Woman of the Year 2019: Jennifer Harper

Jennifer Harper is a Chatelaine Woman of the Year for believing in herself and her boundary-pushing beauty brand.

by
Jennifer Harper

(Photo: Courtesy of Cheekbone Beauty, Illustration: Maia Faddoul)

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.

Meet all of our 2019 Women of the Year here.