The beauty industry has received a lot of negative criticism in recent years for its level of inclusivity. Things called out have ranged from the customers they target to the ingredients that go into their products. Many consumers are now starting to vote with their wallets and are willing to shop at smaller, new brands that match their ideals. One entrepreneur who has worked in the makeup industry for 9 years and is leveraging her experience to launch an inclusive vegan, cruelty-free makeup brand is Naomi Maximen who has just launched Naomi Sadé London.
Naomi’s interest in beauty started from a young age with exposure to the industry through memories of her mother discussing launching a beauty brand and always looking glamorous, something she wanted to replicate when she got older. She pursued this interest by following many online beauty influencers long before they became the household names they are today. Through watching these videos she learned how to replicate a variety of looks and taught herself about the industry. As she went on to university her friends frequently used to seek her opinion on makeup styling and the best products to use. With the skills, she’d learned she began doing freelance bridal makeup in between her studies. It was in her second year at university she decided to get some professional experience landing a job at makeup conglomerate Estée Lauder. She worked for various brands under the umbrella such as Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Crème de la Mer, Estée Lauder, Tom Ford plus many more at some of the most prestigious flagship stores across London as a beauty consultant. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience and knew “this is the industry I wanted to build a career in”.
However, studying Business Economics and coming from a strict household with successful parents she was encouraged to pursue a more “traditional career”. She took their advice and concerns onboard but was adamant this was the right career path for her and rather than attending the careers fairs at university landed a role as a beauty consultant at Clinique when she graduated. She loved this role just as much as her first experience and knew she wanted to continue working in the industry however she had big ambitions to gain experience in a managerial role in order to understand the operational side of the beauty business.
An opportunity then came up to work as a store manager for The Body Shop, one of the brands under the L’Oréal portfolio joining a team of 12. Adept and very skilled with makeup application, this role provided a different challenge by way of managing people who were significantly older than her at 22. She relished the challenge of managing people as well as having to deal with all of the issues that come with running a store. The commercial aspect of the role allowed her to utilize many of the skills she picked up in her Business Economics degree. This store went on to be a success and won many awards within the group however once again she found herself seeking a bigger challenge and wanting to learn more.
Her next role would see her join cosmetics brand Lancôme, also under the L’Oréal umbrella where she would spend 3 years helping to build out their London store presence before also taking on a beauty education role, helping to train new store managers on how to successfully run a beauty business.
By this point, she had experience across makeup application, store management, and training employees so they could succeed. However, something that was missing having worked for older established brands was an experience at a brand that was more modern and cutting edge. She landed a management role at Urban Decay at their flagship store in London’s beauty hub Carnaby Street. However, unfortunately, Naomi was made redundant prior to the pandemic around the Christmas period which had always been Naomi’s busiest time of year making it a “very weird experience”. She decided to take a break to spend time with family over Christmas and on reflection realized through all of her career moves what she really wanted to do was launch her own brand. She didn’t know everything it entailed at that point but her varied experience and conversations with people on the commercial side of the industry gave her confidence she could provide something of value to many of the customers she used to work with.
Building Naomi Sadé London
Naomi’s 9 years of experience in the beauty industry meant she had a significant amount of interaction with customers understanding what they need. This enabled her to understand some of the things that were working well and things that were not. As a black woman who would do makeup for a number of consumers of color, she knew the amount of effort that had to go into mixing different shades to find a match for people’s skin tones. Additionally, a topic that kept coming up from consumers was whether the makeup was cruelty-free and vegan, something that was not always present. Based on this Naomi decided to launch a brand that would focus on vegan, cruelty-free makeup but offer shades and tones for consumers from many different skin tones.
Coming up with the visual concept for the brand she drew on colors within her surroundings for inspiration. Naomi created a notebook that acted like a “business bible” where she would take notes on colors such as paprika, a cup of tea, or a two pence coin as well as markdown any other product ideas, “many of which would come at night”.
Once Naomi had confidence in which tones she wanted to offer she started sourcing products and given the standard of quality she aspired to provide she partnered with one of the leading manufacturers in the UK. This rigorous process of knowing what customers need went into not only the product but also the sustainable packaging and chic branding. Feeling the brand represents herself and being immensely proud of it she has put her name on it calling the brand Naomi Sadé London. The first of the collection, Bronze Lookbook launched yesterday, an eyeshadow palette filled with twelve essential shades that are indeed truly inclusive. Naomi is already creating products to expand the range with the same ethos and focus on quality that she always wanted to give her customers.
This article is part of a series featuring underrepresented people making a difference. To submit ideas for features or keep up to date with new releases you can find me on Twitter – @TommyPF91