Iman paved the way for Black models to chart careers in a fashion industry that has been notoriously exclusionary. She didn’t just create opportunities on the catwalk, she led by professional example off of it as well.
In 1994, she’d managed to walk and be photographed for the world’s top designers and be deemed the world’s first Black supermodel. She’d also launched Iman Cosmetics, a collection of makeup and skincare products designed for Black women. The line blew the lid off the beauty industry, offering a range of items where there were none. This opened the door for a historic partnership a decade later, where in a strategic partnership with Proctor & Gamble, allowed the brand to be sold in drug stores like Walgreens and Target globally.
Iman’s money moves opened the door for the generations ahead to exercise their power in front of the camera and in the board room. Here’s what we mean.
Chantelle Whitney Brown-Young, AKA Winnie Harlow, competed on cycle 21 of ANTM in 2014 and was eliminated. That didn’t slow her down at all though. Since then she’s become a highly sought-after face for beauty and fashion brands. Most recently, she launched her won suncare line Cay Skin.
Since the 90s, Naomi Campbell has been that girl. After establishing herself as a supermodel and landing countless endorsement deals, she founded her charity Fashion for Relief in 2005, which went on to raise funds for Hurricane Katrina.
Banks has created a multi-million dollar empire across various verticals. Her long-running America’s Next Top Model and self-titled talk show raked in millions of viewers. In fact in 2009, Banks was named the highest-paid woman in prime time with an annual income of $30 million. She’s launched her own cosmetics line and is now a co-host on America’s Got Talent.
Jasmine Tookes captivated the world with her looks and wings as a Victoria’s Secret model. But that wasn’t enough for her. In 2021 she launched an athleisure company alongside her bestfriend Josephine Skriver named Joja and has enjoyed immense success thus far.
Ebanks modeled Tommy Hilfiger, Betsey Johnson and Victoria’s Secret, clenching Forbes’ 13th highest-paid model spot.
After retiring from modeling, Ebanks turned her sights to philanthropy and returned to her hometown in the Cayman Islands to launch a charity organization called the Women’s Coalition for Empowerment and Opportunities.
Kimora Lee Simmons
Discovered as a pre-teen, Kimora Lee Simmons became a highly sought-after model for the best brands and fashion until retiring when she married Russell Simmons. Much like her then-husband, she built her own clothing empire with Baby Phat in the 90s and 2000s. Until this day, she is still making power moves, landing distribution deals for Baby Phat with Forever 21, and Macy’s.