Meet Niala and Tia Howard, our Business Spotlight of the month! Every month we will highlight a black business in the Greater New Orleans area.
It’s always a pleasure to hear stories of successful entrepreneurs in the city, but nothing excites me more than to hear from my friend, Crystal Brown, that two Black women who also happen to be sisters from New Orleans are on the way to the top of the makeup industry. When it comes to makeup application, I’m not the best, so I decided to take a trip down to their new storefront, 612 Julia St for a lesson!Name: Niala Howard Twitter Handle: @MagnoliaMakeup Age: 32 Hometown:New Orleans Degree: M.A. Architecture History Name: Tia Howard Twitter Handle: @MagnoliaMakeup Age: 24 Hometown: New Orleans Degree: Culinary Arts & Hospitality Well before the new-entrepreneurial spirit of New Orleans and creative spirit took off, these two southern belles founded Magnolia Makeup in 2008. Niala Howard, a makeup artist and a student of Architectural History, always had trouble finding makeup that complimented her skin tone.”I wanted makeup that was fierce enough for the brownest skin tone and that worked with my sensitive skin.” Tia Howard, the younger sister and the self-proclaimed “girly girl” always played in makeup. What little girl didn’t play in their mother’s makeup. [quote_left] Tia’s love of makeup goes all the way back to her collection of Lipsmackers [/quote_left]
“After I saw how much my sister enjoyed Makeup Artistry, I decided to use my savings as an upstart”, said Niala. Their business didn’t take off immediately. After two years of product research and numerous test trials out of their mom’s kitchen, the duo formulated their very own makeup line. By 2008, the southern belles launched their first collection under the moniker, Magnolia Makeup. The two did everything themselves. This isn’t a small feat. Makeup product developers must be able to create formulas, design packaging, market the product line and create relationships to be able to distribute.
The makeup line is described as a sample of a spectrum. The sisters wanted to fill a much needed void for women of color in the makeup industry. “We focused on bright, punchy-bold eye colors, says Tia. If you haven’t noticed, New Orleans is the makeup line’s number one influence. Magnolia Makeup offers eye shadows, glitter, blushes, foundations, highlighters, lip fixes and much more. You have the choice of picking eye shadows influenced by New Orleans’ own Big Shot, Garden District, Calliope, Speak Easy, Tchoupitoulas, Bywater, Sassafras, Big Easy, 2nd Line and my favorite Buck Jump.
If you think that’s fun, check out the confection-inspired foundations such as, Toffee, Caramel, Cafe Au Lait, Praline and Chicory. In addition to developing makeup lines, Niala and Tia also hold makeup classes at their storefront.
After walking around the store, I noticed a few pieces of jewelry in a glass display. After taking notice, Niala pointed out that they also design and create their own jewelry.
Niala and Tia are surely two driven women making a change in the New Orleans beauty and makeup world. Not only are they a making a significant economic impact in New Orleans, but they’re creating new opportunities and products for beauty and makeup industry professionals in the Greater New Orleans area.
P.S. When asked if any young female scientists in New Orleans have approached the ladies about cosmetic or product development internships, Niala answered not yet. High school and college students, if you’re interested in cosmetic chemistry and makeup development and would like the opportunity to learn the science behind creating makeup, this may be your chance!
For more information on Magnolia Makeup, visit their website, www.magnolia-makeup.com, Facebook and Twitter pages. Magnolia Makeup just opened their first store front at 612 Julia St. You can also purchase products on their website or at Voluptuous Vixen, 818 Chartres Street.