Even with a mask on, you can still be glam, and support a Diné-owned business
Admittedly, it was a gamble to start a beauty company in the middle of a pandemic. But former model Freida Nockideneh Jones reasoned she wasn’t the only woman tired of the COVID grunge.
She had always gotten compliments on her eyes, “but after I started wearing my mask, it was even more, sometimes from total strangers,” she said. “The mask really sets off your eyes.”
That got her thinking about false eyelashes. She had loved them since she was a teenager, but had yet to find a brand that really spoke to her as a Native woman. So she created one.
PrimulLx (pronounced “Primalux”) launched its website in mid-September, as schools were opening and COVID cases were spiking. Jones was expecting sales to be slow. They weren’t.
“I’m really, really happy with how it’s going,” she said from her home in Los Angeles. “It’s been steady, which is all anyone can hope for right now.”
Jones, who is Tsé Njikiní born for Tó Dichíinii, believes beauty comes from a place of knowing who you are. This wasn’t always easy for her.
Born in Tuba City and growing up in the Four Corners, she never had to think much about what it means to be a Native woman. Practically everyone was Native. But after she married photographer Jay Jones and moved to his diverse home city of Los Angeles, she started thinking about the things that set her apart from all the other beautiful people in various shades of brown.
“I feel like I’m just now coming to terms with my identity,” she mused.
When she sketches out her lashes, she imagines a Native woman and then creates a design for her. For instance, if this describes you: “She will capture you. She is not tamed. She wills her dreams. She is like no other,” you might be a candidate for the Desert Fantasy look – thick, long and a bit irregular and wild, like animal fur.
The wearer of the lighter, more natural Yellow Rising is “walking in beauty. She is in the early sunlight. She is blessed. She makes her own path,” according to Primullx’s website.
“We need to showcase that kind of pride and that kind of beauty,” Jones said.
While she has Native Americans in mind when she creates her products, Jones has customers of all races and doesn’t begrudge any of them. “These are for anyone who likes them,” she said. “There are Natives all over the world. Every woman has their own identity and culture.”
So far, the company has four eyelash designs, an eyelash glue and applicator, a lip gloss and two makeup sponges, but Jones plans to add products as her brand solidifies.
One of her first customers was Tionne Tomae of Tionne’s House of Hair in Window Rock, who knew Jones when she was a model and Tomae was designing clothes. “I love her brand and believe it will be a great success,” said Tomae. “The lashes are very great quality, amazing luxury lashes for an amazing price, and are so easy to use and complete as well as enhance any look.”
While some of the lashes look like they were snipped from a mink, all the products are vegan and cruelty-free — “It wouldn’t be worth it to me to hurt animals,” Jones said. She believes businesses should be a force for good in the community, and after a little more money rolls in (and pandemic restrictions are relaxed), she hopes to create an event or project to help a local or national charity.
In the meantime, she’s using her social media to cross-promote other Native-owned companies. “I’m trying to find Native companies and work something out with them,” she said. “There need to be a lot more Native-owned businesses.”
Information: primullx.com, PrimulLx on Facebook.