Self Care Sunday's with Founder + CEO of Cheek Bone Beauty, Jenn Harper

For our first-ever Self Care Sunday, we had the pleasure of speaking with Jenn Harper, founder of Cheekbone Beauty. Cheekbone, a brand that works to uplift Indigenous voices and allow Indigenous people to see themselves in the beauty industry, is making big waves for sustainability in cosmetics. Learn more about Jenn’s story, and how she takes time to self-care below!

Tell us about yourself and the story of Cheekbone Beauty’s rapid growth.

I actually had no experience in the beauty industry, except for being a product junkie, I love anything wellness related. I’m definitely a girly girl when it comes to those things. I was in the food industry for my entire career, which was 10 years in hospitality and 10 years in sales and marketing. Back in 2015, I had a crazy dream about making lip gloss. The funny thing is - I had been for a really long time thinking about how I could connect with my Indigenous community. I didn’t grow up on my family’s reservation, I grew up with my mom in the Niagara region. I was missing that connection and understanding of who I am and where I came from.

I started doing a ton of research and really learned about residential schools 7 years ago, at the age of 38. I was blown away as I had no idea, for lack of a better term, why my family was so dysfunctional and disconnected. I didn’t know and understand why you see and hear the stereotypes. Truthfully, I had a hard time admitting my own battle with alcoholism so I did not want to be “the stereotype”. When I learned this truth it was an incredible “a-ha” moment where it all made sense, and that this wasn’t entirely my fault.

I learned about generational trauma, and how this stemmed from my grandmother’s experience at residential school, and learning that we have this history in Canada and how generational trauma affects many families. If a child was impacted with a trauma, that unfortunately goes on for generations and is passed on until someone decides to heal and raise their children as a healed individual. That gave me freedom, and I was no longer ashamed of who I was and where I came from.

From there, I learned about business, how to build a business, and how to get into the beauty industry. It’s not as hard as people think - putting products on an e-commerce site has really levelled the playing field. We were able to start that way and have since grown and expanded in so many ways.

Maybe it was my naïveté being in an industry wondering, “Why can’t we make product packaging different?” and “How can we use these things I am learning about my culture and how these people are truly are the keepers of the land and the ones who are protecting so many things, ecologically speaking?