first few attempts at YouTube and I let myself get discouraged after only getting 2 views every video. It. Takes. Time. Had I stuck with it and been even semi-consistent I would probably have at least a couple thousand subscribers at this point. But I convinced myself there were too many “beauty gurus” at the time and I would never be one of them. You can’t have that mentality in this industry, there is no room for that kind of thinking or you’ll never progress. Remember the time will pass regardless of if you do the work or not, you might as well take the time to start. Your skills may not be where you want them to be but that just means you have to gradually work and improve your skillset. Life as a creator means creating your own space which leads me to my next point.
- Stop looking at what other people are doing. If you keep your eyes on everyone else that means you aren’t paying attention to what you should be working at. As I said, the beauty industry is extremely competitive and catty. On top of that, the industry is predominately females participating in one giant beauty contest and the prize is followers, money, and sometimes fame. As a rookie coming into the beauty industry, I suggest carefully selecting who you look to as a role model and only selecting a small few influencers as your muse. Use them as a guide to what you want to do but be careful of becoming a copy-cat. You want your content to always have an original spin on it.
- Identify your niche right from the start. This is what I wish I knew in the beginning. Over the years I’ve done product reviews exclusively, then I switched to makeup pictures, then I got lost somewhere in the middle and nothing made sense, and then I switched back to flat lays and product reviews. It significantly hindered my success over the years because when people were visiting my page, they weren’t sure why I was doing what I do. Now, I have 3 things my content focuses on; 1) beauty and skincare product reviews, 2) social issues within the industry (lack of diversity, xenophobia, cancel culture, etc.), and 3) shifting the industry to sustainable practices. This way, I’m able to target the intersectionality of being a minority and female and discuss the ways marginalized communities are negatively affected most by industry practices, all while keeping a beauty focus. Having a niche helps you zero in on your target audience and best reach them to grow your own community. Since identifying my own niche, I have been able to expand my audience outside of just beauty. Now I have environmentalists, activists, and people from other social movements following me. With the way algorithms work now, having a strong niche is your best bet to successfully establish yourself in the industry.
- Plan. Earlier I talked about how my freshman year of college I decided to create a “4-year plan” to be a successful beauty influencer by the time I graduate. That time flew. But now I can look at my content notes and see what I’ve worked on in the previous years. The quality of my content improved, my audience has grown, I know what strategies do and don’t work for me personally or what my followers respond to best. A lot of people coming into this business think it’s all about snapping a picture and posting it with a cool caption and a few good hashtags but it’s so much more than that. As the only full-time employee at Cosmetic Crazed I wear every hat. I’m the CEO, the content creator, the social media influencer, the PR and marketing, the writer, and the creative director of all projects. You must have a consistent plan and an intention behind everything you do and create. As they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Write down your goals. This is for your ego. I have 2 notebooks designated to different things. One notebook (we’ll call it Notebook A) I have used since 2017 and the other (Notebook B) is where I write all my research for my content. It’s important that I keep this information separate so I can remember what it is I’m working on. For example, Notebook A has all business strategies and future ideas. This is where I write any new programs that come to mind, make lists of tasks or steps to keep progressing, and document what I want my business to grow into someday. Notebook A is what I look at when I feel like I’m not good enough to be in this industry because I can go back and look at the amazing ideas I had once but forgot about. Whenever my content plateaus, Notebook A is there to spark new ideas or give me old ones. Notebook B is my information dump. Its purpose is to bring ideas from Notebook A and transfer them into action plans. I think of Notebook B as my strategy organizer. I outline all topics for FACE, write cosmetic ingredients and their purpose (to better inform my audience of their affect in products), jot down any online sources I utilize, and additional notes about any projects I’m working on at the time. I would say the best benefit of having these notebooks is the ability to look back. It’s the quickest way to humble yourself and see how much you’ve accomplished over time.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Interestingly, I am currently preparing my own social movement within the beauty industry. The movement is dedicated to raising awareness of unethical practices within the beauty industry, calling for packaging improvements, and highlighting racial disparities. I was very inspired last month by all of the social activists that came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Last month was very hard for me to live through; watching all of the violence happening across the nation right from my apartment living room left me feeling incredibly powerless, but also desperate for an opportunity to make an impact in the world. Currently, the movement is still in the works so I don’t want to say too much, but I will tell you the name of the movement: #TheCosmeticClan. For more details, you can sign up for email updates on the Cosmetic Crazed website!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When I was struggling to find my identity in my teen years, I read a quote that said, “be yourself. Everyone else is already taken” and that really woke me up. I may not know why I was put on this earth, but I know it wasn’t to try and be somebody else. That quote gave me so much independence and power because I realized nobody can tell me what’s best for me. As a teenager, that’s all you want to hear, ha. I used that affirmation for a couple of years after that until I was truly comfortable being myself no matter who I was to other people. It’s the best advice I’ve ever “received” if you can call it that. We are our own works of art. It’s about working with what you’ve got.
How can our readers follow you online?
Check out my recently launched website, www.cosmeticcrazed.com where they can shop merch and access the first 3 (free) issues of FACE Magazine and save 30% for the rest of the year if they subscribe! Also, follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @cosmetic_crazed and the FACE Instagram page at @_facemagazine.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
Thank you for having me, it’s been a real pleasure.