Hidden in an unassuming warehouse off Airline Highway in Baton Rouge, two women are making eye shadows beauty devotees around the globe are dying to get their hands on.
Deandra Craig is dressed today in scrubs and a white lab coat, her dark hair tied back in a ponytail. She’s scribbling chemistry formulas on loose-leaf notebook paper. Surrounded by test tubes and jars, she’s quietly plotting her beauty brand’s next big move.
On the other side of the room, Jennifer Clifton is also wearing scrubs. She’s digging through a stack of papers as thick as a calculus textbook. “These are just the orders that came in today,” she says. The packing slips are addressed as far as Canada, Hungary and the United Kingdom.
This is JD Glow Cosmetics, a beauty brand that produces vibrant highlighters, eye shadows and liners, and lip glosses and lipsticks. Friends Craig and Clifton co-founded it in 2015, working from Craig’s dining room. By 2016, their glitter lipsticks and galaxy eye shadows had landed a feature on Beauty Insider’s site, and they sold out of every product in their inventory.
The brand has somehow slid mostly under the radar here in Louisiana over the years, despite being featured in national publications—and its quarter of a million followers on Instagram.
But its glamorous products have captured the attention of beauty junkies and bloggers, in part thanks to its founders’ own fearlessness. They’re constantly sending personalized boxes of their makeup to beauty YouTubers, bloggers and magazine editors.
“We know once people try our stuff, they’re going to love it,” Clifton says confidently.
But they also credit the brand’s success to their innovation—they say JD Glow has been reinventing the beauty game since its launch. It has been selling shimmering highlighters and illuminators since 2015—before lines like Rihanna’s popular Fenty Beauty brought that style into the mainstream.
And the women can’t keep their latest hit in stock: multi-chrome, color-changing pressed eye shadows that debuted in late February.
Clifton strolls over to a table full of freshly pressed shadows in the “No Way” shade. The colors shift like holographic trading cards. One minute, they’re purple. The next, green. Wait—now, they look more gold.
Actually, as it turns out, this shadow is all three colors. Once applied to the skin, it produces a velvety, ombre-like metallic gradient. It’s the kind of dazzling look you might expect to see on a mermaid, or you know, just somebody in a really good Mardi Gras outfit. It’s no wonder the shades always seem to be sold out.
For Craig, 34, and Clifton, 35, it’s been a dream—and even more special that they’ve realized the dream as a duo. They grew up together, went through nursing school together, and later had their kids around the same time. JD Glow is named for their first initials.
Perhaps thanks to their nursing background, they are meticulous about their formulations and ensuring everything stays hygienic and clean.
“We’re picky-icky germ freaks,” Clifton says with a laugh.
It turns out mixing makeup is as complicated as chemistry. Craig walks over to a room full of plastic bags and buckets, and she heaves a bucket across the floor. A shimmery purple cloud of powder puffs upward into the air. It looks like fuchsia-colored flour, but she explains it’s actually particles of pigment, one of the base materials she’ll use to formulate her makeup potions. Across the room, an entire shelving unit is filled with more than 50 jars of glitter. From afar, the jars all look similar to each other. But upon closer inspection, each is full of flecks of glitter in different sizes, shapes and colors.
Clifton and Craig are also adamant about keeping their line inclusive, wearable by all skin tones. They’ve experimented with making foundations, but they refuse to release anything until the shades are just right.
Between product development and fielding orders and press, they have a lot on their plate. But for now, they say, the company will remain a team of two. Clifton and Craig split all the creative, public relations and business duties, from packaging and shipping to social media. They really can’t imagine it any other way.
“We bump heads like sisters,” Clifton says, “but we’re always good friends.” jdglowcosmetics.com
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.