- Jackie Aina is a beauty YouTuber and influencer with millions of followers across social media platforms.
- She's best known for creating change in the multi-billion dollar industry, as she consistently calls for beauty brands to work towards diversity and inclusion.
- Aina told Insider that "the beauty" of her career is that it's been "full of unexpected twists and turns."
- She also said she's excited to continue running her lifestyle brand FORVR Mood, and that she hopes to see more grace and balance in the world over the next decade.
- Aina is on Insider's list of Luminaries: 25 women pushing boundaries and accomplishing extraordinary feats. Check out the full list here.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Jackie Aina's path in life has been nonlinear. Just ask Aina herself.
She first created her YouTube channel in 2009 while living in Hawaii and serving in the military reserves. At the time, she shared simple makeup tutorials, and had a small group of dedicated fans. Now, her channel has more than 3.5 million subscribers who tune in weekly to experience Aina's outgoing personality and knowledge of all things beauty.
But her career reaches far beyond YouTube. In recent years, Aina has collaborated with some of the biggest beauty brands in the world to advocate for diversity within the industry. She also ventured into the lifestyle category this year, launching FORVR Mood, which sells a range of home products.
"My career is full of unexpected twists and turns," Aina told Insider. "But to be honest with you, I feel like that's been the beauty of it. I've always been ready to take on a challenge, and I'm always ready to take risks."
Jackie Aina got her start working at a MAC Cosmetics makeup counter
Aina was born in California's San Gabriel Valley, where she grew up with three brothers and three sisters. She recalled "growing up with nothing" and told BuzzFeed News she had lived in shelters with her mother and siblings on three different occasions.
Even in those early years, Aina had her sights set on beauty and style. She said fashion was "her first love," and that she often wore clothes sewed by her mother. She also said she would apply makeup to her siblings at the time.
She attended California State University San Bernardino for two years to study medicine, but eventually decided that a medical career wasn't for her. She enrolled in the army instead, and discovered her knack for makeup while stationed in Hawaii.
Before jumping into the YouTube scene, however, Aina took a job with MAC Cosmetics, selling makeup behind one of the brand's counters. At the time, according to Entrepreneur, Aina was repeatedly told by other beauty workers that "the trends she wanted to try wouldn't work for her complexion."
The latter led her to take her passion to YouTube, where she could share her interests and favorite trends with those who would appreciate and understand them.
Now, the YouTuber is a force for change within the multi-billion dollar beauty industry
On August 14, 2009, the now 33-year-old posted her first YouTube video. It was titled Electric Purple Smokey Eye, and barely featured Aina at all. Instead, it played like a slideshow, alternating between grainy photos of makeup and text descriptions that explained how to achieve an eye-shadow look. Nearly ten years to the day after that first vlog, Aina's career came full circle: she announced her collaboration eye-shadow palette with Too Faced.
But it's her advocacy for diversity within the multi-billion dollar beauty industry that has made waves. In January 2018, Aina won the first YouTuber of the Year trophy at the NAACP's annual Image Awards. The award celebrated her work on YouTube, where she advocates for people of color, shares techniques for a wide variety of skin tones, and calls on large companies to make changes towards inclusivity.
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super honored to have been awarded this year’s @naacp Image Award for YouTuber of the year 🙌🏾 thank you so much @google and the @naacpimageawards for this incredible opportunity and reminding each of us that even if just through makeup, we all have the power to encourage social change 💪🏾 #naacpimageawards
Later, she helped address a longstanding problem in the beauty world: the overwhelming paleness of makeup shade ranges. She partnered with Too Faced to expand its foundation line, and helped launch nine different tints in June 2018.
To this day, she continues to fight for change. Most recently, in June, she called on brands like Fashion Nova and Pretty Little Thing to speak up about issues surrounding the Black community. Not only did Aina's plea lead her to speak directly with executives at both brands, but her words also inspired viewers across social media to hold their favorite companies accountable.
Aina is moving into the lifestyle category — and she has the potential to make it big
Aina is now balancing her makeup career with her lifestyle brand, FORVR Mood, which she launched in August.
The company currently sells items like silk headbands and pillowcases, and so far, customers love Aina's four signature candles. But at the end of the day, it's not sales or reviews that Aina is most proud of. Instead, it's her ability to "weather the storm of the unexpected," a skill that's been useful in recent months.
"Starting a business in general is something that poses a lot of challenges, but launching one throughout a pandemic was something we never prepared for," Aina said. "My mom's generation has never even experienced something like this, let alone mine. So just being able to do that and do it successfully has made me so proud."
Even with FORVR Mood as one of her top priorities, beauty is still in Aina's veins
Aina's latest venture is especially smart considering the influx of makeup artists and beauty influencers that have entered in the industry in recent years. But whereas most see an overloaded business, Aina sees never-ending potential.
"People love to say this industry is saturated — and you know what? They're not wrong," Aina said.
Still, she believes that competition isn't a bad thing, and that those pursuing a career in beauty should "never let it discourage you."
"Even though we're all basically doing the same thing, we're all saying it in a different voice," she said. "We're all offering our own individual perspectives, our own takes, our own humor, our own personalities, and those things matter. That's what people are looking for."
After all, some of her biggest inspirations come from the beauty world — particularly Pat McGrath and the late Kevyn Aucoin. Aina specifically admires McGrath's creativity, talent, work ethic, and ability to "stay relevant."
"I feel like she's the epitome of what it means to just really be consistent and be a trendsetter," Aina said of McGrath. "You don't ever hear about her ripping off someone else's work, or her copying somebody else. It's always straight from her, first and foremost. She's incredibly knowledgeable."
Ultimately, Aina dreams of a world with grace and balance
When her makeup comes off and her candles are blown out at the end of the day, Aina isn't much different than the average woman. But according to the influencer, sometimes people online can forget that.
"Content creators are human," Aina said. "We're just trying to figure things out the same way everybody else is. We're just unfortunately going through those things publicly."
"I think it would be nice to just have some grace sometimes," she added. "I often feel like when influencers and digital creators — and especially if you're a Black creator — say something, people will never let you forget it or get over it. People will never give you an opportunity to redeem yourself."
Of course, Aina is proof of how much can change in a decade. Within the next 10 years, she hopes that the internet becomes a more balanced place, both for herself and others.
"The digital world moves really fast and things change very rapidly," she said. "Right now, misinformation is really easy to spread because people are understanding how going viral works."
"I would just like to see a lot of that mellow out — for more normalcy in the digital world, where there isn't this need for instant gratification or clout all the time," she said.
While there's no telling how long it could take to achieve that, there's no doubt that Aina will play a major role in helping the internet — and especially the beauty community — get there.
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