VC-Backed Makeup Brand Beauty Bakerie Closes

Beauty Bakerie, a venture capital-backed makeup brand sold in thousands of retail stores, has shuttered.

Founder Cashmere Nicole announced the closure Friday via Beauty Bakerie’s social media accounts, its website and an email to customers. In the announcement, she informed them “her taste buds have changed” and that they can stock up on the brand’s items at Ulta Beauty, CVS, Target and Amazon while supplies last, and she linked to a Christian podcast called “Silence & Song” she started last year.

“Thank you so much for being a part of this journey,” wrote Nicole. “This is an end for sure, but also an evolution, a carrying forward of the essence of what The Lord was able to do here, through us all, into new places, spaces, and missions, guided by the wisdom He so generously gives. He calls us to a deeper place – to follow a path lit not by our own ambitions and interests but His.”

On Friday, Beauty Bakerie announced via its website, social media accounts and an email to customers that it’s closed. The brand had assembled a retail network of 2,000-plus doors at the likes of Target, Ulta Beauty and CVS.

On Instagram, where Beauty Bakerie has 1 million followers, the brand wiped its feed clean with the exception of a single post showing the closure announcement and an apron being thrown on a kitchen counter. In response to the post, fans expressed support for Nicole’s decision and disappointment about the brand’s closure and the closures of other beauty brands founded by women of color. On March 19, Suva Beauty founder Shaina Azad announced Suva Beauty would be shuttering. Both Suva Beauty and Beauty Bakerie had been available at Morphe, the Forma Brands-owned beauty retail chain that ended in 2023.

Uoma Beauty was on the brink of closure, but investment firm MacArthur Beauty salvaged it late last year. Although its site has been inoperable for months, the makeup brand brought on Mary Beth Peterson, former president of Florence by Mills and president of North America at Ren Clean Skincare, as COO and CRO in February to help with its revival. Nigerian-born Sharon Chuter launched Uoma in 2019. Unilever Ventures had backed Uoma and Beauty Bakerie.

In the announcement of Beauty Bakerie’s closure, Nicole didn’t delve into the state of its business. However, beauty brands today are under tremendous pressure from VC investors to be profitable and retailers to be strong sales drivers. For Black-owned brands like Beauty Bakerie, demand that spiked in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020 has ebbed, compounding their challenges. For clean beauty brands, a group Beauty Bakerie was in, clean beauty has become less of a differentiator as it’s gone mainstream. Additionally, makeup preferences have shifted away from the glam look Beauty Bakerie was associated with.

Cashmere Nicole Carillo, a former nurse known as Cashmere Nicole professionally, exhibited an entrepreneurial spirit early. In a 2019 presentation covered by the publication Women’s Wear Daily, Nicole recounted she had three businesses by the age of 14. Nicole launched Beauty Bakerie in 2011 and was diagnosed with breast cancer the same year.

The diagnosis caused Nicole to pay close attention to the ingredients in beauty products, and Beauty Bakerie prioritized what it described as nontoxic, vegan and cruelty-free formulas. Playing on the baking theme, a throughline at the brand, Beauty Bakerie’s tagline was, “Better not Bitter.”

Beauty Bakerie founder and CEO Cashmere Nicole

“When I’d eat breakfast, there was always lipstick on my fork and on my straw, and I thought to myself, ‘Was I eating the cancer?’ You never know what was in those makeup products,” Nicole told Beauty Independent in 2022. “So, that led me to say I want my ingredients to be healthy. I want them to be nontoxic, and I don’t want them to be carcinogenic.”

Priced at $20 to $22, smudge-proof Lip Whip matte lipsticks were Beauty Bakerie’s bestsellers. Aside from Lip Whip, the brand’s assortment contained $24 Face Flour Baking Powder, $22 Waffle Things Makeup, $18 Lollipop Liquid Liner, $18 Lemon Bar Face Palette and $18 Brownie Bar Face Palette. In 2022, Beauty Bakerie expanded into skincare with products priced from $18 to $30 such as Don’t Be Chai Tea Toner, Coffee Break AHA + BHA Exfoliating Facial and Better Half My Creamer Hydra-Rich Facial Moisturizer.

Along with Nicole, who served as CEO, the leadership team at Beauty Bakerie included COO Nicholas Lara, CFO Roderick Roberts and former CMO Michael Markham. By 2017, the magazine Forbes reported Beauty Bakerie was nearing $5 million in sales. That year, it raised $3 million in seed funding from Unilever Ventures, 645 Ventures, Richelieu Dennis, co-founder of SheaMoisture and founder of New Voices Fund, and Kenneth Chenault, former CEO of American Express, among several investors. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas joined the brand as a partner.

At the time of its seed funding round, Beauty Bakerie disclosed it was entering Riley Rose, a now-defunct beauty branch of Forever 21, QVC UK, HSN, Wojooh in the Middle East and Sephora in Southeast Asia. Currently, its products remain available at Nordstrom and Lookfantastic as well as Amazon, Ulta, CVS and Target, although they’re marked down on Lookfantastic’s site.

In 2019, Beauty Bakerie was on track to hit $12 million to $15 million in sales, according to an article in the outlet CEW Daily. The article details it employed 30 people and had spread to over 120 countries. By its closure, it reached 2,000-plus retail doors. The financial information resource Crunchbase estimates Beauty Bakerie raised $14.7 million in total funding.

The financial information resource Crunchbase estimates Beauty Bakerie raised $14.7 million in total funding. In 2017, it closed a $3 million seed round with funding from Unilever Ventures, 645 Ventures and others.

Beauty Bakerie was involved in short-lived controversies. Five years ago, competitor Huda Beauty was slammed in social media for allegedly copying Beauty Bakerie’s concept with a range of loose powders. Four years ago, Beauty Bakerie employees went public with accusations about mistreatment at the brand.

On May 8 last year, Nicole revealed in a YouTube video that she’d moved from the United States to Thailand—Beauty Bakerie was originally headquartered in San Diego, but transitioned to being global and remote—and had been dealing with mental health struggles stemming from the stress of helming the brand and hustle culture in the U.S. Leaving the U.S., setting work-related boundaries and turning to her faith was improving her mental health.

In the video, Nicole said, “You cannot kill me Beauty Bakerie. It’s been…an amazing ride. It’s also taken a lot out of me. I’ve learned so much. I’ve grown in places that you just wouldn’t imagine.”