black|UP Cosmetics: A Pioneer Company for Brown Beauty

by Jackie Celestin-André

I remember discovering this brand’s boutique in a trendy area in Paris back in 2000. I was impressed not only by the luxurious range of make up products, but also by the story behind the brand. Founded in 1999 by Fabrice Mahabo, a make up artist from the Ivory Coast, black|UP was created for many of the same reasons brands such as Black Opal or Fashion Fair--not to forget the many hair care brands, like Dark and Lovely and Optimum Care--were created in the USA: to cater to consumers who did not have the products to fit their beauty and hair care needs.

Believe me, back in 2000, it was difficult to find make up, in particular for the face (foundations/powders /blushes, etc). black|UP was developed to address the fact that makeup products were not adapted to women of color in France. So the founder started to work on textures, formulas and pigments to create a dedicated make up line for women of color.

Zoom forward to 2014, and the landscape of brands now catering to a wider palette of skin tones (from very light to very dark) are everywhere in France (as in the USA). These brands exist both in retail as well as in departments stores, and online access to American brands (that tend to have a lot of shades for women of color) have given women of color in France many more options.


Competition is always good, right? It can push you to be better, and I think black|UP has done a pretty good job of continuing to be a serious player in this highly competitive beauty market in France. One of the reasons is the current marketing director, Aïmara Coupet (pictured above), a woman of color born in Martinique, raised in Quebec and who landed in Paris in 2004. After working at L’Oreal Canada and Sephora Paris, Aïmara, who loves a challenge, joined black|Up with the mission to “take the brand to another level and make black|Up a must-have brand”. She’s doing this by revamping the entire existing catalog of products…. more sophisticated powerful pigments, premium packaging, new innovative launches, new imagery, new in store presence and also important--improved service to consumers, helping them appreciate the beauty of their skin enhanced with black|Up. Quoted from a recent June article in Miss EBENE, France’s modest version of Essence magazine, Aïmara states, “there is still a lot to learn about Black skin. My passion is to help reveal it, to help discover more about it. We are still in a marketplace where we are pioneers”.

Discover black|Up at their USA website

Jackie Celestin-André is a Brooklyn born beauty, fashion and healthy living aficionado, with a penchant for wines and French foods (including anything chocolate and pastries), currently living in Paris, France. She is a marketing and diversity professional working for the global leader in beauty, and writing about beauty brands, events, and French beauty makers. Her goal is to bring readers a little closer to Paris without their ever leaving the USA.