Iman Fashions Cosmetics Business; Supermodel and Actress Iman Seeks to Build a Beauty Empire

By Gite, Lloyd | Black Enterprise, November 1994 | Go to article overview

Iman Fashions Cosmetics Business; Supermodel and Actress Iman Seeks to Build a Beauty Empire


Gite, Lloyd, Black Enterprise


For 14 years, supermodel Iman paced the fashion runways in New York and Europe, and graced the pages of the world's top fashion magazines. But during her career, Iman had a hard time finding cosmetics that complemented her dark brown skin color.

"I would go to cosmetics counters and buy two or three foundations and powders, and then go home and mix them before I came up with something suitable for my undertones," explains the 39-year-old Somalianborn model and actress. She knew other women were doing the same thing, mixing and matching products to get the right shade.

Two years ago, Iman went to work on a cosmetics line. The Iman line debuted in July. The products aren't for African-American women only, but Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans - all women of color - who make up 30% of U.S. cosmetics buyers.

Iman cosmetics are sold exclusively at 200 J.C. Penney stores. Iman went with J.C. Penney because upscale department stores wanted to charge higher prices. Her products range in price from $7.50 for nail polish to $35 for natural moisture formula for the skin.

Not only is Iman tapping into a ripe ethnic market, but also a lucrative industry. According to a 1993 study by Packaged Facts Inc., a New York-based research firm, retail sales of ethnic hair care, skin care and cosmetics was $537 million. While hair care is the oldest and largest sector, ethnic cosmetics have been experiencing the greatest boom. Experts estimate last year's double-digit growth rate to be 22%, pushing cosmetics sales to $100 million.

Overall, African-American consumers spend $278 billion a year, according to Segmented Marketing Services Inc. …

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