Inspired by the city she called home for a decade, Dorian Smith-Garcia launched “The New York Powders” as a new capsule collection for her brand Kawaii Girl Cosmetics. These 11 multi-purpose powders are named after Dorian’s favorite places in the city she loves.
Kawaii Girl Cosmetics is a Black-owned, woman- owned, small batch, cruelty free company that began in 2017. Each Kawaii Girl Cosmetics collection is inspired by the places that influenced the woman that Dorian has become. The first collection Dorian debuted was Tokyo Lashes, which features ten different false lashes to suit everyone.
BELLA was able to talk to Dorian about her company and the products she offers…
How did you get started in the cosmetics industry?
I originally launched Kawaii Girl Cosmetics (KGC) in 2017. I had worked with various makeup and skincare brands as an influencer and after initially feeling like I could never find the perfect pair of strip lashes that were fluffy yet dramatic and easy to apply, I decided I could do better on my own. So, I created the Tokyo Lashes, a 10-piece collection of bold eyelash styles. In late 2019 I wanted to focus on launching color cosmetics and initially had plans to travel abroad in early 2020 to meet with factories.
With the coronavirus, my travel plans were cut short but I didn’t want to delay the collection launch. So, I decided to focus on making those color cosmetics rather than outsourcing production. The New York Powders launched in Fall 2020. While it’s definitely more work to create makeup in a small-batch handcrafted method, I like that I have more control over the ingredients. Especially because KGC is a Leaping Bunny-certified brand, it’s important that I can confirm all of the ingredients for The New York Powders are ethically sourced and that they’re vegan-friendly. Plus, I was able to fully control the entire supply chain and guarantee that it was entirely based in the United States.
What is your favorite thing about your company?
One of my favorite things is that I’m creating a company and watching it grow with the goal of building a legacy I can pass on to my daughter (who’s currently a toddler and only understands that mommy likes makeup!).
But my other favorite thing is the purpose and meaning behind the brand name. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “why ‘kawaii?” And I get it — I’m a Black woman with a beauty brand featuring a Japanese name. In addition to being a massive Japanophile, I wanted to create a brand that defied stereotypes. While I created KGC to be an inclusive brand for anyone who’s a makeup lover, I — like many Black women — am directly impacted by negative stereotypes lobbed at Black women as angry, unattractive, or hypersexual.
In Japanese, “kawaii” means cute or pretty and I gravitated towards the word because I dislike that often Black women are limited to unflattering portrayals. I love the idea of having the freedom to embrace all emotions and emulations and defining your persona on your own terms rather than society’s one-dimensional tropes.
Your collections are named after places that influenced the woman you are today. Is there one place in particular that means the most to you?
So, each collection in KGC is named after a city with specific significance for me. With the Tokyo Lashes each of the 10 lashes is named after a district in Tokyo while The New York Powders are named after neighborhoods across the five boroughs of New York, a city where I lived for a decade.
Hands down, Tokyo is my favorite city! I first traveled to Tokyo in 2008 for vacation. Then a year later I returned for business and have gone back regularly since then for both business and pleasure — including my wedding in 2014. Every time I travel to Japan it’s like I get refreshed both mentally and physically, so whenever possible I try to visit!
I am sure it’s hard to pick, but do you have a favorite shade from The New York Powders Collection?
Williamsbridge is actually one of my favorite colors – and not just because I used to live in that neighborhood in the Bronx! Willamsbridge is a rich copper hue that I normally rock as a highlighter because it’s such a warm hue that’s complimentary on a wide range of skin tones, but definitely darker skin tones with warm undertones like mine.
What can you tell readers of BELLA about these powders?
The New York Powders are a vegan-friendly, cruelty-free collection of multi-faceted shimmer powders. All of them are designed so that you can create the perfect look, in so many ways. The powders are designed to work as highlighters, blush, eye shadow, or even as a lip topper. There’s so much you can do with them, it’s just a matter of your imagination. They can also be applied with brushes, sponges, or even your fingers. And a damp sponge or brush will give you a bolder effect if you prefer.
Is there anything else our readers should know about you or your company?
One of my biggest goals with KGC was to create collections that allowed people to enhance their beauty rather than cover it up. We’re always focusing on innovating and creating quality beauty products that are designed to make beauty more accessible while offering longevity. Our lashes can be worn for up to 20 times with proper care while The New York Powders are multifunctional color cosmetics. Makeup isn’t a gatekeeper. It’s all about creativity, self-expression, and most importantly — having fun! And KGC will always be here to remind people of this truth!
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