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Cheekbone Beauty: How One “Crazy” Dream Led This Entrepreneur To Create a Brand to Empower Indigenous Youth

September 22, 2021

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How One “Crazy” Dream Led This Entrepreneur To Create a Socially-Conscious Beauty Brand to Empower Indigenous Youth

By: Madeleine Wisecup

Cheekbone Beauty

How One “Crazy” Dream Led This Entrepreneur To Create a Socially-Conscious Beauty Brand to Empower Indigenous Youth

Jenn Harper woke up in the middle of the night in 2015 after having, as she shares, a “crazy dream.” A dream where Native girls were playing with lip gloss, making a mess but, above all else, filled with JOY!


The beginnings of Cheekbone Beauty

Jenn Harper woke up in the middle of the night in 2015 after having, as she shares, a “crazy” dream. A dream where Native girls were playing with lip gloss, making a mess and, above all else, filled with joy. She jumped out of bed, reached for pen and paper and proceeded to write down everything she had witnessed in her dream. Interestingly enough, having little to no business experience at the time, she had no idea that what she was actually drafting was her first ever business plan for what would come to be known as “Cheekbone Beauty” — a socially conscious cosmetic brand that empowers and brings hope to indigenous youth.

Little did she know that this vision, this dream, this calling, however you want to define it, would be the beginnings of a healing journey that would change not only Jenn’s life but countless others as well.

Jenn Harper’s Story

As an Anishinaabe-Canadian, Jenn’s journey has not been an easy one. Throughout most of her adult life Jenn unfortunately battled with an addiction to alcohol. An addiction that sadly afflicted numerous other members in her family as well. Most notably her grandmother, who unbeknownst to Jenn at the time, was a residential school system survivor.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “the residential school programs isolated Indigenous children from their families and communities. Under the guise of educating and preparing Indigenous children for their participation in Canadian society, the federal government and other administrators of the residential school system committed what has since been described as an act of cultural genocide. As generations of students left these institutions, they returned to their home communities without the knowledge, skills or tools to cope in either world. The impacts of their institutionalization in residential school continue to be felt by subsequent generations. This is called intergenerational trauma.” Intergenerational trauma that Jenn’s family still personally experiences today.

Intergenerational Trauma

After learning about her grandmother’s experience in the residential school system, Jenn started gaining a better understanding of how intergenerational trauma had personally impacted her family. In fact, today researchers are finding that intergenerational trauma is often directly linked to a greater risk for mental distress, depression, addictive behaviors and substance mis-use, just to name a few.

Ultimately, this historical family knowledge helped Jenn to overcome her own struggle with alcoholism, inspiring her to create and redefine a new story for herself and the next generation. A story of hope, healing, and empowerment.

Because, as Jenn shares, “when there’s generational trauma there’s also generational healing and generational wisdom.” And that is the new story and mission that she, Jenn Harper, as the founder of Cheekbone Beauty, strives to share with others in her community and around the world.

It’s an honor to have Jenn on the podcast today to share her personal and entrepreneurial journey with all of us. She truly is a beacon of light for so many and leading a movement that, I believe, we can all fully get behind and support.

In this episode we chat about:

  • Jenn’s battle with alcoholism, her grandmother’s experience in the Residential School System, and the impact this trauma had on her family throughout multiple generations
  • The importance of healing and creating new pathways
  • Jenn’s mission to use Cheekbone Beauty as a tool to help empower the next generation of Indigenous youth
  • How Jenn overcame the entrepreneurial challenges of launching a business with only $500 in her bank account
  • Why creating an eco-friendly and socially conscious brand is so important to Jenn
  • The importance of showing up and never giving up (even when things are challenging)
  • What success means to Jenn
  • Shannen’s Dream + other organizations Cheekbone Beauty donates to in order to support Indigenous youth
  • How we can all support Indigenous communities
  • And more!

Connect with Cheekbone Beauty:

Resources discussed:

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