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Alumna Paula Hayes Receives Small Business Innovation Award

November 22, 2017

Lewis & Clark Trustee Paula Hayes BA ’92 has been named a recipient of a 2017 Portland Business Journal Small Business Innovation Award for her cosmetics company Hue Noir, which specializes in developing makeup designed for women of color. Although it offers lipstick, eyeshadow, and foundation for a variety of skin tones, Hue Noir’s primary goal is to serve darker-skinned women who have traditionally been left out of the beauty products marketplace.

Currently, Hue Noir is sold in three beauty boutiques in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., and will be rolling out in 100 Target stores over the next several weeks. It was also featured at MadeHerePDX as part of a series spotlighting creators of color.

Hayes used her training in biology to work as a research and development chemist for American Fruit Processors, where she specialized in new product development for clients including Quaker Oats and Coca Cola. Later she served as executive vice president of sales and operations for the Trusperity Corporation, where she gained experience in building businesses from concept to final product delivery.

“The sooner you can expose students in a liberal arts setting to some of the ideas behind business and entrepreneurship, the sooner they can start putting together the pieces of the puzzle,” said Hayes at a workshop of Lewis & Clark’s Bates Center for Entrepreneurship and Leadership. “I would encourage students to go for it—whether that’s becoming an integral part of a wonderful business that’s already established or becoming the catalyst for a great new idea in a for-profit or nonprofit. Nothing that’s worth doing comes easy.”

In her profile in the Portland Business Journal, Hayes discussed her struggle to find makeup that wore well and fit her skin tone. “You walk out feeling like you’re not putting your best face forward,” she said. “If you’re trying to conquer the world, that’s just not something you want to be worried about.” This led her to begin developing cosmetics at home, trying to find a formula that fit her. Soon there was plenty of demand, and Hayes realized that her products appealed to people facing the same problem she did: women of color who found themselves underserved in the prestige beauty market.

In 2015, the Portland Business Journal recognized Hayes for her entrepreneurial achievements.  The same year, she was the recipient of the Pioneer Alumni Leadership Award, given to an alumnus who displays extraordinary leadership and demonstrates exceptional service to the college. She has served on Lewis & Clark’s Board of Alumni, and has volunteered with the Office of Admissions and the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement.

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This story was written by Emily Price ’18.

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