St. Catharines woman wins major award at inaugural Indigenous Entrepreneurship Awards
Published November 8, 2021 at 5:20 pm
A St. Catharines woman won a major award at the inaugural Indigenous Entrepreneurship Awards held late last week, which celebrate excellence and outstanding achievement and impact in Indigenous entrepreneurship.
Jennifer Harper, who founded cosmetic company Cheekbone Beauty (47 Commerce Place), featuring her signature line, Warrior Women Liquid Lipsticks, won the Entrepreneur Icon Award for a business that quite literally came to her in a dream.
Harper, who’s Anishinaabe, has been making a name for Cheekbone Beauty in the beauty industry for several years, ensuring they are cruelty-free and starting with raw ingredients from products to packaging and gaining popularity after being on the hit CBC show Dragons Den.
It was on Dragons Den in 2019 that Harper boldly turned down Vincenzo Guzzo after he offered her $125,000 because he wanted a 50 per cent stake in exchange. She turned thumbs down but given her exposure was able to find the right investors for her.
Through Cheekbone Beauty, Harper hopes to help Indigenous youth see themselves in a beauty brand while helping to bring Indigenous values to the beauty industry.
“Cheekbone Beauty would like to be a role model for Indigenous youth, leading with love and being courageously curious,” she said.
“We are proud of the innovation we are working on. The steps we are taking will have lasting effects on the beauty industry. We hope to help provide a place where Indigenous youth can also see their potential… using Indigenous wisdom and teachings to build better.”
And that dream? In 2015, she dreamed she was creating lip gloss for young Indigenous girls. One problem. Harper had mostly been in the food and hospitality industry and knew little about starting a business, much less a cosmetics company.
Of course, that didn’t stop her and she doesn’t believe it should stop others like her. She herself was estranged from her Indigenous family for much of her childhood and adult life.
However, after learning about her grandmother’s experience in residential schools, she understood how her family was affected by generational trauma. This drove her to understand and overcome her struggle with alcoholism.
And she has a pretty big fan in St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, who proudly said after her win, “In everything that Jenn does at Cheekbone Beauty, she is making a difference – in the lives of Indigenous youth, educating Canadians about Indigenous women’s contributions and creating opportunities for women in business in Niagara.”
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