After more than a decade of taking off her makeup on television to reveal red rosacea on her cheeks, Jamie Kern Lima has become synonymous with her problem-solving beauty line, IT Cosmetics.
But she and her husband Paulo have decided to move on from the company they founded together 11 years ago. Before starting a cosmetics company, Kern Lima was a morning news anchor struggling to find the right makeup products to wear for television.
Kern Lima left the TV station in 2008, and the couple began bootstrapping in their Los Angeles living room. It started to catch on once Kern Lima went on shopping networks and pitched the product on live air. IT Cosmetics is the top-sold beauty brand on QVC today.
“The time has come to step into an exciting new professional and personal chapter ahead. I believe part of my calling on this earth is to inspire women and empower women everywhere to transform their self-confidence and learn truly to believe in themselves,” she wrote in a letter posted on Instagram.
Kern Lima is a clear success story of the recent beauty boom. L’Oreal acquired IT Cosmetics for $1.2 billion in cash in August 2016, the French conglomerate’s biggest acquisition in eight years. Kern Lima pocketed $410 million from the sale and became the first female CEO of one of its brands in L’Oreal’s 100-plus-year history. (While she is the only one with the CEO title, 66% of its brands are led by women who have the title of global brand president. Kern Lima kept the title when the company was purchased.) She and her husband, who is co-CEO, signed a three-year contract at the time of the deal that expires at the end of this month.
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In 2017, Forbes profiled Kern Lima, who was crowned Miss Washington USA in 1999 and did a stint on the first season of reality show Big Brother. She debuted on Forbes’ list of the Richest Self-Made Women that year at No. 41, thanks to the proceeds she got from the sale. She has since invested in more than a dozen women-led businesses. The couple had their first child last year, after struggling with infertility. Forbes currently estimates her net worth at $440 million.
Under L’Oreal, IT Cosmetics has doubled in size and become the second-largest luxury makeup brand in the U.S., according to the company, with more than 300 products and distribution in nearly 20 other countries.
“I will forever remain in my role as IT Cosmetics’ greatest champion,” Kern Lima said in her farewell letter.