Monique Glover’s small cosmetics company in Hasbrouck Heights has seen its share of red carpets and TV celebrity endorsements in its first five years.
Since LaMonique Cosmetics’ first sale in 2017, the mineral-based cosmetic company has gained favor from influential reality stars such as Tara Wallace, Isis King and Peggy Tanous.
Recently, however, Glover, a 47-year-old from Lodi, has sought partnerships that go more than skin deep.
This year, she unveiled the first of those collaborations: the “So Tru” collection. The new eyeshadow palette is beyond a tribute to famed civil rights activist Sojourner Truth. It has an ambassador in 29-year-old C’Aira Leisher, a sixth-generation granddaughter of Truth.
“For this project, I didn’t want just your average influencer,” Glover said. “So, when I heard about Sojourner Truth, I wanted to bring awareness to her story.”
The story of Truth
Born in 1797 to enslaved parents, Truth grew up in Ulster County, New York. She was sold as a slave several times before she became a teenager, abused and forced into a marriage that produced five children.
In late 1827, Truth fled with one child, Sophia, she told her friend Olive Gilbert as recounted in the 1850 biography, “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth.” She said her then-owner John Dumont of West Park, New York broke his vow to give Truth her freedom and abide by the New York Anti-Slavery Law.
She left anyway.
“I did not run away; I walked away by daylight,” Truth said.
Truth quickly found a new employer who helped affirm her freedom from a pursuing Dumont. Still, her link to Dumont remained through her 5-year-old son, Peter, whom Dumont sold. The sale, however, was a clear violation of evolving anti-slavery regulations. Truth soon became the first Black woman to successfully sue a white man in a U.S. court.
Truth was a pioneer, said Glover. Connecting with the her progeny’s foundation, Descendants of the Truth, was like a dream come true, Glover said. After her initial overtures for a partnership, it took about a year of negotiating to find an agreement with the nonprofit. More time went by, as Glover asked foundation officials to convince Leisher to be the face of the product. A billboard is featuring Leisher promoting the product is set to go up this week in Michigan.
“I didn’t think they’d ever agree, but I so happy they did,” Glover said. “Part of the proceeds will go to the foundation. They do so much for the community, and they deserve the support.”
Leisher, a makeup artist based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said she hopes the collaboration brings awareness to the foundation headed by her father, Glover’s business and Sojourner Truth.
“When I was younger, I used to feel that not a lot of people knew she existed,” Leisher said of Truth. “And I feel like there are still people to this day who don’t know. That’s why I’m excited about this collaboration, because I think it’s going to bring awareness to this strong Black woman.”
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Born Isabella Baumfree, Truth changed her name in 1843. Her new name was a nod to her newfound Christianity and mission to preach equality above oppression. Within a year, she would meet and join Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists in the equal rights movement. She famously spoke about the lack of rights for Black women at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. helped recruit Black soldiers during the Civil War and gained an 1864 invitation from President Abraham Lincoln to the White House.
“Does not God love colored children as well as white children?” she asked in 1863. “And did not the same savior die to save the one as well as the other?”
In 1867, Truth moved to Battle Creek, Michigan to be near her daughters. From there she worked to link Black refugees and veterans with resources until her 1883 death at the age of 86. Among her efforts was a successful petition to provide freed slaves with government land.
“She was fearless,” Leisher said. “She knew who she was early on, and she fought for herself.”
The business partnership
Glover said the partnership with Descendants of the Truth allowed her to learn even more about Truth’s history of promoting reparations and helping enslaved Blacks find freedom. She said she hopes to partner with other foundations and hopefully a large retailer to further expand her business and awareness of beneficial nonprofits.
Her LaMonique Cosmetics’ line consists of mineral-based cosmetics without parabens or gluten. Glover also sources her products from cruelty-free operations and focuses on organic substitutes for lab-made chemicals. Her lipstick, for example, contains horseradish and lavender.
Each product is designed with Glover’s own struggles with eczema in mind. Glover said she wanted to create makeup that would prevent, rather than just cover, problem skin.
“Once I started reading product labels, I came across a bunch of names I couldn’t pronounce,” she said. “I went down this rabbit hole of all these toxins and chemicals that I found, and I wanted to create something that wasn’t harmful.”
Glover runs her business out of Hasbrouck Heights and has her products tested in Fair Lawn. She uses two small manufacturers for her product designs. One is in New York. The other is based in Florida. She sells most of her products online, though she does have partnerships with small retail stores in Georgia.
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ makeup brand honors Sojourner Truth for Women’s History Month