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#IAmAnOriginal: Jhennifer Thomas on Defining Success

PEOPLE

For Jhennifer Thomas, success isn’t defined by where you are, but how you get there. The Georgia resident has spent years working her way up to supervise her entire department at work. It’s this same determination to succeed that made her try hard to have good skin; Jhennifer has fought for years to maintain her skin’s health and heal acne scars.

The journey to healthy skin led Jhennifer to bareMinerals and now, her ORIGINAL Foundation cares for her skin while lasting through even the busiest work days. Inspired by this bareOriginal’s story, we invited Jhennifer to New York City in December, where she took part in our #IAmAnOriginal campaign — a year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of ORIGINAL Foundation. We caught up with Jhennifer on set to learn more about finding makeup as a woman of color, and how the ambitious career woman leans on our iconic 5-ingredient formula.

How did you first get introduced to bareMinerals?

In high school, I wanted to start wearing makeup. I didn’t really know how to start, who to go to. So naturally my mother was the first point of reference. She wore bareMinerals, and I tried it and really liked it. So I took hers! And it’s been like a love story ever since then. I’ve tried other brands and I always come back to [bareMinerals] because it maintains the integrity of my skin. The color doesn’t change. I just looks good all day.

What are you passionate about when it comes to your makeup?

Being a woman of color, color matching has always been a really big issue for me. Now we have brands that have like, 50 shades, but it wasn’t always that way. So either I would have to opt for not wearing makeup at all — which made me feel really excluded — or I did wear makeup and it’d be gray or too red. There are so many people all across the world that want to be included in the beauty industry. The more [brands] expand, naturally, the more money [they’ll] make, because people will be like, “Hey, I see me in you, so I’m going to invest in you.” And that’s what you want.

How does ORIGINAL Foundation make you feel?

Beautiful. Sometimes, after a really long work week, I look like death. Then, I put on [ORIGINAL Foundation] and I’m like, “I can tackle this email, I can tackle this spreadsheet, I can review this check run in four hours.”

Do you typically work more than 40 hours a week?

Absolutely. I work between 50 and 60 hours. Depending on the time of the year, [I] get a little closer to 70 hours.

And your ORIGINAL Foundation still stays put?

It lasts. All I do is literally just touch up little oily parts of my face and then maybe [lip] gloss and I can go to happy hour.

What has driven you to working as hard as you can?

Growing up, there were some tough times. I graduated into the recession and [saw] everybody lose everything. Working hard to just make sure that you have enough — or more than enough — is really important for me, because I can see what it looks like when you lose everything. My dad lost his house, we lost everything during the recession. We had to build everything back up. I left California because the job market was just terrible. Everybody was moving to the South because there were more opportunities and I was like, “Forget it. Let’s go.” I literally packed my bags, packed my bedroom at my dad’s house and drove across the country in five days.

What is some good advice that you live by?

Treat everybody with kindness because you don’t know what people are going through. You have no idea. That’s happened to me quite a few times when I was working with someone and found out they were getting ready to lose their house or [they were already] homeless. Always be kind because you really don’t know. If someone’s a little snappy, it could be something that you know nothing about.

What is a good way to start your day?

Meditation or exercise. [I’ve been meditating for] five years. Once I got really into working a lot of hours, I needed something. So it’s either the gym in the morning or meditation — or both if I need to.

What is one good beauty tip that you’ve learned?

Go to bed greasy. My great grandmother is 94, and both her and my mom have always been like, “When you go to bed after you shower, oil up.” It literally maintains you throughout your life. I use olive oil or almond oil. Keep it really simple and then just oil up, and I promise you’ll wake up and you’ll be like, “I’m glowy.”

Who has been one force of good in your life and why?

This will sound really corny, but Oprah. I feel like Oprah is everybody’s aunt that you go to for advice. Her content and what she produces — it’s soul food. Watching her and listening to her interviews and what she’s been through in her life gives me a lot of motivation to keep going.