This Beauty CEO Was Told She Was Too Overweight to Represent a Makeup Brand

If you haven’t heard about beauty mogul Jamie Kern Lima, it’s time you did. The 40-year-old California native is a Columbia University graduate, the cofounder (and CEO) of IT Cosmetics, and has been named one of Forbes Magazine’s “Most Successful Self-Made Women” and one of Goldman Sachs’ “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.” But despite her impressive and ever-expanding résumé, she came from humble beginnings and had to surpass some difficulties to find the success she enjoys today.

Jamie first made headlines when she sold her company to L’Oréal for $1.2 billion last year. Recently, she was honored for the achievement at the Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Achiever Awards and gave a speech about all the challenges she had to face to grow her company. (You can watch the video of her inspiring speech, which has been viewed more than a million times, below.)

One compelling example came from her effort to raise funds while still running her business out of her living room. A potential investor, whom she did not name in the speech, decided to pass, which came as a huge blow to Jamie. When she asked him why, he told her: “I’m just not sure women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you, you know, with your body and your weight,” she recounted.

That was, as Jamie puts it, a “defining moment” for her, because instead of letting those harsh words cause damage to her drive, she used them to fuel her success. “I felt something deep down inside,” she said to the crowd. “And it said, ‘No. You are wrong.'”

Even before the body positive movement existed, Jamie knew the world of beauty and cosmetics desperately needed a change to be more inclusive. As a former TV news anchor, she had struggled from hyperpigmentation and rosacea, a common but poorly understood skin disorder that causes redness and acne-like effects on the face. It was the reason she started IT Cosmetics in the first place-so she could finally have products that were suited for her skin. (Related: Glossier Just Launched Body Care That’s Truly for Every Body)

From that point on, Jamie says she vowed to market her products with faces that looked like everyday women, not people with already seemingly flawless skin. So when the opportunity came to broadcast IT Cosmetics on QVC, she chose “real women” models, including a 73-year-old woman and an African-American woman with acne. Her products sold out instantly and with that, Jamie made her permanent mark on the makeup industry. (Related: Self-Care Beauty Products for When You’re Feeling Stressed)

“You see now, seven years later, almost all makeup brands showing real women in before-and-afters,” said Jamie, “but as an industry, we’re only scratching the surface.”

She concluded by speaking directly to beauty executives, reminding them that there’s a responsibility to women who are looking at their campaign images. “Each person in this room has a lot of power to make a mark in the beauty industry and in the world,” she said. “So I want to ask you all to take a huge step back and think about what really matters and what difference you are going to make in the lives of women everywhere.”

As for that man who had the misguided nerve to judge Jamie’s talents based on her appearance, he did end up reaching out to her after she sold to L’Oréal. Jaime was happy to report that he emailed her, saying: “Congratulations. I was wrong.”

The Beauty Queen of QVC

It is seven o’clock on a Saturday night in November, and Jamie Kern Lima is resting, if you can call it that. A couch in the greenroom at the willfully cheerful QVC studios in West Chester, Pennsylvania, has been turned into a pretend bed with sheets, pillows, and a QVC velvet-soft blanket, but Lima is wide awake, propped up like Manet’s Olympia, although fully dressed. She has been on the air pitching her line of beauty products, IT Cosmetics, for 25 hours with only momentary breaks. “It will not crease, it will not crack, it will not make you look older,” she recites over and over about her Bye Bye Under Eye concealer. She has exactly six minutes before she has to slip back into her lucky shoes (nude platform pumps covered in slightly worn sparkles) and perform in front of the cameras for another 15 hours. In the span of 40 hours, Lima will sell more than 250,000 products to the tune of about $10 million.

The dazzling success story of Jamie Kern Lima and IT Cosmetics began with her face, specifically her cheeks, whose blazing-pink rosacea sent her on a quest for makeup that would simultaneously cover and soothe the condition. She and her husband, Paulo Lima, consulted with plastic surgeons in Brazil, his native country, on formulas for makeup pumped with skin-care ingredients. In September, eight years after creating IT — which stands for Innovative Technology — they sold the company to L’Oréal for a stunning $1.2 billion.

Lima on-air with Desiree, a model for It Cosmetics since 2013. Photo: Dina Litovsky/Redux

The beauty industry is in big business since the release of the iPhone 4, with its front-facing camera, in 2010, followed by the birth of Instagram and Snapchat. To industry insiders, this is no coincidence. “The selfie fueled the impulse to look better,” says Carol Hamilton, group president of L’Oréal Luxe, who was instrumental in the acquisition of IT Cosmetics. “You don’t want to take a selfie wearing no makeup.”

And the goal of the makeup you wear — in selfies and in life — is to make you look as flawless as the best Instagram or Snapchat filter.

Lima, in slippers with her lucky shoes standing by, waits to go on set. Photo: Dina Litovsky/Redux

Lima’s collection of concealers and foundations is neither cool nor trendy. IT Cosmetics is to makeup as Spanx is to lingerie; it’s unsexy but gets the job done. In fact, Lima refers to her Superhero mascara as the “Spanx of mascaras.” “It takes your lashes and lifts ’em up,” says QVC host Shawn Killinger, who, perhaps for emphasis, exaggeratedly tugs up the Spanx under her hot-pink evening gown.

The business of beauty — of makeup, fragrance, skin-care and hair-care products — has become especially welcoming to newcomers like Lima with a fresh idea and a knack for selling it. The barrier to entering the department stores used to be nearly prohibitive, with department stores requiring annual sales of about $400 per square foot, plus a staff of beauty advisers and an advertising budget in the hundreds of thousands; now, marketing is as easy and cheap as a presence on social media and a copy of Building a Website for Dummies (that’s what Paulo Lima used). Investors practically drool like a cartoon fox at the sight of a ripe young creator with untapped potential. In the past five years alone, crazy money has rained down on the founders of one beauty brand after another: The Too Faced and the Becca makeup businesses sold last fall to Estée Lauder for $1.45 billion and an estimated $200 million, respectively. In addition to IT Cosmetics, L’Oréal bought Urban Decay, the makeup line with a cult following, for an estimated $300 to $400 million.

In Lima’s YouTube and QVC demonstrations, the pitch works like this: She appears before the camera looking impeccable, without a blemish or a hair out of place. Then she takes a face wipe and rubs it on her right cheek (always the right cheek). “Hello, rosacea!” Lima says genially as she uncovers a patch of skin as red and bright as a burn. She swirls a brush in a compact holding Celebration Foundation Illumination and sweeps the powder over her forehead, under her eyes, along her cheekbone, on her cheek. Her movements are swift and graceful. As she strokes, Lima says, “You can’t see the makeup on, you can’t feel the makeup, it just feels like your skin. Only better.” She articulates women’s complaints about foundation — that it’s heavy, obvious, and masklike — and offers in its place lightness, ease, speed, and a look that’s better than real. It’s a masterful performance. And Lima repeats it, almost word-for-word, over a 40-hour QVC marathon.

“I’d love to see Jamie Kern Lima with her hair down,” writes one viewer on the QVC website, a plea that could also apply to Lima’s controlled image and rehearsed, almost robotic delivery. And yet when she wipes off her makeup and shows her raw skin, it balances the slickness of her presentation. “How many people would come out to 100 million people wearing no makeup?” asks Doug Howe, executive vice-president of merchandising and planning at QVC. “That’s so powerful, and it shows her willingness to be vulnerable.”

Lima leans forward, speaking directly to the camera as if she’s confiding a secret. “I hope that by showing you my true self, it encourages you to be brave and courageous,” she says. “Courage starts by just showing up and letting ourselves be seen and, instead of being scared of it, actually getting empowered by it.” She’s selling courage and confidence for $39.56, brush included.

The exact ingredients in those products and the scientists who formulate them are “proprietary,” according to public-relations representative Erica Greenbaum at IT Cosmetics. When I show the products to an independent cosmetic chemist, Jim Hammer, he says, “The functional additives — hydrolyzed collagen; peptides; niacin; algae; hyaluronic acid; antioxidants; and vitamins A, B, C, and E — are all good, typical choices for a CC cream. But it’s hard to tell if there’s anything really unique without an ingredient statement. Given the fact that the product is so shrouded in secrecy, I have a hunch that the formulation is very good but maybe nothing all that unusual in terms of ingredients. State-of-the-art, but still conventional, ingredients.”

Still, Lima’s concealer and CC+ cream cover redness and darkness — what cosmetics companies like to call imperfections — more effectively than many competitors, and they do this without feeling heavy or dry on the skin. The CC+ cream has a remarkably elegant consistency given that it also holds an SPF 50-plus sunscreen. These are distinctions consumers recognize and praise.

Lima changes her clothes for each segment, but always wears a stretchy anchor-woman dress. Photo: Dina Litovsky /Redux

Lima, like her products, is a hardworking problem-solver. She presents herself — with her tidy bun, prim dresses, tasteful dangling earrings, and pageant posture — as almost a 1950s-era housewife. Yet under that demure veneer is a serious competitive drive. And she has never shied away from using her appearance as an asset. In the early ’90s, while she was an undergrad at Washington State University, Lima entered a contest to appear on an episode of Baywatch. Yes, she ran in slow motion on the beach in a red bathing suit. “I tripped and fell, and that also made it in the show,” she says. She followed that with a bid to become Miss Washington USA, which she won on her second try. When I ask her how she feels about participating in events that judge women on their appearance, given her current crusade for self-acceptance, she hesitates. “ has such a negative stereotype, right?” she says. “I didn’t enter it because it was about looks. I entered it to try and see more of the world. I mean, my parents had never left the country.” Besides, she adds, “Oprah did pageants. She was Miss Fire Prevention.”

Her next unlikely adventure took her to Los Angeles, where she competed on the widely panned first season of Big Brother in 2000. She was locked in a house with nine strangers and 28 cameras for three months, making it almost to the end as the last woman standing. The experience gave her a taste of being a somewhat public figure. “Afterward, I’d walk into a restaurant and people would be like, ‘You’re that girl,’” she says. “There were thousands of fan sites and thousands of hate sites. It helped me get a tougher skin.”

Lima applying her own mascara in the greenroom. Photo: Dina Litovsky/Redux

Not many reality-TV stars go straight to B-school, but that was always part of Lima’s plan. She started at Columbia in 2002 and met her future husband in a statistics class. After graduation, Paulo Lima joined an investment bank in New York and she headed back to Washington to become a local-news reporter. Once again, her looks were scrutinized, sometimes unflatteringly. “My weight fluctuated, and I was always getting in trouble about it from my producer. Viewers would write, ‘I really like you, but you should diet.’ Or, ‘Are you pregnant?’ The criticism crushed me.” It was in her anchor post that her rosacea flared up and the hair on her eyebrows fell out, spurring her to find makeup that would hide the problems but not wilt under the studio lights.

Lima’s guileless sincerity and warmth with her customers attracted Hamilton of L’Oréal to the line. “I loved how she related to women with a real voice,” says Hamilton. “She has a great desire to make women feel better about themselves in a real way. Other brands talk above the consumer. She’s taken the mystery out of cosmetics.” In joining L’Oréal, Lima became the first female CEO of an acquired subsidiary in the company’s history.

Behind the scenes, Paulo is co-CEO and Jamie’s partner. “They’re yin and yang,” says Diane Miles, CEO of TSG Beauty, the private-equity firm that invested in IT Cosmetics and readied it for sale to L’Oréal. “She’s really creative, and he’s really good at the supply chain; it’s the perfect front- and back-end combination.”

All the publicity about L’Oréal’s acquisition has had its downside. “It’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through because was on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Every person I’ve ever known has come out of the woodwork asking for things. ‘Can you help with my mortgage?’ Even with family it’s been tough.”

Lima on the QVC monitor after nearly 24 hours with little rest. Photo: Dina Litovsky/Redux

The Limas work 100-hour weeks on their business; they say they haven’t taken a single day off since IT Cosmetics started. The couple even bought a house near the Pennsylvania studios of QVC, where Jamie logs about 125 days a year. So when I ask her what she’s going to do next, having won the beauty Super Bowl, she says: “I want to go to Disneyland!” Seriously. “Although there’s a Sephora at Disneyland, so … I’ve got to figure it out. That’s on my list of goals, figuring how to unplug.”

Back in QVC’s greenroom, assistants hover around Lima, fetching water and snacks, checking the time, and shooing away anyone who might sap her energy. The stagehands change the backdrop in the fake windows to a cityscape at twilight. Lima takes off one lucky shoe and stretches her foot. Her toenails are painted emerald green. Then she looks into the camera, smiles and says, “Hello, IT girls! You are beautiful!”

*A version of this article appears in the December 26, 2016, issue of New York Magazine.

4 Female CEO’s Share Their Secrets To Success

Successful business woman


There is no playbook that can teach us a surefire way on attaining success. The best playbook is learning from the ones who have risked it all and continue to risk it all to garner that success. Although every entrepreneur has their own unique journey, integrating those valuable lessons can help you reach your definition of success. I sat down with four female CEO’s at Create & Cultivate’s Miami Vision Summit to learn their secrets to success and how they have overcome failure. Daina Trout from Health-Ade, Sophie Chiche from Shape House, Maria Molland from Thinx and Jamie Kern Lima from IT Cosmetics share their secrets below.

Daina Trout, Co-Founder & CEO, Health-Ade Kombucha

Daina Trout, Co-Founder & CEO, Health-Ade Kombucha

Courtesy of Health-Ade Kombucha

Yola Robert: What is your secret to success?

Daina Trout: There is no secret to success. Although, there are a few things I notice in mentoring other women who are getting started and I even noticed in myself that will help accelerate success. Firstly, getting over self doubt and lack of confidence. Secondly, going after it and taking a risk to accomplish a goal without getting into your head that you aren’t good enough. All the milestone jumps at Health-Ade is when we risked it all while the odds were against us. Business is like a race. Get up when you fall off the horse. The person who gets up faster and keeps moving forward wins. Who cares if you fall off the horse and make a mistake. Get back on the horse- fast! Don’t punish yourself for a mistake.

Robert: What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Trout: You do not have to care so much about what other people think. You need to define what makes you happy.

Robert: What is one failure you have been able to turn into a success?

Trout: I learned the hard way that Investors are not your friends. Do not mistake being friendly with being friends with business investors or partners. I lost more equity in a round than I should have. Now I recognize when I am at the table building a partnership that the other party is there for their own agenda and I, too, have to get my own agenda met. Only if those two things happen do we sign a contract. Approaching contracts in that lens has helped me position my partnerships for success.

Sophie Chiche, Founder & CEO, Shape House

Sophie Chiche, Founder CEO, Shape House

Courtesy of Shapehouse

Yola Robert: What is your secret to success?

Sophie Chiche: Grit, surrounding yourself with the right people. What ever talents I didn’t have in myself I would find it in other people. Also,taking care of yourself. If you can’t take care of yourself you will burn out and you won’t be able to show up for your business.

Robert: What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Chiche: Love yourself and trust in the process.

Robert: What is one failure you have been able to turn into a success?

Chiche: Going from 350 pounds to founding Shape House. After my weight loss success using infrared body wraps , I wanted to continue sharing the health benefits of this method in an easy, convenient way for the public.

Maria Molland, CEO Thinx

Maria Molland, CEO, Thinx

Jin Lee

Yola Robert: What is your secret to success?

Maria Molland: There isn’t one secret to success, but there are few pieces of advice that can help you get there. Firstly, I am very perseverant. It is a roller coaster ride in between having an idea, executing an idea, making a sale and scaling it. Often times things will go wrong. Secondly, think of every failure or things that hold you back as a learning lesson that moves you forward. It’s actually a good thing, not a bad thing. Thirdly, make sure to hire a head of HR very early. You need a lot of help to organize structures, personnel and processes. If these processes are set up early on in a companies life cycle, it is much faster and easier to scale. Finally, hire slowly, fire fast. You always now when someone isn’t going to work out.

Robert: What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Molland: My younger self didn’t like failure or risk. I would tell her to not get so hung up on the failures.

Robert: What is one failure you have been able to turn into a success?

Molland: I was the Chief European Officer of FAB. At the time it was this unicorn e-comm site with a $2 billion evaluation. It fell flat on its face within a year and sold for $10 million when it was worth $2 billion 18th months prior. I was able to take everything I learned from what had failed at FAB, to avoid making those mistakes at Thinx.

Jamie Kern Lima, Founder & CEO, IT Cosmetics

Jamie Kern Lima, Founder CEO, IT Cosmetics

Courtesy of IT Cosmetics

Yola Robert: What is your secret to success?

Jamie Kern Lima: Authenticity. It is harder than ever for people to be authentic. It’s easy in the time of social media to hear loud opinions and voices from a variety of different people even if it goes against the entrepreneurs gut on whats best for their own brand. Listen to your gut and tune out whats going on around you. If you listen to those voices, it will influence you to go in a direction that its already been done.

Robert: What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Lima: Keep faith bigger than your fear with everything you do in life.

Robert: What is one failure you have been able to turn into a success?

Lima: turning no’s into yes’s. We just sold IT for $1.2 billion to L’Oréal after three years of us talking to them about a partnership with them consistently saying no. Their “no” turned into the largest US acquisition for L’Oréal . I went from having under to $1,000 in my bank account and not knowing how to pay the only employee on payroll to selling a billion dollar company. The truth is when you put in 100 hour weeks for 10 years these things can happen.

IT Cosmetics Founder Jamie Kern Lima on Business, Beauty and Breaking Boundaries

When Jamie Kern Lima first launched IT Cosmetics in 2008, she was told “no” more times than she could count. As the business was struggling to stay afloat two years later, QVC gave her one shot at a 10-minute live on-air slot to sell 6,400 units of the brand’s now-iconic concealer.

At the time, Kern Lima knew the decision was make-or-break for IT Cosmetics, and she took a leap of faith. “People say never accept a purchase order you can’t afford to lose — which is very true — but we literally had nothing to lose,” Kern Lima says. “We were either going out of business or going all in.”

Ultimately, the risk paid off. IT Cosmetics sold out on QVC in less than 10 minutes, and the brand went on to become QVC’s largest beauty brand in history and was acquired by L’Oréal in 2016 for a record-breaking $1.2 billion.

“If I never listened to my gut on that decision, we wouldn’t be sitting here,” Kern Lima says.

Now more than a decade after the businesswoman first launched IT Cosmetics, Kern Lima announced in August that she would be stepping down from her position as CEO. While she hasn’t revealed exactly what’s in store for her next, Kern Lima’s been busy doing something else she loves, passing her business knowledge on to other female entrepreneurs.

Image zoom John Parra/Getty

“I get my greatest joy when I can help other women,” she tells PEOPLE after speaking at Beaches Resorts’ 5th annual Social Media on the Sand conference in Turks & Caicos, which provides content creators and entrepreneurs the opportunity to attend exclusive panel discussions and networking events with some of the best in business.

Read on to find out more about Kern Lima’s experience at the conference, how she hopes to empower women through beauty and more.

What do you love about speaking at an event like Social Media on the Sand?

I went through a ton growing IT Cosmetics — a lot of amazing things and a lot of things that were really, really hard. I wanted to share my journey of figuring out how to believe in myself and overcoming self-doubt, and can hopefully inspire everyone else on their journeys too. Whenever we go through things in life, if we share them so other people can benefit, it’s the best thing.

Image zoom John Parra/Getty

Your appearances on QVC helped catapult IT Cosmetics into a huge success. How has the rise of social media changed things?

Our biggest platforms are Instagram and Facebook. We built our social content from the perspective of how we can make women’s lives better. Did we make her life easier? More joyful? That’s really the mission. We try to stick to the authenticity and I believe that’s why the brand has grown.

Earlier this year, you announced that you would be stepping down as the CEO of IT Cosmetics. How did you build a team you trusted enough to take over?

Overall, we have about 70 percent women at IT Cosmetics, and around 80 percent of people in a VP position or higher are women, which is awesome. Building the team has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I wanted a team that wasn’t just one type of person. When you look across IT Cosmetics, we do not all look the same. We do not all dress the same. We do not all vote the same. We do not all love the same. When someone authentically loves our mission, that’s all that matters. If we’re building a brand where we touch lives of every woman and man out there, then our team needs to reflect that.

Image zoom John Parra/Getty

Who are some of your mentors?

Some of my mentors I’ve never even met, like I feel like Oprah was my mentor years before I ever actually met her. Carol Hamilton at L’Oréal was my mentor for years before we ever sold to L’Oréal. She is just someone that empowers other women. I also feel like my IT Cosmetics team are my mentors. We all have different strengths and can help each other in different ways.

How has being a new mom changed your approach to business?

My daughter is 1-year-old right now, and I’m like, “S—t this is real.” It’s very interesting because I have to remind myself that when I go on a work trip, I want my daughter to be raised seeing an example of being strong enough to go after your dreams and passions. No one ever asks my husband how he does it all. They don’t make him feel bad that he’s working. It’s fascinating. Also, I think the idea of balance is a lie. If you’re just trying to get balanced, you always feel like you’re failing. We need to be careful, because the concept of balance can make women feel like they’re just not enough.

Image zoom John Parra/Getty

If you could only live with three IT Cosmetics products for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Oh my gosh, this is tough. I mean, I have to choose the original CC Cream. I still use it almost every day. I’ve been obsessed with the Brow Power Micro, it’s a super skinny brow pencil. This one I feel like no one’s heard of: it’s the Je Ne Sais Quoi Rose Lip Balm. No matter what lip I try, I always go back to that one. You can also use it as blush, but I usually only use it on my lips. I’m torn though, because I love the Lash Blowout Mascara too!

What legacy do you hope to leave on the beauty world?

I want every woman to open a magazine and see the ads used by every brand and have them make her feel inspired, not like s—t. I hope our success is proof to every other decision maker inside beauty companies that they don’t have to use the old model of how to show images of beauty and make it aspirational. They can actually use their position of power to shift culture and make every man and woman feel beautiful.

How Jamie Kern Lima Negotiated a $1.2-Billion Deal for IT Cosmetics

July 12, 2018 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

IT Cosmetics has been a true disruptor in the cosmetics industry since it’s launch in 2008. Founder Jamie Kern Lima has experienced a remarkable journey as a former news anchor, to building a global brand, which was recently acquired by L’Oreal for a reported $1.2 billion in 2016. Kern Lima is also the first woman to maintain her role as CEO in L’Oreal’s 108-year history.

Related: How This Entrepreneur Dealt When Half of Her Team Quit 3 Days Before a Major Investment Deal Closed

With all of the success of IT Cosmetics, Kern Lima remains humble and gracious as a founder of a billion-dollar portfolio, which continues to experience expansion today, thanks to partnerships with QVC, Ulta Beauty, Sephora and more. I had the honor of spending time with her in IT Cosmetics’ Jersey City headquarters recently to discuss women, leadership and her advice on partnerships.

From the moment you walk into Kern Lima’s office, which has epic unobstructed views of the New York City skyline and Hudson River, there is a feeling of appreciation and gratitude. “I did not come from a cosmetics background, but I always knew I was destined for greatness. I was ambitious from an early age, often having multiple jobs,” says Kern Lima.

Kern Lima’s success is a testament to all high growth entrepreneurs, especially women, about the importance of building and maintaining valuable relationships while developing a clear exit strategy, which will protect the value and integrity of the company. What I did not realize is the sale of IT Cosmetics to L’Oreal, though monumental, was a three-year journey, filled with several false starts and promises along the way. In the end, Kern Lima knew that partnering with such a global legacy brand was the right move to continue to grow the company in the right direction, while securing a historic partnership.

Related: Refinery29’s Christene Barberich on How All the No’s Pushed Her Forward

The acquisition of IT Cosmetics is a valuable lesson about confidence, resilience and fierce negotiation. Here are four lessons that you can learn from Kern Lima’s determination about the importance of negotiating for your value as a business leader.

1. Identify the key players.

Kern Lima shared her experience of attending an event, where the president of L’Oreal’s luxury division was speaking. She says, “After the event, I went back to my office and wrote her a handwritten note that stated: I loved your speech and top 10 brands you listed, but IT Cosmetics was not on your list. If you try IT, you will love IT.” Kern Lima also enclosed a few samples, without knowing if the note was ever received.

IT Cosmetics continued to grow, without a response. However, there was a moment of fate when a mutual friend introduced Kern Lima personally to the president of the luxury division for L’Oreal, which led to identifying the value of the opportunity of partnering with IT Cosmetics.

The key takeaway of negotiating is identifying all of the important decision-makers and building relationships. This is especially imperative if your goal is to add your brand to a larger portfolio. There are often several gatekeepers in the negotiation process that you must identify before leveraging a conversation about partnerships.

Related: The Muse Co-Founder Alexandra Cavoulacos on Why ‘It’s Kind of Fun to Do the Impossible’

2. Highlight your unique value proposition (UVP).

After a series of meetings with the president of L’Oreal’s luxury division, the next step was to ensure that all of the stakeholders at L’Oreal’s HQ in France also understood the IT Cosmetics vision. “Our brand, products, messaging and imagery were all original. I wanted to assure that we create products with a luxury formula at a prestige price point, which is inclusive luxury,” says Kern Lima.

This part of the due diligence process allows the other party to consider if your brand is a fit for their portfolio. Never assume all parties understand what you offer, although your concept is in the same category. Take a moment to highlight the problem you solve with your innovation before moving to the next phase of negotiating.

Related: 3 Powerful Lessons From Women With Ambition

3. It may not happen on the first try.

There were several moments throughout the discovery process where IT Cosmetics was close to reaching a deal, and talks fell through at a moment’s notice. After a year of due diligence, both sides could not make a find middle ground.

Kern Lima boasts about remaining flexible and patient during that time, as she was assured that L’Oreal was the best partner for IT Cosmetics, and a deal could be reached. Never become emotionally invested in the negotiation process. If you have identified the best partner for your company, it will take time to fully understand your value proposition, hence delaying the deal. Remain flexible by hosting open-ended conversations to learn what it will take to earn their commitment.

Related: The First Black Woman to Own and Run a Billion-Dollar Company Says That Trusting Yourself Is Key to Success

4. Competition increases market value.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from Kern Lima was the importance of allowing the market to determine valuation. During the due diligence period between IT Cosmetics and L’Oreal, other companies also expressed interest in acquiring the company, which increased its value. Competitive interest increases demand and market value.

“By the time they made a decision, there was activity in the market to acquire IT Cosmetics. The deal happened pretty quickly, thanks to such an extended history with them and understanding the brand, ” Kern Lima adds.

An effective negotiation is a multi-tier process, which involves multiple stakeholders, patience and grit. If you are confident, willing to invest time and know your value, it will lead to a successful outcome.

Ellen DeGeneres Sells $23 Million Beach House to Cosmetics Mogul

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have been struck with the real estate lucky stick — the couple has officially unloaded their oceanfront Carpinteria retreat in a cash deal for very close to the asking price. Listed at $24 million, the property was marketed by Compass broker Suzanne Perkins and Riskin Partners Group at Village Properties.

Despite the prohibitively pricey ask, the house was in escrow within days and quickly sold for exactly $23 million — a profit-assuring $4.4 million more than the the de Rossi-DeGeneres pair paid for the property less than two years ago, back in October 2017.

The all-cash buyer, records reveal, is makeup tycoon Jamie Kern Lima and her husband, Paulo Lima. Kern Lima, a Columbia MBA holder and former reality TV contestant who was featured on the original season of “Big Brother” and also appeared on “Baywatch” in the 1990s, founded IT Cosmetics in 2008. The full-range beauty brand quickly became a staple on QVC television before it was sold, in 2016, to L’Oreal for a whopping $1.2 billion. (Despite the sale, Kern Lima remains CEO of the company.)

As for the contemporary beach shack, it sits on 77 feet of beach frontage along Carpinteria’s most prestigious residential lane. The gated estate features a serpentine, eucalyptus-lined driveway that meanders past a guesthouse before arriving at the boxy, irregularly shaped main residence. Spanning nearly 7,000 sq. ft. of starkly austere interior space, the mansion features head-on views of the Pacific Ocean from nearly every room. Interior details include soaring ceilings, crisp white walls and honey-hued hardwood floors. There are two guest bedroom suites on the main floor, along with a variety of lounge spaces, a chicly brutalist kitchen and a courtyard with outdoor fireplace.

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The home’s second floor is entirely devoted to a hedonistic master suite, which includes a minimalist bedroom with a fireplace, walls of glass and an adjacent outdoor terrace. The bathroom features another fireplace and opens directly to an enormous boutique-style walk-in closet. There’s also a rubber-floored gym and an open-air deck with more ocean views and another outdoor fireplace.

Besides the one-bed guesthouse, other features of the 1.13-acre estate include a private tennis court and a sunset-view outdoor spa. From the backyard, a short path leads over a jumble of rocks to the sandy beach.

Some of Kern Lima’s more high-profile new Carpenteria neighbors include George Lucas, Kevin Costner, tech tycoon Lynda Weinman and Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who shelled out $10.1 million two summers ago for a quaint, cottage-style oceanfront compound just a few doors away.

But it’s likely the former de Rossi-DeGeneres abode will merely serve as a part-time home for Kern Lima, who already maintains a small but seriously swank (and growing) collection of personal residences. Just last year, she shelled out a brain-melting $35 million in cash for an enormous Montecito compound long owned by billionaire Ed Snider, the late owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia Flyers professional sports teams. The property sits right next door to Oprah Winfrey’s 66-acre “Promised Land” main residence, and the $35 million sale was reportedly the priciest Santa Barbara County residential transaction in more than a decade.

Kern Lima’s main residence, however, is a $13 million contemporary villa in the Westside L.A. neighborhood of Brentwood. Set privately just off one of the area’s most prestigious hillside streets, the three-story mansion spans 11,700 square feet, and some of her nearest neighbors include LeBron James and Petra Ecclestone.

Kern Lima met with representatives from major cosmetic companies for years but was unable to sell her idea. After being rejected by retailer Sephora several times she recalls, “I didn’t know how our company was going to stay alive at that point.”

But her instincts told her that her company was not a lost cause. She tells CNBC Make It that she and her team have worked 100-hour weeks for the past ten 10 years and that her co-founder and husband Paulo Lima have not taken a day off since they launched the company.

Kern Lima’s strategy included relentless marketing and advertising. Harnessing her pageant and reporting skills, she made in-store appearances, shot YouTube videos and talked on QVC live with the same consistent message — her product worked, and she could show you.

According to The Cut, her appearances always begins with her talking calmly into the camera about women’s grievances with makeup. Then she uses a face wipe to remove the makeup on her right cheek to reveal her rosacea. Finally, she reapplies IT Cosmetics products and her red marks disappear.

“Lima repeats it, almost word-for-word, over a 40-hour QVC marathon,” writes Wells.

The message started to resonate with makeup lovers. According to Women’s Wear Daily, in 2015, IT Cosmetics reported $182 million in net sales. By early 2016, the brand was projected to pass over $400 million worth of sales. This 56 percent year-over-year increase caught the attention of L’Oreal and in August of 2016, the company made Kern Lima an offer — $1.2 billion in cash.

The deal made IT Cosmetics the French conglomerate’s biggest acquisition in eight years, according to Forbes. As the majority owner, Kern Lima pocketed about $410 million after taxes.

“I started IT Cosmetics and I knew I believed in the idea. I believed that our products would change women’s lives, but literally, everyone said ‘no,'” she says. “If you have a dream or and or you want to go into business or start your own business be ready to hear ‘no.'”

Video by Andrea Kramar.

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CEO champions diversity after being told she wasn’t the right weight. (iStock)

Jamie Kern Lima, co-founder and CEO of IT Cosmetics, has a long list of accomplishments – starting her own business, selling her company to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion in 2016 and being honored at the annual Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Achiever Awards are just some.

But Lima’s success in the beauty industry almost didn’t happen because of an investor’s concern over Lima’s size, which she recounts in her CEW awards ceremony.


“I’m just not sure women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you, you know, with your body and your weight,” the investor told Lima after she had pitched him her idea.

Rather than believe him, the once successful TV new anchor says she found a new mission – to prove the investor wrong.

Lima, a sufferer of rosacea and hyperpigmentation, needed products that would help her with her specific skin issues, which pushed her to create a line of accessible beauty products for all women.

But Lima wasn’t only out to introduce her line of cosmetics in stores – she wanted to create more diversity in beauty. In her products launch on QVC, which sold out, she chose models that went against the grain – a 73-year-old woman and an African American model with acne.

“You see now, seven years later, almost all makeup brands showing real women in before-and-afters,” Lima says.

Other beauty brands are not the only ones taking note of Lima’s billion-dollar success. The original investor reached out to Lima after her L’Oreal acquisition.

“Congratulations,” the investor said in an email. “I was wrong.”


Lima pointed out in her speech that “It would have been the most successful investment in company’s history.”

But she’s not done lobbying for inclusivity in beauty and cosmetics. She ended her speech with a final call to action for those “people who singlehandedly decide the images billions of women see around the world.”

“: How will these images impact your mothers, and your sisters, and how will they impact your daughters?”

Beauty Boss: How Jamie Kern Lima’s Insecurities Helped Her Form IT Cosmetics


As a teen growing up in Seattle, W.A., Jamie Kern Lima held four jobs at once. (She worked as a receptionist during weekdays and a gymnastics coach on weeknights, then sold popcorn at a local swap meet and bagged groceries on the weekends.) Her non-stop work ethic eventually landed her at Columbia grad school, where—through work with the school newspaper—she discovered her love of journalism and began working as a news anchor. Her career thrived, but the harsh makeup required for TV didn’t jibe with her complexion: She developed skin issues that were painful and embarrassing. After years of spending her “whole paycheck” on beauty products that superficially masked her conditions but made her skin worse, Kern Lima set out to fill the void by creating problem-solving products that performed as well as pro brands. It’d be easy to say that “just like that,” IT Cosmetics was born, but the decision marked the start of a long road for Kern Lima. This is how she turned “no”’s into “yes”’s to create one of the beauty industry’s buzziest brands.

When did you realize there was a void in the marketplace?

I was working as a journalist—writing, shooting, and anchoring the news. It was the morning news, so you get in at midnight the night before to prepare. The stress of the lifestyle and the amount of product I needed to be camera-ready caused flare-ups of rosacea and hyperpigmentation. I kind of became obsessed with beauty . I knew needed coverage, but it was so hard to find a foundation that still kept my skin looking like skin, and didn’t make my flare-ups problems worse. So from personal experience, I knew there was a place for high-performing makeup made with skin-friendly ingredients.

What were the early days of development like?

We worked out of my living room and went one product at a time. As we created, we started with skin care formulas and then infused full-coverage pigments. We tested with real women and got real before and after shots. It was all about the results. I wasn’t paying myself—all our money was going into R&D and formulation. This was only six or seven years ago.

How did you scale the business?

In the early years, all of our best retail partnerships now—Sephora, Ulta, QVC—said no to us. I heard “no” so many times. I was devastated. I didn’t know how we were going to survive—we had no distribution. But the biggest lesson I learned was not to let hearing the word “no” equate to doubt in your own mind.

But eventually, you turned “no” into “yes”—how did you manage that?
I just kept going. I kept sending product. But in the end, it was really organic—I’m so grateful for the Internet and for social media, because women would just start spreading the word, which created demand for the line.

In 2010, I was at a Cosmetic Executive Women event, and a host from QVC happened to be there. She told the buyer who was with her that she’d had customers asking her about our Bye Bye Undereye concealer, and that they should give us a chance. We had a meeting with the buyer after that, and we finally got a yes. It was once chance—ten minutes on air—and it either sold or it didn’t.

Image zoom courtesy

Wow! No pressure though, right?

We flew in six thousand units of concealer; everything was on the line. I went to QVC a week early and I sat in the parking lot and prayed and envisioned how it would go when we were on air. I had this demo prepared that showed how others creased and ours didn’t. When the day came, my hand was shaking—the host had to grab my hand on-air. Then I showed my rosacea and how our concealer could cover even that. It sold out in ten minutes.

That was 2010—we went on five times that year and the next year 101 times. The year after that, 151 times. Now we do QVC around 250 times a year. We’re the number-one brand on QVC, and among the top three in Ulta. We also just launched at Sephora. I’m so grateful.

All that said, what’s been your proudest moment related to the line?

It’s been realizing that this brand has gotten so much bigger than the products. Our mission is to create products that are game-changing, but really, they’re life-changing. We want every woman to realize she’s beautiful. We want her to see what she thinks is right, not wrong. When I do events in stores, there are often multiple generations—daughters, moms, grandmas—all saying they’re “IT girls.” It’s the coolest thing ever. So many women connect with me every single day. Part of why I show my rosacea on-camera is to remind women to be fearless, to remind them they deserve to look and feel their most beautiful. When a customer tells me that using our products has made them feel beautiful for the first time in a long time, that’s the ultimate compliment.

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