building

IT Cosmetics’ Jamie Kern Lima on building a billion-dollar company

This story is part of the Behind the Desk series where CNBC Make It gets personal with successful business executives to find out everything from how they got to where they are to what makes them get out of bed in the morning to their daily routines.

Jamie Kern Lima’s story sounds like a dream.

After working as waitress at Denny’s, as contestant on “Big Brother,” and as a local news reporter in Washington and Oregon, the former beauty pageant winner, Kern Lima launched her own business at 31. Within eight years, Kern Lima sold that company, IT Cosmetics, to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion in cash. It made Kern Lima a very rich woman — according to Forbes, she pocketed roughly $410 million from the deal, and is worth roughly $460 million today. Kern Lima also stayed on with IT for three years, making her the

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Jamie Kern Lima on handling rejection while building IT Cosmetics

“When you google my story, you see Denny’s waitress built billion-dollar empire, you see the highlight reel,” says Jamie Kern Lima, the founder IT Cosmetics.

Those parts are true: In college Kern Lima worked at Denny’s, and in 2008, she and her husband both quit their jobs (Kern Lima was a local news anchor at the time) and started a makeup company. Kern Lima wanted a foundation that would cover her rosacea (a common skin condition that causes redness on the face), so she created one.

The makeup line expanded from there, and eight years later, L’Oreal bought IT Cosmetics for $1.2 billion in cash. Kern Lima pocketed roughly $410 million from the deal, according to Forbes, and for about three years she stayed on as CEO of IT Cosmetics, which made her the first female CEO in L’Oreal’s history.

But the rags to riches story is not the

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