How Danessa Myricks Became the Change She Wished to See in the Beauty Industry

Taylor Masket
Taylor Masket
Jul 25, 2023

In Ep. 89 of Earned, Conor sits down with the legendary Danessa Myricks, founder of the inclusive, “boundary-breaking” beauty brand Danessa Myricks Beauty—which ranks among the top 50 cosmetics brands by EMV this year.


To start the episode, we discuss how Danessa became an “accidental makeup artist,” and broke into the beauty industry by creating educational makeup DVDs. We learn how the success of those DVDs led Danessa to consult for other beauty brands, and even become Director of Product Innovation at Benefit Cosmetics. We then hear why she became more passionate about teaching makeup artists around the world at a time when education around beauty was not easily accessible. Danessa shares how her observations around the lack of representation for marginalized communities in the then-homogenous beauty landscape inspired her to “be the change she wanted to see,” and led her to create her inclusive, eponymous beauty brand. We then discuss how Danessa built her community of over one million fans, and she explains how she cultivates connection through adding value wherever possible. Danessa shares why there is “so much power in our conversations about beauty” in bringing people together around the world. Finally, we discuss Danessa’s ambitions for the future of the brand, and close the show by learning how “showing up consistently” and recognizing organic brand fans has skyrocketed the brand’s success on social.

We’ve included a couple of highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, or tune into the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts!

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The following interview has been lightly edited for concision. 

“There’s a responsibility to be the change you want to see”: Why Danessa Myricks Was Inspired to Launch Her Own Makeup Brand 

Danessa Myricks: It's been an interesting journey for me. I've just always had a desire, I've always had a passion, to contribute more. And at first I didn't know what that contribution would look like. The first opportunity I felt that I could contribute was in teaching [artistry], because for me, getting information when I first started as an artist was so hard, because there wasn't any. During that time, the landscape for artists was very different. People were really protective of their jobs and their clients. I would go to photo shoots and [the makeup artists] would put tape around their products so that you didn't know what they were using. And rightfully so, because it was really hard to get work back then. 

So I knew how crippled I felt coming up at that time. I was so broke, and I'm a single mom too, so I was like, I just want to feed my kid. Somebody please tell me what powder I should use and what brand I should use. And then I was just like, you know what? If anybody's ever interested in knowing something, I'm going to tell them. I think people who have known me from the very beginning know: ask me anything. I love educating. I know the difference it would've made for me, and that it has made when people opened up and shared with me, and I really wanted to make that difference for other people. So I leaned into education a lot, and that was the first way that I thought I could create impact. 

But as I journeyed into doing beauty, as I got new clients, as I consulted and worked with other brands, I got to see the other side of things, and it became very clear from my clients and from what I saw happen behind the scenes in beauty that there were a lot of conversations that were missing, a lot of conversations that weren’t taken as seriously because they weren’t seen as productive in the landscape of beauty. I felt like there were a lot of people who were being omitted from the conversation. Sometimes it seemed like people didn’t know they existed. There are a lot of people who wear makeup who may not be women, who may not be the soccer mom, and people wear makeup differently. Somebody may want to put stars on their face, and some people like wearing a smokey eye every day, while others like to play with color and aren’t afraid of texture. 

But as I worked with brands behind the scenes, it seemed very homogenous, very much based on what happened before, what happened last year, what sold last year, what shade was hot. I saw that there was so much more opportunity, and I had a voice and I had a responsibility to share it, because I wanted to speak for the people who were unspoken for. That's really where the brand began. I just started making things that I wanted to see myself, and I realized that other people wanted to see those things too. And as they told me more things they wanted to see, it just got me more inspired to make more things. And here we are.

Conor Begley: When I was doing my research, the thing that really stood out to me was how much education was kind of the lifeblood of the brand. Obviously it comes from your own personal passion around it, right? And I think that that pay-it-forward attitude does pay. That's what I like the most about the internet today: it's not about whether you have the biggest budget or whether you have all the research. If you build real connections, if you treat people well, if you try to create good products that help people, you're going to win. 

Danessa Myricks: There's a responsibility to be the change you want to see. And so for me, when I think about what was missing in my journey in beauty as a Black woman, all of those feelings that I felt when I couldn't do simple things like match my skin, when I never saw somebody who was a reflection of me, all those things resonate with you. They mean something. I think about all the conversations that I've had. I’ve had the blessing to travel all around the world and really talk to people and hear their voices and hear what's meaningful to them. When you realize that there's a person, a real, live person at the other end of the things that you're making, I think it changes your perspective on how you create, how you communicate. Different things become important to you. Everything changes. When you focus on the people, and you put your energy into making people feel good, feel like they belong, you create a different kind of boomerang effect. By putting it out there, it just continues to come back around. It’s just a new way of thinking about beauty from the inside out.

“We have so much power in the conversations that we have within beauty”: Danessa Myricks on Adding Value to Build Community

Conor Begley: I think you've built [an incredibly large community on social media]. If we look at all your [social] profiles together, you have well over a million [followers]. That's a million people who have said, “I want to know what Danessa is doing.” What are the things that you've done that have helped you build that community? 

Danessa Myricks: It's really about adding value. We're education-forward, which is adding value. When you add value, people want to stay around. So I'm always thinking about how I can add value. Education is one way, and we're always trying to find new ways to offer education without a cost. We have a university where we offer tons of free education, not just from me, but from people all around the world. I have these global events that happen a few times a year. It's 48 hours of free education from different perspectives, different skin tones, different parts of the world. And we've really been able to create a community of people who love that, who love connecting with somebody on the other side of the world over a color fix. I think it's just really cool. 

I focus on building community through mentorship too. We have our Angels Program, which is a program that started during the pandemic when we were all alone and really sad. And I was like, okay, how can I bring a little bit of joy into not just my life, but create some connection? I missed my people. In 2019, I traveled 300 days of the year, I was out in the world. I was really in touch with the people who were connecting with the brand. I was in so many countries because I love teaching and connecting with people. And then suddenly it all stopped. So I was hungry to find ways to feel that energy again and connect. 

The university started at the end of 2019 into 2020. The Angels Program started in 2020, and we would have monthly chats not just about makeup, but also how can we become better people? How can we learn a new skill? You are going to be an Angel, you’ve got 11 followers, so I'm going to teach you how to build your following. Let me teach you how to do photography, lighting. Let me teach you how social works and how to grow. We spent a whole year doing this, really adding value to people's lives. And then I have a lot of mentorship programs that I do even outside of the brand, like I am a mentor for The Makeup Show’s iArtist program. 

I'm just constantly trying to find ways to add value. And those connections run deep. They're long. They don't just disappear. I really do think that people understand what I'm trying to create as a human, what we're trying to do as a brand. I know this may sound super corny, but I really do think that through beauty you can change the world. I've seen people in warring countries connect through our Angels Program and become best friends. I remember traveling to Russia, to a place called Vladivostok, where people have never in their life seen a person of color, never seen hair like mine, who had ideas about who Black people are because they only get a reference of it from the news. I've sat at tables where people are like, “please don't hate us. Don't judge us by our leader. We're loving people too.” These kinds of conversations happened over makeup, over how to do a beautiful eye, how to have gorgeous skin, falling in love with a product universally around the world. For me, that's fascinating. For me, that's super powerful. It's the one thing that gets me out of my shell because I'm like, “wow, we could really create an impact.” We can really connect the dots around the world. 

We have so much power in the conversations that we have within beauty, and we could add so much value to each other's lives and really change, as a community, what it feels like to participate in beauty. Because historically, so many people have been marginalized. How could we turn that all around to have an impact, not just through the products that I create, but for new generations of creators who are starting brands, how do we affect how they look at the people that they're going to be serving? For me, it's just super powerful. So it's all of those ways, really staying connected on a human level and really holding on and nurturing these relationships. 

I do my own social, I'm in my own DMs. Sometimes I write people back and they're like, “Is this you or is this someone on Danessa's team?” It’s me. How can I prove it? Let me leave you a voice note, I just want to say that I really like this photo and I think it's really cool that you love this product. It's so important because, to your point, it's so easy to get lost in the numbers and get lost in the matrix and the metrics. So I think the only thing that keeps us connected is to really be involved and really talk to the people who you're serving and really listen.


Keep up with new episodes of Earned by following the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, or subscribing to our YouTube channel. To catch up on our previous episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Revolve, K18, Instagram, and Roblox, visit our Earned Podcast page.