October 2023 Beauty/Nails
A h s a k i
L a F r a n c e - C h a c h e r e
(Diné & Black)
A h - S h í B e a u t y
Indigenizing The Beauty Industry
What inspired you to start Ah-Shí Beauty?
For the first time in history, a tribal member has created a beauty brand that caters to Native Nations and Indigenous communities worldwide. Ah-Shi Beauty is an innovative brand that challenges the norms of the beauty industry. The significance of representation cannot be understated. Ah-Shi Beauty is a brand that not only provides exceptional beauty products, but also represents the voices of Native Nations. As a proud member of the Dine (Navajo) Reservation, I identify with many "REZ KIDS" who have grown up on and off the reservation. For decades, we have lacked a brand that genuinely resonates with our culture and values. Ah-Shi Beauty is more than just a beauty brand; it embodies the spirit of our ancestors, elders, current, and future generations. This brand encompasses all individuals of different skin shades, representing "all the five-fingered beings".
What does "Ah-Shì represent?
In Diné (Navajo), the term "Ah-Shí" translates to "This is Me, This is Mine." Therefore, when you refer to "Ah-Shí Beauty," you're essentially stating "This is my beauty." This signifies that you establish your own personal beauty standards and hold the power to define it. By utilizing Ah-Shí Beauty products, you'll be able to perceive yourself in a positive light that no one can diminish.
"In Diné (Navajo), the term "Ah-Shí" translates to "This is Me, This is Mine." Therefore, when you refer to "Ah-Shí Beauty," you're essentially stating "This is my beauty." This signifies that you establish your own personal beauty standards and hold the power to define it".
How has your culture influenced your personal journey and path to becoming an
My upbringing in a family with deep-rooted traditional values has taught me to cherish and honor the use of herbs in our cultural ceremonies and daily self-care. It is imperative that we respect our cultural teachings and approach the use of natural resources with reverence. While we incorporate various natural raw ingredients in our products, we refrain from using herbs that hold sacred significance in our culture. These herbs require specific procedures and traditional prayers to be used, and we cannot extract them without disrupting their intended purpose. Furthermore, I abide by the teachings of many mothers and grandmothers on my reservation, which emphasizes the importance of presenting oneself respectfully. I ensure that I am attired in traditional jewelry and my hair is neatly tied up in a Tsiiyeel, which is a traditional hair bun. I also wear my favorite cedar beads (Juniper Berry) bracelet and use our face and body wash to maintain cleanliness. This practice goes beyond physical appearance, as it symbolizes not just oneself, but also one's family, community, and nation.
Why is indigenizing the beauty industry important to you?
Our Role in Preserving Cultural Identity in the Beauty Industry. As ambassadors of our culture, we hold the power to advance the preservation of our cultural identity. Our heritage goes back several generations before our nation's founding, and the beauty industry demands our participation now more than ever. I was raised in Beshbetoh, Arizona, a community that existed long before the United States' treaty. My upbringing instilled in me cultural values that form the core of Ah-Shi Beauty. As a Native Beauty Brand, we represent not only my tribe, but also other Indigenous nations with dignity, sharing personal narratives and experiences from my heritage with confidence. I am unwavering in my commitment to advise the beauty industry on tribal representation in campaigns, eliminate cultural appropriation, and foster cultural appreciation.
"As a Native Beauty Brand, we represent not only my tribe, but also other Indigenous nations with dignity, sharing personal narratives and experiences from my heritage with confidence".
Tell us more about the different products that you offer.
We offer a comprehensive range of skincare and cosmetics products. Presently, we are undergoing a rebranding process, and our premier products are available for purchase online and through our retail affiliates.
Do you have a favorite product from your brand?
Skincare - Protect our daily moisturizer
Cosmetics - BB Cream, Skinny Brow Pencil and Vitamin E Lip Balm
You are the first Native American beauty brand to launch an entire foundation collection? Are there obstacles you had to overcome to achieve this milestone?
Staying Focused on the Journey. It's crucial to stay true to your path and not worry about what other companies are doing. Remember your initial motivation for starting your business, as it's easy to get sidetracked by growth and trends. My own reminder is that Ah-Shi Beauty will become an iconic brand in the beauty industry by remaining focused and true to itself. Iconic brands stay in their lane and prioritize longevity over fleeting popularity.
Maintaining Balance through Hozho "Balance" in the Dine (Navajo) culture is called Hozho. Achieving Hozho means being centered with all the elements, which is challenging in the beauty industry. However, I believe it's worth it because it allows me to have peace of mind and to watch my brand stand out and shine brightly without resorting to gimmicks. I continue to Walk in Beauty, which is an essential part of our daily routine as Dine people. This practice has been passed down from generation to generation and will continue to be passed down to future generations.
The creation of our foundation collection proved to be the most challenging aspect of our journey. As I grew up surrounded by strong female role models, particularly my Native Aunties, honesty was always a core value. With my mom and sisters accompanying me throughout the process, we were able to finalize an exceptional foundation shade range. I extend my appreciation to the women in my family who have supported me throughout this journey.
"Maintaining Balance through Hozho "Balance" in the Dine (Navajo) culture is called Hozho. Achieving Hozho means being centered with all the elements, which is challenging in the beauty industry".
Representation is extremely important in the beauty industry. How do you navigate embracing your own culture, while also embracing inclusivity with people who want to buy your products?
My approach to balancing traditional ways of life with the modern world has proven successful in building impactful businesses, while remaining true to my authentic self. As a Native entrepreneur, I do not have to conform or perform in an exaggerated manner to please the industry. Instead, I remain true to my culture, while still holding my ground in any room I enter. It is essential to protect our culture from cultural vultures, sharing only enough to avoid exploitation. We all share the responsibility to push our culture forward respectfully, correctly, and authentically.
In building Ah-Shi Beauty and other businesses, I incorporated traditional practices passed down to me by my family. The method of preparing a cornfield, planning the planting process, and caring for the livestock on our ranch all served as inspiration for building a solid foundation for my businesses. Preparation is key, and having a solid plan in place is crucial in navigating a growing business. As a CEO or "boss," I work for my team, not the other way around. We work together, and together, we all succeed.
My team and I operate like a family, similar to the way we work together during ceremonies on the reservation. Each member has their unique skill set and station, but we all contribute to the ultimate goal of healing our community. Planning ahead and thinking of the seasons to come is crucial in running a successful business, just as it was for my family's daily life on the reservation.
"As a CEO or "boss," I work for my team, not the other way around. We work together, and together, we all succeed".
My upbringing taught me the importance of teamwork, planning, and caring for others, and I have incorporated these values into my business practices. As a result, Ah-Shi Beauty is flourishing, and I am grateful for my team's unwavering support and hard work.
Where are some store locations where people can find Ah-Shi Beauty?
Macys.com, I closed all my physical stores during the pandemic.
Are there any challenges you've had to overcome as a CEO?
The reservation system, with its over-regulation and oppressive nature, presents significant obstacles that undermine our treaty rights and tribal leadership. Continual efforts are required to secure our basic water rights, given the bureaucratic red tape that restricts our progress. As a Dine (Navajo) Business owner, I understand the complexity of operating under these circumstances. To overcome these challenges, I have established businesses that can operate both on and off the reservation. While I acknowledge the limitations of a system designed to remain entrenched in red tape, I remain hopeful that our new tribal leaders will facilitate positive change and create opportunities for Dine (Navajo) Business owners to thrive in our homeland. We are a Nation within a Nation, and my commitment is to continue building my businesses in the hope of contributing to positive transformation on my reservation.
"We are a Nation within a Nation, and my commitment is to continue building my businesses in the hope of contributing to positive transformation on my reservation".
What are some words of advice that you can give to future entrepreneurs who want to start a beauty company?
It's crucial to recognize that you are an integral part of something beyond yourself. Your aspirations and ambitions have the potential to materialize if you believe in them. Remember, the only obstacle that can hinder your progress is you. Embrace your culture, language, stories, and teachings, and take pride in your identity. You possess tremendous strength, and with that, you have the power to achieve greatness. Safeguard your Hozho - your tranquility, aspirations, and journey towards beauty. The foundation of Indigenous Generational Wealth commences with you. Therefore, build with intentionality and mindfulness, keeping a constant connection to prayer.
Can you leave out readers with a daily beauty tip or product recommendation?
Embrace your natural beauty, accepting your flaws as part of your unique self. Use beauty products as a tool to enhance your innate features, and experiment with colors to find your unique style. Remember, you set your own beauty standards. It's essential to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water and ensuring you get adequate rest. As a busy Native Boss Babe, I know the value of hard work, but it's vital to find balance in life. Engage in a hobby or sport that ignites your passion and savour each day, regardless of its nature.
"Embrace your natural beauty, accepting your flaws as part of your unique self. Use beauty products as a tool to enhance your innate features, and experiment with colors to find your unique style. Remember, you set your own beauty standards".
Outside of your business, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy?
Horse riding is a cherished activity for me, considering my background in a rodeo family. Although I don't compete regularly like my husband and family members, I still take time to swing my rope when I need a break from my laptop. Also, I'm passionate about traveling and exploring different cuisines. As a food enthusiast, I frequently visit my preferred local restaurants to relish my favorite meals with my family.
K a r i h w e n h á : w i K i r b y (Kanyen'kehà:ka/Mohawk)
M a k e - u p A r t i s t &
C o n t e n t C r e a t o r
What inspired you to start your journey as a makeup artist?
I was inspired at a young age to begin my career as a makeup artist. I knew that I was going to makeup school when I graduated high school. I had always loved expressing myself through art and found ways to experiment with my creativity. Likewise, there was barely any Indigenous representation in the beauty industry, and I wanted to change that. I want to be able to show the younger generation that you can pursue whatever makes you happy. I watched YouTube tutorials, and practiced for hours until I felt confident enough in myself and my abilities to start taking clients. I have been in the industry now for seven years. I love making people feel confident and beautiful inside and out. It's one of the aspects that I love the most and continues to inspire me.
Where are you located?
I am located in Kahnawake. A reserve located outside of Montreal, Quebec.
How would you describe your makeup artistry style?
My makeup artistry style is natural, but still glam. I take the “less is more” approach with all of my clients to ensure that they still look and feel like themselves. I use techniques to enhance and accentuate their natural features, while still providing a glammed-up look. However, I am a very versatile artist with skills in special effects, bridal makeup, editorial, and film.
"My makeup artistry style is natural, but still glam. I take the “less is more” approach with all of my clients to ensure that they still look and feel like themselves. I use techniques to enhance and accentuate their natural features, while still providing a glammed-up look".
Are you more of a full glam or natural makeup person?
I am definitely both that’s for sure. On some days, I absolutely love creating intricate full glam looks…especially with glitter. On other days, I love rocking a natural look with tinted sunscreen, mascara, bronzer, and lipgloss.
Do you have any favorite makeup products or brands?
Some of my favorite brands include: Cheekbone Beauty, Prados Beauty, and Danessa Myricks. I enjoy using products that are high quality, unique, and can be used in multiple ways. The Cheekbone Beauty Unify Multi Pencils are so creamy and easy to use. Prados Beauty has some of the most insane pigments, and Danessa Myricks is a makeup revolutionary and visionary.
Can you leave our readers with a daily skincare tip that can help them apply makeup more flawlessly?
You always need to make sure that you hydrate your skin before applying your makeup, no matter the skin type. The trick is to use an emollient moisturizer like Embryolisse, which will allow the makeup to sit nicely on the skin and avoid cakiness. If you have oily skin, then the SkinFix Barrier Restoring Gel Cream controls oil, while providing a beautiful canvas for makeup application.
"You always need to make sure that you hydrate your skin before applying your makeup, no matter the skin type".
Are there any challenges you've had to overcome as a makeup artist?
There are definitely anxieties that can come around, and it can be hard to hear the words “no” in the beginning. I had to come to the realization early on that not every client will like your style of makeup, and that’s okay. Finding your way through the industry and making a name for yourself can be very discouraging at times. It’s important to keep the fire lit inside of you and never to give up.
"It’s important to keep the fire lit inside of you and never to give up".
What are some words of advice that you can give to future makeup artists who want to build their portfolio or open a studio?
Networking will definitely be one of your best friends! Meet and learn from other artists, everyone has different tips and techniques. Connect with hairdressers, photographers, stylists, and collaborate on projects to build your portfolio. You never know who you may come into contact with! Likewise, post your business on social media to help reach more clientele and build a community.
Outside of your business, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy?
I enjoy portrait and beauty photography, exercising, beading earrings, and binge watching my favorite shows!
Photos by: Denita Gladeau
Y u k u - n a G l o w
Founded by Kimberly Mann (Payne)
More Than Makeup
What inspired you to start Yuku-na Glow?
I have loved makeup and the artistry of it for as long as I can remember, but I think I was mostly inspired by my dad. I fell in love with the transformation process, and watching him evolve into this beautiful, confident person when he applied his makeup. I lost my dad unexpectedly in 2009 and wanted to do something that honored him as an Aboriginal man, and his experiences within the drag industry and as a gay male. I combined my love of beauty, my own personal journey, and my passion for empowering people, then Yuku-na Glow was born - the first Aboriginal owned cosmetics brand creating products that represent culture, connection, and country.
There was no other Aboriginal-owned cosmetics brand creating these types of products. At first, I was on a mission to ensure that there was representation for my people within the mainstream beauty world by creating these products. I soon came to the realization that I don't need to fight for space within the industry that has for so long denied access, that is filled with tokenism, division, and other challenges. An industry that no matter what I wore, how much makeup I applied, or how much I starved myself before attending, I would not feel a sense of belonging or good enough. I needed to create a new space within the industry. One that is willing to continue to evolve and adapt. One that ensures nobody ever feels left behind. That's what inspired me.
What does the name Yuku-na Glow represent?
Yuku-na means "in the sun" in Barkindji / Paakantyi, which is my traditional language. Representing my country, my ancestors, my mob. The sun is represented on our flag and is the giver of life and our protector. It's something that tribal groups across the many nations in this country could connect with. Our products are created to make you feel good inside and out and empower you - the glow ups hit a little different here, which is why we chose Yuku-na Glow.
"Yuku-na means "in the sun" in Barkindji / Paakantyi, which is my traditional language. Representing my country, my ancestors, my mob. The sun is represented on our flag and is the giver of life and our protector".
How has your culture influenced your journey as an entrepreneur?
Every single product is created with intent. The colors in the palettes represent the country, the cover features Aboriginal artwork and products are named in language where possible. I encourage that when people use these products, they take the time to educate themselves on the truth and history of Australia, and with each swipe of color they take the time to understand the importance of connection and country for First Nations people. Culture is at the forefront of every decision made and the brand was created to honor that, the people, the country, the knowledge, beauty, and strength we hold. The 65,000+ years of sacred wisdom from the oldest living culture in the world that is within us. There have also been many challenges faced along the way and a strong reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done to make the industry a safe inclusive space. Yuku-na Glow and our new Kuntha-la Program have big visions and plans that will ensure that people nationwide have access to beauty, self-care, and well-being products to feel confident, empowered, and worthy of reaching goals. A lot of the profit from products sold is redistributed.
"Culture is at the forefront of every decision made and the brand was created to honor that, the people, the country, the knowledge, beauty, and strength we hold".
Tell us more about the different products that you sell.
Products include: eyeshadow palettes, multi-chrome pigments, lip kits, perfumes, face glosses, blending sponges, and foundation. I am in the process of designing a whole range of other products such as blush, highlight, mascara, brow products, and more. Also, I have a fashion range that showcases personal stories, family, connections, and experiences throughout my art. We have stockists Australia wide and have sent a couple of orders internationally. All products are cruelty free & vegan friendly.
What is your favorite product from your brand?
I am proud to have launched the very first Aboriginal-owned foundation line. Currently, we have 15 shades available and we're in the process of creating a further 40+ shades to be introduced as we continue to grow. I think my favorite product would have to be an eyeshadow palette called Darling Baaka. The Baaka is the river that I belong to, and the shades represent the red dirt, the way the sun glistens and reflects of the Karlpi Nguku (freshwater), the colors of the sun setting on the country - my favorite view.
You have very unique product names and packaging! What inspires your package designs and product names?
The products are named in language where possible, language was one of the things taken away from us due to colonization. Revival of First Nations languages is in the process - I am still learning mine. It's been hard because most of it is through written word. I am not fluent in this, but I try to use traditional names and words as much as I can. The designs are my own artwork. I have done art since I was a little girl, and my family is very creative. I have experience in graphic design, which has also helped along the way.
Are there any challenges you've had to overcome as a CEO?
There have been so many challenges I've had to overcome. I have never viewed myself as a CEO, and it still seems crazy to me that I own and run a business. I always assumed that people who owned businesses come from wealth, and have access to a range of things that I just don't. Growing up we always had to make do with what we had, so why did business have to be any different. I think the biggest challenge has been the inner work that I had to do to make myself believe that I am worthy of this, and that I am capable and deserve this. My beautiful Ngamaka (mother) always reminds me that I was made to do this. She empowers me and grounds me constantly reminding me of my "why" to encourage me to keep growing. My family believed in me and supported me to make it happen. The challenges are worth the stress though because the impacts of making other people feel empowered, beautiful, confident, and worthy of taking up space means everything to me.
What are some words of advice that you can give to future entrepreneurs who want to start a cosmetics company?
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. You need patience, perseverance, and passion to make it work and the rest will come.
"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. You need patience, perseverance, and passion to make it work and the rest will come".
Can you leave our readers with one beauty tip to apply makeup smoothly and remove makeup without breakouts?
Skincare and drink your water babes. Good skin helps create a smooth canvas for makeup application - but never let a breakout or blemish make you feel flawed, embrace the skin you were blessed with. I suffer from PCOS and this has been a big barrier for me personally in the past. I've learnt to love the skin I'm in because it was created by those who come before me, how could I not honor that.
Outside of your business, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy?
I love the business so much that it's basically my favorite hobby. I work full-time in the community providing support to women and children who have experienced Domestic and Family Violence or have been impacted by the Stolen Generations. I have also created a not-forprofit organization called Kuntha-la Program, with my sister, that delivers programs and mentoring for community and youth to encourage and promote self-care and well-being as well as ensure ongoing access to personal care and beauty items. Any spare time I do get is spent out in Nature with my son and husband, playing with my fur baby Randy, creating art, weaving, fashion design, collecting feathers, and sipping iced coffees!Follow At:
Instagram: @yukuna.glow and @kuntha.la