Pound Cake Cosmetics Attempts to Redefine the Standard of Beauty
We had the pleasure of speaking with Temple University alum, Camille Bell about her cosmetic line, Pound Cake, and the events that led up to her creating it. Pound Cake is a cosmetic line tailored towards and advertised by all genders and races. Pound Cake is a start-up company that's destined to make revolutionary strides. Read up on her inspiring story!
KM: So tell me about yourself.
CB: About myself? I’m someone who really enjoys makeup and cosmetics. When people look at me, depending on your way of thinking, they assume that those who wear makeup have something to cover up or you’re insecure. For me, that was never the case. Actually, I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I got to college. I never really wore makeup often, I found it a way to express myself and it was very therapeutic. I would watch vlogs online. My senior year at Temple, I saw there was an opportunity to take a theater makeup class. Looking back at it, I’ve gotten a lot better and I would do some of my friends’ makeup too. But, one of the things that is important to me, is colorism. I didn’t experience it until I came to Temple. I obviously experience racism and colorism is a part of racism, but I went to an all-white school so it didn’t matter how light I was. I was black. My sister and I were even called the “N-word.” We ended up moving from Morgantown, PA to Downingtown, PA. Until I got to Temple, I never heard of light skin or dark skin. You were just black. Sadly, I didn’t experience colorism until I was around black people, I was like “whoa this is crazy.” It became very important to me because it disgusted me.
KM: It’s so many layers to colorism
CB: It’s so many layers. It’s a form of self-hate. I was speaking to Yabba earlier about colorism and Beyoncé came up. It was around the time [Beyoncé] dropped her pregnancy photos. We were talking about her constantly wearing the long blond hair. So, I talked to Yabba about that and she didn’t necessarily confirm or deny if that was a form of self-hate, but what she said was that a lot of people like to call out others for exemplifying self-hate without realizing the way we show self-hate. She’s brought up points that I didn’t even realize. For example, what we decide to name our children. So naming them Henry or Patrick. Is that not playing into European standards? I was like “damn, I didn’t even think about it like that.” Yabba then mentioned that everyone was against Azealia Banks for bleaching her skin, but there’s no difference between her bleaching her skin and wearing blond weave.
KM: But the thing about blond hair is that it’s not exclusive to white people. For example, the indigenous people of Australia naturally have dark skin and blond hair. Like, blond is not just for European people.
CB: Yeah, that’s the thing. I was talking to my boyfriend about that and he’s constantly challenging me. He and my friend will always argue about that topic and his viewpoint is while that is true, some black people naturally have blond hair, that’s not the norm you see in America. Where do you see those standards? You see them from white women. He’s like you should think about it like that. I’m sure Beyoncé wasn’t googling indigenous people and got influenced to wear blond hair, it was because of the industry she’s in and the people’s she’s around. But, in general, when I was talking to Yabba about this, she told me the different ways of self-hate. It shows in the way we speak and articulate. So, just to go back to what’s important to me, I do enjoy cosmetics and I try to educate myself about colorism. It’s very sickening because when you look at hip hop music videos and pay attention to their love interests, it’s always a white woman. Like what message are you sending?
KM: It even shows in some West African music videos. You can see the transition from nothing but black women to love interests being non-African women, but would have the physical characteristics of black women.
CB: Wow, really? Even for Tyga, he traveled to Jamaica for one of his music videos, but used majority white women. How do you go to Jamaica and use just white women in your video?
KM: That’s why I created this magazine. People constantly take and take from black women, but exclude us in the industry. But when we try to speak up about it, we’re bitter or angry.
CB: I see colorism played out more with black men. Of course, I would see that with women as well, but I see it predominantly with black men. Referring back to my conversation with Yabba, when these black men only date white (or non-black) women, that’s a form of self-hate. She was like, “I don’t how you don’t love someone who looks like yourself." It’s like you don’t like yourself or your mother. Then we consider how these black boys are raised by their moms for them to develop such a distaste for black women. I don’t want to rule that out and I’ve been reading on that. I think that’s immature, though. I don’t have a great relationship with my father, but I don’t correlate that with dating life. I don’t know, maybe it’s harder for other people.
KM: Yeah, but some people don’t even realize their projection. Like, when they say “I only date light skin people” or even Young Burg once said “if her hair don’t look the same from when she come out the pool, then I don’t want her”
CB: He also said something else problematic. He said “I’m kind of racist myself, I only like light skin women.” I read that in 9th grade.
KM: I remember that. He was saying very degrading things about dark skin women and people say these things and chalk it as “oh it’s my preference.”
CB: No, it’s not. It’s racist.
KM: If you think about it, why is that your preference?
CB: Okay, let’s say that it’s your preference. It’s not, but let’s pretend. Do you consider why that is your preference? So going back to Pound Cake, I love makeup and I want to be a company that encompasses all types of beauty that's not just phenotypic. Actually, to discuss phenotype, there are major companies that feature black women, but with European features. They rarely feature anyone with a wide nose. But because she’s black, she’s an exception. So what I try to do is feature black women in all forms. We have different skin types, various undertones; red, yellow, and olive. And we have different lip tones. So, we’re trying to come up with a really good makeup formula to meet these needs. We’re starting with five different matte lipsticks that can coincide with different skin tones. Right now, people say that dark skin black women can’t wear red lipstick. So I really want to hone into creating really good products starting with those five colors then expanding to other products. I also want to be a brand that’s not afraid to talk about the social issues going on. Like, combatting the current status of beauty. Fuck your standards. We’re also trying to talk about social issues like transphobia, which is an issue that is not heavily talked about. We will be featuring people of all races and genders.
KM: It’s really interesting that you are using transpeople as models because our society currently refuses to identify a transwoman as a woman. It’s like faulty wiring that people have and they can’t unlearn their prejudice ways.
CB: So my second youngest brother is finishing his freshman year of college. He’s half white and half black and goes to an all white school. He has predominantly white friends, but I want to make sure he’s still in tune with his culture. So, we would have check-ins and one time we had a conversation on transphobia and there are things he’s overcoming, trying to understand and process. It’s not as simple, but it should be as simple as if a person is telling you how they want to be addressed, then address them that way.
So, we’re taking in account different types of people.
KM: What led you to create a makeup brand and how did you come up with the name?
CB: The name has a couple of different meanings. We see “cake” as a part of the cosmetic industry. It’s not inclusive and not true to representation so we want to pound that. Also, we’re offering a new type of cake, pound cake. When you think of cake, people automatically think of vanilla or chocolate, but rarely do they think of pound cake. Also, in the 60s, they referred to makeup as pancake and as a revolutionary name, we came up with pound cake. So it has a few different meanings.
In terms of how this brand came about, when I graduated in May, I was getting [job] offers, but didn’t really accept them because I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I went to the FOX School of Business, but had to transfer out because it was too expensive. I still kept a business minor and with that and being in a business-oriented organization, I had drive. I didn’t want to work for someone else. I spoke to my advisor from Temple Student Government and he told me if I wanted to start a business so bad, why don’t I speak with Temple Blackatone Launch Pad? It’s an incubator they recently created for entrepreneurs. So I slept on it for a few months and worked as a social media consultant for the Community College of Philadelphia and by August they asked me to come on full-time as a marketing specialist. I accepted the offer, but at that time I knew I wanted to be a business owner. I would go to Sephora and swatch makeup products and I would have difficulty finding a makeup product that fit my skin perfectly. It was annoying. So with all of these things combined I utilized my resources at Temple and visited the Temple Launch Pad. And that’s how everything came about.
KM: What are your future goals 5-10 years from now?
CB: I definitely want Pound Cake underway. I want my videos to be fairly huge. I want them to have a bigger reach, I want to expand. I think, now, people want to see authenticity in a brand. I think by asking people their thoughts on these social issues will help to have more eyes on us. And we will be better educated on these issues. So it’s a way to stay involved in my community.
I also want to expand in other cosmetic products. Right now, we’re focusing on lipstick, but in the future, I want to expand to like foundation and focus on various undertones.
In 10 years, I want Pound Cake to be a corporation and employ people. I want to help a lot of people and build an empire. Right now, we’re just cosmetics, but that’s why I’m building on a social activism side. I want to change our domain name to just poundcake.com instead of poundcakecosmetics.com so it won’t limit our service. I don’t see Pound Cake just being for cosmetics.
KM: Do you see yourself having your own store? Like Sephora?
CB: Yes! I definitely plan for that and to even have stores overseas.
KM: Have you looked into the process of having your own store? Is it more beneficial to stick to online?
CB: We’ve written that in our business plan, but I’ve wanted to plan to have pop-up shops. For pop up shops, you can take over someone’s store or you can have a truck. So I wanted to have a truck in the south and show up on an HBCU campus to see how we do there. That’ll help us figure out logistics for when we’re ready to open a store.
KM: What’s one thing that you feel is necessary for people to know about you?
CB: Necessary? I’m Liberian, and I’m a fighter. I’m very determined and that’s how I’m bred. I don’t give up at all. That pertains to my work ethic. I’m juggling a full-time job, but Pound Cake is my dream so I’ll stay up until 1 am and work 80 hours a week to one day to just to focus on my brand.
Watch the #PoundCake Series Below: