Having adequate products is vital to your success as a beauty influencer. You can’t show people how to properly blend foundation if you’re using the wrong shade. In the same token, it is difficult to complete a fabulous face beat with lashes that don’t match your hair.
Jennifer Renee is a beauty influencer with albinism, a congenital disorder that is characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. As a result, people with albinism have very fair skin, blonde hair, and sometimes light eyes. Because of her fair features, it was difficult for Jennifer to find lashes that complimented her.
But with the help of some friends, she was able to launch Ivoree Beauty, an affordable collection of mink lashes that would help her, and others.
“I have a group called Albinism Beauty Chat and it’s all women with albinism. We have over 1,000 members worldwide. I asked what products they have the most difficulty finding and one of the products they were trying to find were blonde eyelashes,” Jennifer told HelloBeautiful.
“We had the idea that we would try to put a collection of makeup products that we have the most difficulty finding like foundation shades and lashes. I told the group I’m going to work on making it happen. It was supposed to be a small thing just for our community, I had no idea it was going to be so big.”
Big is an understatement.
Jennifer has since added different shades of lashes to reach other women who felt underrepresented including Aubree Mink 3D Lashes ($15 on sale).
“It wasn’t just people with albinism, it was people who have red hair. The redhead girls asked me to create a red lash so I got an auburn color for them as well,” the New Yorker said.
“At first it was just for the albinism community but when I saw that other people wanted the lashes to match their hair I was like okay, we can make this a thing. People are just excited that the option is there and I’m excited that I can be apart of that. I just kind of accidentally stumbled upon having a business because I initially just made it for a small group of women and didn’t really think much about it blowing up or anything,” she continued.
There’s a great sense of accomplishment when your products are responsible for making other women feel seen. The world praised Rihanna when presented Fenty Beauty, an inclusive brand that represented all skin tones. Like Rihanna, Jennifer has managed to change the game for her community and beyond.
“I get a lot of comments back from the customers. First of all, they’re so excited to finally have a lash that matches the color of their hair. They try them on, they send me pictures, they do stories, they tell everyone how excited they are. They do say, ‘this is a game-changer,'” she shared.
Adding, “Even for me, it was exciting to just put them on and see how they look with my hair. I’ve never really worn lashes before. Rarely. But once I had the blonde lashes I was like ‘oh my gosh, it really looks cool.'”
Jennifer is very open about her experience as an albino woman living in today’s society, stressing that there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to have albinism, including life-long effects on one’s eyesight. According to WorldBlindUnion.org, almost all people with albinism are visually impaired, with the majority being classified as legally blind. Jennifer has made it her mission to also uses her platform as a way to educate others on her condition.
“I talk about some of the challenges that I face on my Instagram. Most of the time my friends are like ‘I didn’t know that you were legally blind’, they don’t notice because I don’t look legally blind. I talk about some of the social things that can be difficult, like when you can’t see people waving at you,” she said.
The albino community is under-represented in the beauty industry. While there are a handful of successful albino models, such as Kimberly Leech and Thando Hapo, they’re rarely found in beauty campaigns. Shifting the conversation to be inclusive and understanding will help in educating those who don’t have a full understanding of albinism.
“More representation would be great. I think it’s great because a lot of people have the misconception that we’re unable to do a lot of things. That we’re unable to be productive in society or that we can’t be independent adults. Things like that. When I was younger a lot of people would tell me that I couldn’t do things because I couldn’t see,” she explains.
“They didn’t really try to find ways to adapt things so that I would be able to do them, so there were a lot of things I had to figure out on my own. It was a lack of understanding and resources that I didn’t have access to. I think more people should be aware that people who are legally blind or blind are able to do so many different jobs. We might need a few adaptations to do them, but we are definitely capable if we have a desire to do something.”
In the meantime, Jennifer is thrilled about the direction of her business. What started as a small project, has blossomed into a product that is empowering women who want to be included in beauty trends. While she has accomplished that, she’s not done yet.
“The goal is to expand the lashes to different styles and shapes. I want to get them made in synthetic material and then I’d eventually like to add the cosmetics line that was initially a part of the goal. It would have the foundation shades, palettes and things like that. Just a collection of colors that would work the best for someone with albinism.”