Back in 2000, an experimental form of reality entertainment debuted on American television. It was the first season of Big Brother, the European import that promised an addictive mix of 24-hour surveillance, game play, and hijinks when a group of strangers shacked up together in a makeshift house. In that first year, many things were different from the Big Brother franchise modern-day fans have come to know and love. Back then, the viewers chose who went home and Dr. Drew Pinsky showed up every once in a while.
The fourth-place finisher, and top female, on Big Brother 1 was Jamie Kern, then a pageant queen and lover of lip gloss. Seventeen years later, Kern is now Jamie Kern Lima, who’s built up an impressive resume as a journalist and self-made multi-millionaire. As the founder of IT Cosmetics, she became an entrepreneurial powerhouse by building her brand of body and face makeup into the go-to product for camouflaging skin differences, like Kern’s own red spots from rosacea. IT touts itself as a combo between skin care and cosmetics, according to a May 2017 profile of Lima on Forbes.
Apparently, Lima’s product hit the right chord, because beauty giant L’Oreal bought the company last year for $1.2 billion in cash. Lima was the majority owner and, according to Forbes‘ estimation, pocketed a sweet $410 million — after taxes (not before). That’s a nice sum for a woman who fell short of the grand prize on Season 1 of Big Brother. Current contestants on the program compete as hamsters in a cage for several months for a shot at $500,000 — before taxes.
During an interview with CBS This Morning in May 2017, Lima said her company’s mission is to show that every person is beautiful, even if the glam industry rarely shows women with different looks. She developed the product in consultation with skin care experts and did not rely merely on tried-and-tested beauty techniques that only seem to work on women without skin issues.
In the early days, Lima was repeatedly turned down by QVC. She eventually brought IT to the home shopping network and made her mark by demonstrating the product’s effectiveness on her own skin. In dramatic fashion during her QVC segment, Lima removed her makeup on-air, revealing the red spots she wanted to hide. She then used her IT product line to give herself flawless skin.
Lima isn’t just establishing herself as an entrepreneur because of her big deal with L’Oreal. She remains with the company to run IT Cosmetics and is the first-ever female CEO of any of L’Oreal’s brands over more than a century in the beauty industry.
Jamie Kern Lima is proof positive you can always find your own success — and then some — even if you come up short on reality television.
[Featured Image by Jamie Kern Lima/Instagram]