How Jamika Martin’s Acne Struggles Inspired Her to Create Rosen Skincare

September 28, 2020
Sarah Ferguson
By: Sarah Ferguson | by L'Oréal
How Jamika Martin’s Acne Struggles Inspired Her to Create Rosen Skincare

From Accutane to harsh DIY skin-care treatments, Jamika Martin tried pretty much everything to get rid of her acne from the time she was a pre-teen through her college years. It was while she was an undergrad at UCLA that she decided to take matters into her own hands and create Rosen Skincare. The brand stands out from the crowded acne market for its Instagram-friendly packaging, natural yet effective ingredients and overall inclusive and positive vibe. Here, Martin chats with us about the missguided acne advice she received when she was young, how she’d like to see inclusivity in the beauty industry evolve and more. 

Tell us about your acne journey. When did you first start dealing with acne and what did you learn about treating it over the years?

I started dealing with breakouts in sixth grade, so I had to get super acquainted with skin care pretty early on. Skin care was not in the same space as it was today, so the way I was treating breakouts was super drying and stripping. I was always told to avoid oils or moisturizers, and my mom would even have me put rubbing alcohol on breakouts. Aside from the terrible skin-care hacks I tried over the years, I did a ton of esthetician treatments and tried a lot of products and medications. I went on to do Accutane twice, but it didn't do much for my skin. 

Before starting Rosen, what did you feel was missing in the acne skin-care market?

So much! I distinctly remember heading to the acne aisle at Target and seeing literally the exact same products I used on my skin back in middle school. This was at a time when clean and indie beauty was becoming popular, and I remember feeling like folks with acne-prone skin were being left out of the conversation. Where was the cool branding or packaging for us? Where were the founders I could relate to or ingredient lists I could understand or trust? I knew there was work to be done in the space. 

What was the process of creating Rosen like?

I was in my second year of undergrad at UCLA when I had the idea, but it was such an early version, I don't even think it resembles what Rosen is today. UCLA offered an entrepreneurship minor while I was studying there, so during my third year, I took a few courses. It helped me think about Rosen as a scalable business. I ended up graduating early because this idea for Rosen had been taking up more and more of my attention. When I graduated, I went into the Startup UCLA Accelerator and launched the brand.

What does your current skin-care routine look like?

I'm honestly so bad at trying other skin-care products that aren't Rosen. As a formulator, I'll usually make something for myself before I buy another brand. With that being said, my average daily routine looks like:

How are you feeling regarding the beauty industry and the Black Lives Matter movement? How has it impacted your brand?

My feelings are super split on it all. On one hand, I think it's amazing for people to support Black people in all ways, and I'm really happy with all the light that's been shed on those doing so. It's also better late than never, you know? But at the same time, I'd be lying if I said I don't feel some type of way about the outpour of people reaching out to me because a Black man was murdered on camera. I really value organizations that are more dedicated to doing the behind-the-scenes work and fostering conversations internally than those asking me to launch or partner with them just so they have a Black person on their feed or website.

With it all being said, we've seen an enormous amount of support and growth due to it all. The amount of Black founders who have seen this growth and will be so empowered to continue to move conversations forward after all of this is what excites me the most.

What do you hope to see in the beauty industry in terms of diversity, representation and inclusion going forward?

I want behind-the-scenes inclusivity. I don't care about your Instagram feed or influencers you work with if you still can't have a diverse team. When you hire diverse decision makers and movers, diversity flows throughout all of your efforts because everyone is included in the process. When you are aesthetically Black or diverse, it's a forced afterthought instead of just being genuine to the process. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in the beauty industry?

Get started and find people who will respond to your questions! Make relationships with people you think can be beneficial; more times than not, people love giving advice and feeling like an expert. Find those people, so you don't need to recreate the wheel and can get started with a solid foundation.

Finally, what does the future look like for Rosen? 

My goal with Rosen is to truly innovate the mass acne space. I want to change the way we talk about breakouts and how we think about treating them. We don't need super harsh treatments, and we need more education around skin care for an acne-prone customer. We also need so much more positivity around breakouts and scarring because it's all so normal, and the last thing an acne brand should be doing is shaming its customer into a purchase.


Photo: Courtesy of Jamika Martin

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