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Pound Cake Cosmetics co-founders Camille Bell and Johnny Velazquez. Photo Credit: Khanya Brann/The Temple News
Pound Cake Cosmetics co-founders Camille Bell and Johnny Velazquez. Photo Credit: Khanya Brann/The Temple News

Temple University Alumni create inclusive makeup brand

Instead of making one shade for everyone, the company is tailoring its products to fit the consumer.

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After four years of product perfecting and unfortunate setbacks, Pound Cake Cosmetics was finally able to launch on Sept. 30, 2021. The long road paid off almost immediately when all of their stock sold out in less than 48 hours. 

The brand got its start at the founders’ alma mater Temple University. Camille Bell and Johnny Velazquez both graduated from the Klein College of Media and Communication in 2015 and 2018, respectively. 

Bell first came up with the idea for Pound Cake Cosmetics as a freshman. After not being able to wear makeup until college, she was eager to try it out. She was soon disappointed to learn how limited the makeup options were for people of color. So, she decided to change that. 

In 2015, she entered Temple’s Innovative Idea Competition and asked Velazquez to create an animation to go along with her pitch. She won the global initiative award at this competition and became business partners with Velazquez. In 2017, they launched an Indiegogo campaign that raised $20,000 for product development. 

The brand had some setbacks starting in 2018. They switched production labs which messed with production time. This in turn led to the launch date being pushed back twice. They set their new launch date for October 2020. But then the pandemic hit and their lab shut down in early May. Then in September 2020, their lab dropped the brand as a client. 

They were able to bounce back from this setback quickly, however. 

In the same month, they were awarded $10,000 from Glossier as part of their Grant Initiative for Black-Owned Beauty Businesses. This allowed them to start working with a lab from New Jersey to get production back on track. 

About two weeks before its launch in 2021, Pound Cake was awarded the Allure Best in Beauty Award for classic red lipstick. 

Changing the game on lipstick and the industry

Generally speaking, most brands don’t make lipsticks with how they will look on different skin tones in mind, much less how they will appear on different lip tones. So Pound Cake making lipsticks that work with five lip tones (deep brown, brown, light brown, dark pink, and pink), is a first. 

The meaning behind the brand’s name is much deeper than one might assume. As explained on its website, it is a statement rather than a noun. The “pound” refers to pounding or smashing and the “cake” refers to pancake foundation. This was a style of foundation that was created and popular in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Together it becomes a statement on smashing the old ideals of the makeup industry. Combined with the statement, “We are a pro-black, pro-fat, and pro-queer cosmetics company and will continue to act in a manner that reflects as such,” it becomes clear that the brand’s goal is to uplift communities that have been historically marginalized by the makeup industry.  

That’s a goal that’s even sweeter than the dessert they share a name with. 

 

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