Today profile Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid, the founder and CEO of IMAN cosmetics, a beauty company that created the first cosmetics and skincare collection designed for women of color.

Iman’s first book, titled ‘I AM IMAN’ (Universe, 2001), was an autobiographical sketchbook of her career that questions “the unserious business of fashion and beauty and its serious effect on identity.”

Her second book, THE BEAUTY OF COLOR, The Ultimate Beauty Guide for Skin of Color’ (Putnam Penguin 2005) is the first beauty and makeup book that truly addresses skin tones across the spectrum: Latina, Black, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Native American, as well as multiple ethnicities. She’s revolutionized the way women of color think about beauty.

She’s a true motherland mogul, and we are going back in time to see how she started her journey.

Iman, is a Somali-American fashion model, actress and entrepreneur. She was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, to Marian and Mohamed Abdulmajid. Her father was a diplomat and a former Somali ambassador to Saudi Arabia while her mother was a gynecologist. She was later renamed Iman at her grandfather’s urging.

While still at university, Iman was discovered by American photographer Peter Beard, and subsequently moved to the United States to begin a modelling career. Her first modelling assignment was for Vogue a year later in 1976.

With her long neck, tall stature; slender figure; fine features; copper-toned skin; and exotic accent, Iman was an instant success in the fashion world, though she herself insists that her looks were merely typical Somali. She became a muse for many prominent designers, including HalstonGianni Versace, Calvin KleinIssey Miyake and Donna Karan. She was a favorite of Yves Saint-Laurent, who once described her as his “dream woman”.

After almost two decades of modelling, Iman started her own cosmetics firm in 1994, focusing on difficult-to-find shades for women. Based on her years of experience mixing her own formulations for make-up artists to use on her, she was closely involved with the final product and also acted as the commercial face of the company.

Iman Cosmetics was a US$25-million-a-year business by 2010. It is centered on $14.99 USD foundations in 4 formulations and 14 shades, and is among the top-selling foundation brands on Walgreens website.

Today, her products are sold across the world and the company has an estimated turnover of $25m (£20m) a year.

The IMAN brand philosophy holds that women with skin of color represent many races, cultures and ethnicity. IMAN Cosmetics are designed for African American, Asian, Latina and multi-cultural women with skin tones in a myriad of shades. The brand offers skincare and cosmetics, including 16 foundation shades. IMAN Cosmetics are sold throughout the world including the United States, Canada, UK, France, Africa, and the Caribbean.

In addition to running a global beauty company, Iman is actively involved in several charities, including Save the Children, UNICEF Go – 2 – School Initiative / Somalia, Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, and Hope for Congo.

She most recently celebrated her birthday on the 25th of July, a queen we stan!

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