Welcome to Social Good Creators. In partnership with RARE GLOBAL — a boutique talent management firm to digital superstars and content creators in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle — we profile YouTubers who are using their platforms to make an extraordinary contribution to their communities and positively impact humankind. Each week, we’ll chat with a creator about how they became an influencer, the causes that inspire them, and why they’re committed to change the world for the better.
For years, Jackie Aina was too shy to wear even foundation in public.
As a child, she cultivated a private interest in makeup, but the idea of wearing anything around other people, from skin tone foundation to bold, bright colors, was intimidating. It wasn’t until Aina was 17 that she found the courage to share her passion with those around her — and then with the internet at large.
See, as a fledgling makeup enthusiast, she wanted to sharpen her skills with more than advice from magazines and makeup counters. Like many folks, Aina turned to YouTube for tutorials, but this was 2009, and there weren’t many women of color sharing beauty videos on the platform.
So she decided to make her own.
Now, 10 years later, the bona fide beauty guru (who has 3 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.2 million followers on Instagram) does much more than wear makeup. She designs it.
Her most recent creations, nine shades of foundation that are part of Too Faced’s Born This Way line, came out last summer. She’s had a partnership with the brand since 2015, and it approached her to help expand Born This Way because of her expertise in makeup for women with dark skin tones. As she said at the time, creating her shades took two years of skilled work, because she wanted to mix new, dark shades based on various undertones. Since most dark shades default to a red undertone, and there are plenty of people of color who don’t have skin with red undertones, she spent time carefully formulating foundations with olive and gold bases. Aina’s nine additions to the line included Too Faced’s three darkest shades ever — the kinds of shades that are still rarely produced by beauty brands, despite overwhelming need for them.
Aina’s hard work in building her platform (which often involves her trying makeup products, giving her thoughts on new fashion and beauty lines, and, of course, producing the tutorials she needed as a teenager) has brought her to a place where she can use her voice to push the beauty world to be better for people of color.
Check out our chat with her below.
Tubefilter: So first, tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you do in the days before you became an influencer?
Jackie Aina: I’m a California native, born and raised! Born in Los Angeles, and will probably always be a West Coast girl. Before doing the YouTube thing full-time, I was in the U.S. Army and did a lot of retail jobs on the side while I served in the reserves. I also, at one point, worked for MAC Cosmetics, and started doing makeup around the time I started my channel! My love for beauty really boomed around 2007 and 2008.
Tubefilter: What drew you to makeup? When did you realize makeup could turn into a career for you?
JA: I’ve always been a creative person, and was intrigued by makeup as early as 10 years old, but I was way too embarrassed to actually do it until I was about 17. Then I got the confidence to wear color and try foundations, and over the years, I started practicing on friends and family too! When I was living in Hawaii in 2009 (which is also the year I started my YouTube channel) I realized it was really difficult finding makeup tutorials for women of darker complexions, so I began doing my own out of boredom, and really just for fun. I’m not exaggerating, I didn’t start pursuing a career in social media until about five or six years into it. Up until 2014 or 2015, I was still doing jobs on the side — things like hair, makeup, and I even went to cosmetology school and became licensed. I just did whatever paid the bills, and then I completely decided I was going to put my ALL into my channel around 2015.
Tubefilter: What made you choose YouTube as the place to share your content? Did you come to YouTube with a content strategy already in place, or did you develop your content over time?
JA: I had zero strategy in the beginning because I had no idea in 2009 that YouTube would become what it is now. I naturally started with YouTube because makeup tutorials are so visual, and back then, it was really difficult finding other women who looked like me. I wanted better representation for darker-skinned tutorials. I definitely began to develop more strategies once I decided to take it on full-time, and I do think it’s always a journey finding what works, what doesn’t, what’s evolving, what’s dying, and what’s trending.
Tubefilter: You use your platform to speak about the importance of embracing diversity. Why is spreading love for diverse people so important to you?
JA: It comes naturally. It’s not even something I have to think about, because I’d always done it from the beginning anyway. It’s quite literally why I started my channel in the first place.
Tubefilter: Why is it important to you, in general, that you use your platform for social good?
JA: I don’t think people should talk about things they know nothing about or aren’t knowledgeable in, but also I definitely feel like if people are going to listen to you and be influenced by you, then you might as well put that to good use.
Tubefilter: Tell us about your ongoing Too Faced collaboration! How did that come about? How does your philanthropy factor in to the way you design your shades?
JA: I organically started working with Too Faced around 2015, when they asked me to be the swatch model for all their lipsticks after meeting me for the first time at an event. Then, later on, they would hit me up about opportunities to swatch new launches here and there, and I LOVED the team — and Jerrod Blandino [Note: Blandino is Too Faced’s cofounder and chief creative officer], of course — so they always kept in touch.
They knew I already had a strong voice about better representation for complexion products, and they also knew where they were lacking, so they reached out and asked if I wanted to help them expand their Born This Way line of foundations. The partnership was something that was so authentic to what I use my platform for anyway, so I was really excited and honored I could do something that was, in a way, changing the industry (or helping to!).
Tubefilter: Why is it important for influencers who work with makeup companies to ensure they’re embracing women of color when they design new products?
JA: I think the weight of diversity in beauty shouldn’t just be the responsibility of black women. Those who are privileged should use their voices too!
Tubefilter: If you could make just one change in the world, what would it be?
JA: Too many to name!
Tubefilter: Do you think influencers who have large followings — or even modest followings — have a responsibility to use their platforms for good?
JA: Yes and no. I’d rather if someone deesn’t know what they’re talking about, don’t force it, don’t do what doesn’t come naturally to you. But you can also make the industry a better place by what you DON’T do. For example, don’t be a jerk, don’t be a racist, don’t exploit your young followers, etc.
Tubefilter: What are your future plans, both in your career and in your pursuit of social good?
JA: I would love to see more influencers who look like me be able to fill more spaces in our community, and see more opportunities being created for other black women too! Also, better representation for black men in beauty, and better representation for nonbinary and plus-size vloggers!!
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