This Ivy-League, Sudanese Beauty Wants You to Find your Truest Nude Shade
By Brittany Brazil
Within the fashion industry, trends come and go nearly as fast as you can refresh your Instagram feed. But one trend that has stood the test of time is nude-colored fashion. From Spanx to liquid lipsticks, nude products serve both practical and stylish purposes throughout both affordable and luxury brands. Though nudes permeate the beauty and clothing industries there has long been a major gap in the market: accurate shade matching. The retail industry overlooks the vast range of of skin tones when labeling their limited collection “nude.” Nude is not the same color for everyone and Atima Lui is a young woman who is using her entrepreneurial talent to change that.
Atima is a Sudanese-American Harvard business grad and Founder of the company “NUDEST,” one whose mission seeks “to redefine the standard of beauty to match the full range of diversity in women's skin.” The site uses a unique algorithm, “the Nudemeter™” that upon uploading a photo of your hand, matches you to a skin tone number, which corresponds with a collection of items, your own personalized shop. The items to choose from come from a growing database of companies that NUDEST has partnered with companies touting shoes, bras, panties, hosiery, shapeware, and dancewear.
Atima sought to pursue her company upon realizing that products labeled “nude,” didn’t match “84% of the global population.” This is a startling realization given how much the average person interacts with “nude” clothing. She explains, “From hair products to makeup, we've grown accustomed to companies not always meeting our needs as ethnic minorities.” NUDEST is not just about meeting surface level consumer demands, but also about reshaping a greater narrative about the notion of beauty.
Atima founded the company while she was still pursuing her MBA in 2016, one whose success may not only be measured by site traffic, but also through its contribution to changing the traditional beauty standards of the retail industry. Atima’s journey into business and entrepreneurship began with her undergrad education at Washington University in St. Louis where she maintained her own salon focused around multicultural students in the area. She balanced being a business owner alongside a triple major in International Business, Marketing and Spanish. A problem that many young people make is that they spread themselves too thin instead of fully developing a particular interest, but Atima’s commitment to her business surely did not dissuade her academic success, one that led her to an Ivy-league graduate school opportunity at Harvard.
Atima’s path however was not a straight and narrow one. After finishing up her undergrad, Atima met naysayers who argued that without a graduate degree, she could never succeed in marketing. As one door seemed to close, Atima instead of forcing herself to follow another’s path, created her own. She landed a marketing job with Walmart before the MBA even came along. Based on an experience like this, Atima’s advice to passionate entrepreneurs is “There may be paths or a set way of doing things but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right way for you.” Atima did not take no for an answer. When she received one, she found a way to turn that “no” into a “yes.”
Though Atima’s success is a huge example for women pursuing entrepreneurship, her perseverance exemplifies that confidence must be found within. Atima says, “I think I found my greatest moments of empowerment when I’m able to speak positively to myself even when I’m feeling down about something.”