Skip navigation

Beyond beauty: Jenn Harper takes cosmetics to the next level

It was in 2015 that Jenn Harper founded Cheekbone Beauty, the very first Indigenous cosmetics company. Like the products she sells, Jenn is bold, vibrant and colourful. She has taken her company from success to repeated success – and now she’s ready to take Cheekbone Beauty to the next level. As her financial partner, BMO will be at Jenn’s side at every step along the way. 

Since founding Cheekbone Beauty eight years ago, Jenn has built the business rapidly. Her company’s beauty products are featured in more than 50 Sephora stores across Canada. JCPenney, one of the largest fashion retailers in the U.S., has also begun selling Cheekbone products. Jenn’s goal is ambitious: to increase revenues ten-fold.  

But more important to Jenn is keeping her company true to her Anishinaabe values. In an industry often criticized for wasteful packaging, Cheekbone Beauty is a certified “B Corp” – one of approximately 6,000 companies worldwide that seeks not only profit, but to make the world a better place by stressing sustainability and ethical business practices.  

“Business can be done for good, and I fully believe that. That’s why we built in line with the B Corp value system.”  

– Jenn Harper
Founder and CEO, Cheekbone Beauty 

Her company spends a lot on research and development, having gone as far as to build a proprietary laboratory to develop environmentally friendly new products and sustainable packaging.  

“Hiring scientists to help us work on these things, along with incorporating Indigenous wisdom into our work, is what separates us not only from other beauty brands, but all brands,” Jenn says.  

The success of Cheekbone Beauty means even more to the people who are following her journey.  

“I call our brand a seed for next generations of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” Jenn says, “because if they see that someone can do and build something like this, who comes from a community like they do, I believe it will inspire them to believe in the power of entrepreneurship and its ability to change our communities in drastic ways.”  

She recounts a recent meeting at a Sephora store with a young Anishinaabe girl “whose confidence about who she was and where she came from was at a level nothing like what I had when I was younger,” says Jenn. “And I thought in that moment: ‘Wow, they’re so much further ahead!’” 

Driving home from that meeting, Jenn reflected on the power of the encounter and why Indigenous representation truly matters.  

“She had so much confidence and now she just met a woman who’s Anishinaabe like her who’s built a successful company! So, that young girl will now never think she couldn’t be anything she wants to be. The sky’s the limit for her, because she sees someone like her doing something that is of value.” 

– Jenn Harper
Founder and CEO, Cheekbone Beauty 

BMO’s commitment to Indigenous communities 

For over 30 years, BMO’s Indigenous Banking Unit (IBU) has been working with Indigenous communities to support their economic self-determination. Through a network of branches and business banking offices both on and off reserve, BMO offers financial products and services, including housing and renovation financing, trust services, investment management solutions, and long-term financing for on-reserve infrastructure and economic development. In addition, BMO has partnered with First Nations University of Canada to create the e-learning course Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ, An Introduction to Understanding Indigenous Perspectives in Canada, which is available to all for free. 

For more information on BMO’s commitment to progress for Indigenous Peoples, explore Wîcihitowin ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑐᐏᐣ, the BMO Indigenous Partnerships and Progress Report. 

Related Insights