Cashmere Nicole (courtesy of Beauty Bakerie)

Beauty Bakerie founder and CEO Cashmere Nicole knows about staying power. She’s built a successful and evolving brand that started on the strength of one product: her best-selling “Lip Whip.” Famed for smudge-free saturation in no fewer than 45 shades (and counting), the day-to-night finish is vegan, nontoxic and 100 percent cruelty-free ... and so tough to budge that it requires its own remover.

According to Cashmere Nicole, it was a formula built out of necessity:

I think Beauty Bakerie introduced a lifestyle change; a complete makeover or face-lift to how the makeup-application process works, and how we should approach that overall. Putting on makeup is exhausting—I think we just need to be real. ...

And then, you want to pile on the layer of being a parent, or the layers of the 9-to-5, or all of the other different obligations that we have as individuals ... And I think that was a big component to me: How do I make this easier for myself? How can I make it through my day without having to be completely flatlined by the makeup-application process?

It was an instinct that paid off. In six short years, the CEO has guided the brand from a solo venture to a staff of 30, and from lips to full-face glamour. Her Flour setting powders offer the same all-day dependability as her lip colors, and a line of concealers are on deck for 2018. Meanwhile, her eye shadow palettes fly off the shelves of both her online and San Diego Beauty Bakerie boutiques—especially her “Coffee & Cocoa” palette, created for her teenage daughter and emblazoned with her personal and professional motto: “Better, not bitter.”

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Though successful, the past six years have been bittersweet for Cashmere Nicole. Soon after launching Beauty Bakerie in 2011 at the age of 27, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, a recurring prognosis that would eventually require a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Now 33, she remains optimistic and forward-thinking:

You know, I often tell people that I’m living in my afterlife, after just going through maybe 10 years of feeling as though a lot of things weren’t working out the way that I would want them to; just setback after setback. So, I think in that process you become a bit conditioned to say, “I’ve got to expect the worst but hope for the best.” And in hindsight, I don’t particularly like that way of thinking. It worked for me at that time, but after going through a life-changing experience with cancer and looking back now, I would say that it’s just better to focus on the things that are working for you—the things that you know you can do for sure—and do away with things that you can’t change.

And she’s definitely changing the makeup game. In her own evolution from a teenage mother putting herself through nursing school to socking away every spare dollar to start Beauty Bakerie, and recently garnering a $3 million seed investment from Unilever Ventures, Cashmere Nicole is redefining what a beauty mogul looks like. And while she’s a self-confessed “serial entrepreneur from the age of 12,” she admits that she’s learning as she grows her business:

I think I am pretty tough, just based on feedback from some of the people around me, but sometimes I even question that. So, I think you have to have a delicate balance of knowing when to be sugar and when to be shit, a little. And I think I’m still learning how to balance both of them; and [that’s] the tough part about being a CEO.

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With pending expansion into retailers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Beauty Bakerie’s growing international presence on home-shopping giant QVC, and a daughter heading off to college soon, it looks like Nicole’s balancing act is going to get quite a workout. But she’s more than up to the challenge:

You know, walking out of a doctor’s office and being told you have cancer; you can cry, but what do you do? Go dig a grave for yourself and lay in it? I mean, you have to keep going; and that applies to everything. ...

My best advice for staying power is that when the whole world and all of your friends might tell you that the easiest thing is to turn around and go back, you should do the exact opposite. You should keep going forward, because in that walk and in that journey of staying, you do become powerful, and you become stronger. And you will fall, and you will hurt yourself, and you will cry. But as long as you get back up and keep going, that is where you’ll be made.

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