Kimora Lee Simmons Says Kamala Harris Is 'Absolutely' a Baby Phat Girl
Photo credit: Baby Phat
When I call business woman and cultural icon Kimora Lee Simmons to talk about her new line of beauty, she surprises me with the first question. "How do I say your last name?" she asks before pronouncing it perfectly.
Simmons has been doing this for over 20 years: women with color feel seen and heard. Since starting Baby Phat in 1999, Simmons has celebrated diversity and body positivity long before 15 percent commitments and black squares were made on Instagram.
Her newest company, Baby Phat Beauty, is an addition to the brand's reboot in 2019, but Simmons is no stranger to the beauty industry. "If people remember, we had a very big beauty shop with fragrances - the Golden Goddess, the Seductive Goddess, the Fabulous, Dare Me, Love Me. I also had KLS cosmetics," she says. "It's not something we're new to, and it just seemed like a great time to reintroduce."
This time Simmons got help from her young daughters Ming and Aoki. The trio created the Shimmer Dreams Kit with a high-gloss lip gloss, a moisturizing hand lotion and a body spray. "It's very important to me to always keep an eye on multicultural, ethnic, and colored women," added Simmons. "I'd love to take these young women on my ride. Black beauty and beauty for women with color are important, and it's an important time, so I've been thinking of a better way to jump in with a little kit."
Photo credit: Baby Phat Beauty
Before us, Simmons talks about her new line, Kamala Harris' historic nomination for Vice President, and how the beauty industry can make actionable change.
How was it with your daughters
Ming and Aoki belong to the next generation. Business and lifestyle have changed, especially now in this pandemic. Things are changing online and on social media, so Gen Z, Gen Y and Millennials need to have that voice. Ming and Aoki bring that to the table. Aoki is 18, she goes to Harvard and Ming is 20. It's very important and exciting because the girls grew up in the business, behind the scenes, making clothes, designing things, meeting tables, etc.
What beauty advice did you give your girls?
Simple things like washing your face before going to bed. I think a great concept for our family and also as a brand is that concept of high-low. We love our beauty products and people send us things, and we love to try things, but there are also basic products that can be found everywhere from the dollar stores to drug stores that are also very good. I think the concept of high-low and the idea that you don't have to spend a lot of money to take care of your skin, body, or mind. Self care is essential.
What is a Baby Phat Facebeat?
It's very shiny. It's flirty, fun, sexy, feminine. It's the shine and it shimmers and it's pink. This is our color. It strengthens. I think it's a powerful move. The [Baby Phat Girl] is a multicultural beauty, a multiethnic beauty, a woman of all colors, all sizes and all hair tones and textures. It's something we've been advocating for 20 years.
Your brand has encouraged positive attitudes and diversity in the body from the start. What steps can the industry take to further improve in these areas?
It is a very important time to talk about social justice. Brands will say, "Oh, we cover all shapes and sizes, and all colors and hair types." But when you look back, they don't. A lot of brands have been there for a while and they don't. You can see everything these days, it's very easy to document. So, if we make comments that say we never had anyone on their sites or on their products who looked like us, we know that.
Watch what people do and what they say, and make sure these things go together. This is also part of the next generation beauty idea. We should have [responsibility] from start to finish. [Brands] have to make sure that we have a seat at the table, that we have a voice, that we are properly represented. So I look after people in the beauty and fashion sectors. I always try to give back a little bit of time or things that I have learned.
Who are some black business women who you think are about to kill them?
I love rihanna. I love beyonce. Gabrielle Union does a lot and I love her. [Fenty Beauty] brought out all the hues on the spectrum for all skin tones. To have someone these days it is very important to continue this type of work that we started so long ago. I love that it does, and some [of the products] are probably a bit expensive. It's a little medium priced I would say. I think it's important to be represented in all areas. I like what Iman or Beverly Johnson did. Iman has done a lot in beauty and cosmetics.
A portion of the proceeds from the Shimmer Dreams Kits will be donated to Stacey Abrams Fair Fight Initiative. How did Baby Phat Beauty come about?
In these days leading up to the elections, it is important that we all do our part to activate these young voters (18-35). That is why we want to educate them about voter suppression and prepare them for this experience they step into and help them cast ballots.
The suppression of color voters is a big farce right now. There are people out there trying to take away your voting rights. So we have to keep up with this fight, and we know Stacey Abrams didn't fulfill her offer for the governor, but it was such little margin. She didn't stop. She went on. So we want to get out there and make sure we have rights and are represented.
Will you be following the Vice Presidential debate?
I don't know if you saw it, but Kamala Harris is on the cover of the November issue of ELLE.
I haven't seen that yet! [Kamala] is really exciting. We need more women, we need more people of color. I think she is very powerful at moving that needle and moving this agenda forward.
Is Kamala a Baby Phat Girl?
Absolutely. Hopefully! She represents a fearless struggle for justice for what is right. A certain kind of beauty. We want to push this agenda forward. So absolutely. I would say that she is a strong advocate and is absolutely a baby phat girl. That's it.
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