Camille Bell always dreamt of winning an award for her cosmetics, but never imagined receiving one before officially launching her products.
When Allure told Bell that her company had won Allure’s Best of Beauty award 15 days before their launch and would be featured in their October issue, she was ecstatic.
“We were crying and so thrilled, and so grateful and just very humbled,” said Camile Bell, founder and CEO of Pound Cake Cosmetics.
Bell, a 2015 public relations, applied communication and advertising alumna, launched Pound Cake Cosmetics, a fully virtual pro-black, pro-fat, pro-queer cosmetics company that rejects universal shades by attempting to set a new standard for beauty in the makeup industry through their cosmetics, on Sept. 30. The company sells liquid lipsticks formulated to fit various skin and lip tones.
Pound Cake was selected out of 10,000 entries as one of Allure’s Best of Beauty award winners and debuted in their October issue.
Bell planned to launch Pound Cake in October 2020, but ran into a manufacturing issue and had to find a new lab to mass produce their products, she said.
On Sept. 30, they officially released their products to the public for purchase and sold out within 48 hours.
In summer 2020, Pound Cake received a $10,000 beauty grant from Glossier, a black-owned cosmetics company, to help fund their business. After learning about Pound Cake, people at Gossier encouraged Bell to apply for Allure’s Best of Beauty Award, despite their products not yet being officially launched, Bell said.
Customers, like Nafisa Rawji, are impressed with the amount of effort and dedication Bell put into Pound Cake’s products.
Rawji went to school with Bell and learned about her products through social media.
“It was clear that [Bell] is actually working on the formula and is very specific on making sure it’s good quality and that it works for women of all different colors,” said Rawji, a 2015 marketing alumna.
Bell’s parents and high school did not allow her to wear makeup, but she was always fascinated by it. So the moment her father dropped her off at White Hall to start her freshman year of college in 2011, Bell ran to the nearest Rite Aid and bought as much makeup as she could carry back to her dorm room, she said.
She spent her time at Temple learning and perfecting new makeup looks and expanded her skills after enrolling in the Theatrical Makeup course her senior year.
“I learned how to do stage makeup, how to make yourself look older with wrinkles, how to do a lot of things, like make bruises on your face, and it made me fall so in love with makeup, even more,” Bell said.
After graduating in 2015, Bell began purchasing more expensive makeup products and noticed many foundations and makeup shades did not blend well with darker skin complexions, like hers, she said.
“I remember going to Sephora and trying on a blush,” Bell said. “When I went to swatch it on my hand, the color just completely dissipated into my skin.”
Bell reached out to her friends and makeup users of similar complexions to hers and learned they too had trouble finding makeup that blended with their skin tones, she said.
This inspired her to return to Temple and create a makeup brand suitable for individuals of all complexions through Blackstone LaunchPad, a free resource at Temple that provides support, coaching and events for students, alumni, faculty and staff seeking to launch a business or product.
While Bell was determined to start a business, she did not know how, so Julie Stapleton Carroll, Blackstone’s program director, encouraged Bell to attend beauty events and start market research to learn more about what specifically she needed to focus her brand and formula on, Bell said.
“She was determined to find the right formula and wasn’t willing to settle for whatever somebody gave her,” Carroll said.
While attending beauty events, Bell spoke with many Black and Brown women, asking if they were also struggling to find makeup shades that matched their skin tones, and almost all said “yes,” Bell said.
Although Bell had a good understanding of how she wanted to create beauty products for those with darker complexions, she struggled to find the right formula and prototype for nearly six years, she said.
Bell competed in many product-based competitions over the years that helped her figure out how to create products and jump start her business, she said.
In 2017, Bell joined an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, a company that supports entrepreneurs and new technology in the earliest stages of development. They raised more than $20,000 and used it to open a cosmetic lab in 2018 to start formulating liquid lipsticks, Bell said.
Carroll admires all of Bell’s hard work during the last six years and feels this award is well deserved, she said.
“I really admire [Bell’s] persistence through a lot of ups and downs and pivots,” Carroll said.
Winning the award was a dream come true for Bell and she is grateful for all of the support she received in launching this business.
“To me, it’s like winning a Grammy Award in the makeup industry,” Bell said.