Conviction, Perseverance and Passion Highlighted at Second Annual Women Who Shine Gala

Jamie Kern Lima poured countless hours and practically all the money she had to spare into the development of her own line of cosmetics. It seemed like her big break was on the horizon after she lined up a meeting with a major investment group and put on a presentation that wowed them.

But even though the investors admitted that they were impressed, they ultimately declined to back her. She asked why, and after a few moments of silence the lead representative of the firm told said “I just don’t think women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you because of your body and your weight,” she recalled.

In that moment, a lifetime of insecurities flooded her mind. But at the same time, an even stronger sense of conviction filled her heart.

“I got this feeling, I feel it now like it was yesterday, that said ‘he’s wrong,’” Lima said.

She persisted. And her line of skincare products, IT Cosmetics, eventually became one of the most recognized names in beauty. Kern Lima wound up selling the brand to L’Oréal for $1.2 billion in 2016. That deal made her the first female executive in the company’s over 100 years of existence and one of Forbes’  “richest self-made women” in 2017.

She shared her story on March 20 with roughly 275 aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders who attended the second annual “Women Who Shine Gala” at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. The sold-out event was hosted by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Women’s Business Network. It brought together women and allies from across the country and a wide variety of fields to inspire, uplift and support each other.

“It reminded me as a woman in law enforcement, which tends to be a challenging career for women in particular, that many of the challenges we face are very similar no matter what industry we’re in,” Beverly Hills Police Capt. Elisabeth Albanese said. “When you’re a woman being a leader in a business or a government agency, it can tend to be lonely. Having those connections with other women can give you the confidence to continue moving forward.”

Portions of the money raised by the Gala will go to support the work of Girls Inc. It will be used to help the nonprofit host programs that help young women find mentors and colleagues while training them to succeed in all professional fields.

The evening’s other keynote speaker, Sprinkles Cupcakes founder Candace Nelson, emphasized the importance of being authentic, following your passions and trusting oneself. She started her career in investment banking, and was working in San Francisco during the height of the tech boom. When the bubble burst, her well laid future plans were upended.

So, Nelson turned inward. That led her to rediscover the joy she felt and shared while baking treats with her mother. 

“Here I was with this crazy dream, betting it all on cupcakes,” she said.

Nelson said few people could even recognize what a red velvet cake was when she opened her first bakery. Today, Sprinkles has dozens of locations spread across eight states and the District of Columbia.

“This event doubled from what it was a year ago,” Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Johnson noted. “And I don’t know where we’ll be a year from now, maybe in a bigger place,” he joked. 

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