After immigrating to Canada at the age of seven, Destiny Matuet had trouble developing strong self-esteem because the discrimination she faced left her feeling different and alone. However, she has since reclaimed her confidence by sharing her experiences, educating and empowering Black women and becoming an entrepreneur.
Matuet always felt like there was something special about her – a light only she had. As a young child, Matuet remembers reading the Bible in front of her churchmates – bold, with confidence. She felt her charisma and enthusiasm made her special.
During her middle school years, Matuet was surrounded by a predominantly white student body who treated her differently because of the way she looked. Her light began to dim.
“Being told that, like, ‘Your hair is weird’ or ‘Why is your hair different or looks like this? Your lunch looks like that. You smell like this.’ It really kind of stops the process [of] growing into yourself,” Matuet says.
She knew she should have been focusing on recess or her sports teams––she knew childhood should not have been about dealing with discrimination. Being a part of the ethnic minority in school, microaggressions became normal to Matuet.
“That was kind of a traumatic experience. I didn’t even know that it was that bad until I grew up. I [just had] no confidence, like I was just very, very insecure [about] myself.”
Growing up she knew she would have to be a strong role model for her younger sister, Nyaguon Matuet. Especially when it comes to appearance, Matuet constantly encourages her sister.
“I am very careful about what I tell her about herself and things like that. I know there’s things going on [at] school that we don’t all know about,” Matuet says.
Through Matuet’s reassurance, Nyaguon recognizes how reliable and supportive her sister has been.
“If I needed her, she was always there for me. She always had my back and I have hers,” Nyaguon says.
GROWING A PASSION
A jock in school, Matuet was more interested in basketball than lipstick or other ‘girly’ things. Her love for makeup was born at 19, when she wanted to make herself look more presentable.
“I actually just taught myself and it was always honestly really hard in the beginning because YouTube at the time, when it first started… didn’t have a lot of dark-skinned women.”
Adjusting everything she learned to suit her skin tone made her realize the way the cosmetic industry caters their products to light-skinned women. Trial and error made up most of the learning process, but Matuet enjoyed all of it. She began to share her new love with everyone, including her sister.
“I love makeup, as well. Actually, I fell in love with makeup because of my sister,” Nyaguon says.
Matuet began posting her makeup looks on her social media pages. Her friends on Facebook started to recognize her talent and asked for YouTube tutorials, pushing her to start her social media presence and makeup career.
She started her Youtube channel in 2015, featuring simple tutorials for women with similar complexions. Making videos became the catalyst for Matuet’s dedication to shining a light on the shared experience between her and her followers. Since she started, Matuet loves how she can connect with other women. This made her want to look forward and share her knowledge on beauty and self-confidence.
“Makeup [is] so much fun for me because it’s some way of helping people at some capacity. And especially with the way they look because that was something that I worked with; how I can help people feel beautiful.”
While working at the Clinique counter in Chinook Mall, Matuet pursued freelance makeup work, which reaffirmed how difficult it is to find makeup accessible for darker skin tones. Matuet met her good friend Sahra Abukar who worked in the neighbouring store, Topshop. Abukar grew up in Ontario, on the opposite side of Canada, these two women faced the same issue.
“I came from Ontario where you can find more shades,” says Abukar. “But moving to Calgary, it’s like you really can’t find shades.”
TURNING A PASSION INTO A CAREER
Matuet felt disheartened every time she could not find any products suitable for darker-skinned women so she founded Complexion — a cosmetics brand catered to women with darker skin tones — so no one else had to be disappointed at a makeup counter.
“The whole goal for the collection was really just to create a space, or create something for Black women to feel included,” she says. “Let’s simplify makeup for the everyday Black girl, let’s make it where if I didn’t know what I was doing with makeup, I could pick this stuff up. And I would be OK,” Matuet says.
The beauty community in Calgary continues to support Complexion. Matuet works closely with a team to provide underrepresented women a place in the beauty world.
“Complexion can offer up a sisterhood or community because I don’t believe that this is just a makeup brand, I really don’t. I believe the story behind it is beautiful,” Nyaguon says.
Abukar has supported Matuet since the beginning stages of Complexion and now handles product management – pricing, packaging and promoting. Along with other women, she tests products to ensure the best quality.
“I think the world honestly is changing so much and people are starting to become more inclusive and think about diversity in the makeup industry,” Abukar says.
Complexion constantly pushes for diversity and representation. This was a way for Matuet to affirm her pride in her East African heritage and celebrate her culture – inspiring details like naming the different shades.
During early development, Matuet says that her vision for Complexion was completely different from what it is now. So much has changed in six years. The products, packaging, and branding have evolved with her, but Matuet’s passion for providing a community stayed the same.
Matuet feels starting her own business has been a huge undertaking, she did not realize how mentally and emotionally difficult it would be. Matuet experienced challenges of self-doubt and imposter complexes. However, she understood the impact her project could have on the lives of people going through similar experiences. Overcoming these hardships is making her more grateful through the process.
“This isn’t just about me, this is about what my contribution to the world will be.”