If you ever need a reminder that you have what it takes, think of Jennifer Harper. Earlier this year, the Cheekbone Beauty founder walked away from a life-changing, or at least business-changing, amount of money: $125,000. Harper, who is Anishinaabe, had finally made it onto Dragons’ Den after two previous auditions and Dragon Vincenzo Guzzo was intrigued by her business, a cruelty-free makeup line with products named after inspiring Indigenous women, like Olympian Waneek Horn-Miller, singer Buffy Sainte-Marie and former Mrs. Universe Ashley Callingbull. There was just one problem: He wanted a 50 percent stake in the company. That’s not what Harper wanted, though, so she passed. The risk paid off; she soon scored a $350,000 investment from Raven Indigenous Capital Partners—a Vancouver-based, Indigenous-owned venture capital firm—and a $50,000 grant from Dragons’ Den sponsor Desjardins. That funding will help Harper reach her goal of creating a $1-billion cosmetics brand, with 10 percent of profits donated to Shannen’s Dream, which advocates for education funding for First Nations children.
(Photo: Courtesy of Cheekbone Beauty, Illustration: Maia Faddoul)