Vanessa Simmons Knows What’s Been Missing With Celebrity Beauty Brands
Image Source: Courtesy of Vanessa Simmons and Marcus Fort Photography
Vanessa Simmons has been entrenched in the worlds of beauty and self-care for years. Aside from being the daughter of Hip Hop legend, Reverend Run, she grew up as a pageant girl. “My love for beauty really started [in that space],” she tells POPSUGAR. “I competed in New York Teen USA and internationally in the model of the World Competition. I was also Miss USA – that’s really where my passion for it all really came from.”
Though she grew up surrounded by glamour, Simmons shares that the beauty landscape for her growing up was rough, like it was for many Black people in the 2000s. “Today, a lot of people have someone do their makeup for them in the pageantry space but I had to learn to do it all myself,” she says. Not only were shade ranges and well-suited complexion products at that time limited, but she also had to educate herself on formulas that worked for her skin but wouldn’t create a white cast.
Image Source: Courtesy of Vanessa Simmons
It was partly this experience that drove her to create U4ia, her beauty, self-care, and wellness platform. “With this brand, I wanted to make the worlds of beauty and self-care accessible to everyone,” she says. “To me, overall wellness is how you love on yourself. If you feel good physically and internally, then you get drastically better output in life.”
Fully aware of the over-saturation of celebrity beauty brands on the market, Simmons didn’t want to add to the noise with yet another product-focused line. “I’m not saying there won’t ever be product in the future, but right now I want to focus on education,” she says. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible brands like Buttah Skin and Yummy Hair, but Black-owned brands catering to individuals of color was not something that I saw growing up and is honestly still really needed.”
For Simmons, these partnerships continue to underscore the importance of representation in the beauty and wellness industries. “It’s really another branch of the U4ia universe that I’m trying to hone in on to really try to get people to see that these spaces are for us too.”
To help spread the word, Simmons plans to go on tour in 2024 to bring the message of U4ia to as many communities as possible. While there are still a few months to go before the first stop in Los Angeles, for now, you can access her site at u4ianow.com for all things beauty, self-care, and wellness from one of Hip Hop’s first daughters.