How Aishetu Fatima Dozie Became the Change She Wanted to See in the Beauty Industry.
By Johanna Ferreira
After working for several years as an investment banker and finance executive, Aishetu Fatima Dozie never imagined that her next career move would be starting a global beauty brand. But upon being diagnosed with severe hypertension and feeling completely burned out, Dozie was ready for a change. She took a one-year sabbatical from work, moved to California, and was inspired to create a beauty brand that “cared about how women felt starting from the inside and moving outward.”
Dozie who self-describes herself as a lipstick junkie, has always worn lipstick as a form of empowerment, which ultimately became the impetus to start her brand, Bossy Cosmetics.
“I didn’t see a single beauty company that was targeting me — an ambitious woman whose makeup choices are largely driven by how I feel and how I want to project myself in the workplace.”
“I felt like other brands focused only on how you look and I wanted to see a brand that focused more on the entire being of a woman who is managing multiple streams in their life, yet still getting up to hustle and level up. I felt frustrated by that and I thought that I could be the change that I wanted to see in the industry. Beautifully made cosmetics alongside a promise to elevate and amplify ambition in today’s modern woman.”
Dozie’s beauty philosophy is rooted in women beautifying themselves in a way that feels authentic to them, versus following the rules or “standards” that have been pushed on us for centuries. “I generally don’t wear foundation and that’s because I have spent my life focused on caring for my skin. As a woman in my 40s, it is my primary focus. If I wear foundation, it’s a special occasion. I want to look like myself and I am bold, powerful, and beautiful,” she says. “I wear lipstick that matches that internal feeling and I usually will have on eyeliner to accentuate my eyes. I love playing with color on my eyes and my lips. My philosophy though, is that folks should do what they are comfortable doing. Every time, I’ve wanted to try to be someone that I am not or copy an influencer’s makeup routine, I end up looking like a clown. I know what suits me and I love to keep it simple.”
Dozie describes Bossy Cosmetics as a women’s empowerment and mission-driven business that masquerades as a beauty company. The brand includes a wide collection of offerings from the Bossy Glosses (tinted lip glosses that come in a variety of shades), the Liquid Matte Genius Lipsticks, Power Woman Essentials Bullets, Power Woman Essentials Eyeshadows Palettes, Power Woman Essentials Liquid Lipsticks, and the Velvet Lip Liners. The products were all created with the intention of leaving women feeling like their best and most confident selves.
Get to Know – Aishetu Fatima Dozie
Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
I am originally from the North Central region of Nigeria, which is based in West Africa although I was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Nigerian parents. I am a first generation American and everything that comes along with that. Technically, I am a multi-tribal Nigerian, as my parents are both from different tribes but let’s not complicate things. I live in Palo Alto, California with my husband and three sons. We moved out here three years ago from Lagos, Nigeria for me to attend a fellowship at Stanford University. I love it in Northern California and I don’t think I’ll ever leave.
What were some of your first memories of beauty growing up? What are some early beauty influencers?
Definitely my mother. She is really a beauty. When I was a little girl (I was an only child until I was 12), I thought she was a beauty queen. She wore the most beautiful outfits and highest heels. Her hat collection was dazzling! I thought she was a vision. She worked at Neiman Marcus as a sales girl while she was getting her master’s degree, so she was able to get pricey gowns for free. She wore bright pink or red lipsticks and was always dazzling to watch dress up. At some point, she was a fashion designer too. I loved watching her create outfits and I wanted to be as beautiful and creative as her. My grandmother was also a big influencer but in a different way. Her idea of beauty was a face full of talcum powder. She was a powerhouse and was incredibly well respected in the family and in the community. She ran a savings and loan cooperative for the market women in Benin city. She was all about women’s empowerment although we didn’t use those terms back then. I knew from her that women should own their own things and not rely on men to survive especially financially. She was big on family remaining close and connected and so through her, I understood the role of the matriarch and how important it is in bringing people together. I spent a few summer holidays with her and I miss those days. I miss her immensely.
What does self-care look like in your life?
Lying in bed and watching TV! I used to find calm in reading a good book but the pandemic hit me terribly from a mental and emotional standpoint. I can’t focus very well on reading. Sometimes I think I am still recovering and going through PTSD. Resting in the sun with my kids running around, is also a beautiful moment for me. I feel so at peace when I’m outdoors in a vast plain or by the beach watching the waves crashing and hearing my kids giggling. Again, it’s the simple delights that I treasure the most.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
I like that the barriers to entry are so lower otherwise, how would I have gotten in the doors? I kid but not really. I like to see how brands are really redefining the way the industry looks and creates. I like that we are are shaking up the way iconic houses previously did things and we are putting the power back into the consumers hands. We create what they want and not the other way around. I see so much creativity in the industry and it’s amazing and intimidating too. I love that you can have an idea and go about testing it with people and they will quickly tell you whether you’re nuts or not. I love the enthusiasm in consumers and how strangers find you on social media and become your biggest supporter. It feels like such a privilege to do what you love and enjoy it so deeply. I’m inspired most by my customers and their stories. I am floored that people use our products and return to buy more. I am inspired by what they do in their daily lives and how we make them feel while they accomplish their goals. I love seeing real women open up about their challenges and creating a space for one another to thrive and soar together.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Where do I start? I would say the two hardest things is not having the capital that I need to accomplish everything that I’d love to accomplish and being so lonely all the time. The lack of capital is hard; it forces you to be disciplined. It’s still really hard and you get crestfallen when you hear about other people’s massive capital raises but I am determined to focus and look straight ahead.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Without a doubt, the biggest win has been the growing number of customers that we’ve won over. There is nothing more beautiful than someone who hears about us from a friend and buys our products and becomes an evangelist too. To think that I could create something from nothing and begin to harness a community that believes that beauty companies can and should be deeper than your looks is the most affirming work I’ve done over the last two years.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
My biggest pet peeve is this notion that because I am a Black woman, a woman of color, my products are only for Black women or other women of color. It's a glaring bias and it has to end. We all need to access our internal biases and think deeply on this. I want to see more investment in Black beauty founders — women especially. I want to see more of us supported and at national retailers.. I want to see more of us win BIG.