Growing up with Cystinosis
Millie Clare was born different, but she sees this as her strength to achieve many things in her life. This led her on this journey to create Human Beauty, her own disabled owned brand made with accessibility in mind.
Millie was born with Cystinosis, a rare metabolic condition that only affects around 3,000 people in the world today.
Millie has had to educate doctors about her condition all her life because of the rarity of her illness. Although, she has not let this stop her from becoming a disabled business owner and an advocate for better accessibility.
Cystinosis is an condition that causes cysteine to build up in her cells and that affects her eyes and kidneys. Living with this condition means that she has to take tablets every 6 hours to dissolve these crystals. This has shaped the way she looks at the world and has also pushed her to be everything that she is today.
Millie has always been a very positive person. After being tube fed for most of her life, she was determined to teach herself to eat. So she did! Her hard work paid off and by 18 she was able to eat solid foods.
Millie is around 4 ft 7” and won’t let anyone’s perception of her disrupt the way she thinks about herself. Bullying about her height was common in secondary school. She pushed through the comments and focused on how she felt about herself instead. She found herself through her wardrobe and makeup.
She dyed her hair bright blue in college so she could purposely stand out and now she continues to rock her signature bright pink look. Her love for makeup and fashion is also a way to push back against the box that society wants to put her in so bad!
Power of Makeup
Millie found makeup when her health was at its lowest. When her first kidney transplant failed, she had to stay in the hospital for months, and she turned to makeup to help her through the process. Makeup can help you accept and love yourself even in the darkest times and can be a powerful form of self-therapy.
Millie has been using makeup since her teenage years as a form of self expression and a creative outlet. Makeup, hair care, fashion - Millie found comfort in being able to show her creativity through her appearance.
Millie has sensitive skin, especially around her eyes, so she is always searching for products that are gentle on the skin. Her photophobia (sensitivity to light) causes also her eyes to water a lot, which can affect her makeup. Struggling as well with weak wrists and limited wrist mobility, Millie also has issues opening and using products.
Noticing the lack of beauty products created with disabilities in mind, Millie decided to create her own! This is how the Makeup Therapy Palette was born: a sturdy, easy-to-use, gentle on the eyes and skin, 16 pans eyeshadow palette!
Lack of Representation
Going to university gave Millie the opportunity to discover her love for product development and she used her placement year to become a product development intern for a cosmetic company in London. Her time in the industry got her thinking more about the makeup products that were available to her.
Disabled people, queer folk and other minorities are often forgotten when it comes to launching new beauty products. Most brands exclude these communities from the product development process and from the campaigns.
Millie realised there aren’t many disabled business owners, especially in the makeup industry, while 15% of the world’s population is disabled. A large portion of the world being ignored by the beauty and fashion industries.
From that point on, Millie made it her mission to design accessible makeup products in a market that has lacked the vision to do so. She also started advocating on topics like ableism and discrimination within the beauty community.
Her first product was the Liquid Confidence Mascara, a mascara designed to be easy to grip and to be used vertically and horizontally. Read more about its features in our last blog post “Top 5 Accessible Beauty Products You Need to Know About”.
Being an advocate for accessible design allowed Millie to meet more people in the makeup industry. Danny Gray, founder of War Paint, became Millie’s mentors and gives her guidance on being an entrepreneur in the beauty world.
However, as a disabled entrepreneur, Millie has to deal with more challenges than the average CEO. Living with Cystinosis, she has to spend a lot of time in hospitals, whether that's just for regular checkups or her monthly medication.
Hospitals aren't the happiest place to be and Millie has developed medical PTSD over the years, which is triggered by attending certain hospital appointments and affects her productivity and focus at work.
Despite her triggers Millie has been able to successfully juggle her work and her condition, pushing through the brain fog and successfully building her brand as a disabled CEO.
Millie is building Human Beauty to be THE go to go to brand for bold, fun, and accessible makeup, meeting everyone's makeup needs for years to come!
In 2023, Millie is building a small team of like minded people helping her create inclusive campaigns and content, allowing her to focus on creating more accessible makeup products.
Human Beauty aims to become a safe space for everyone to enjoy makeup, and open up about their experiences, no matter of race, gender, ability, age... Stay tuned to see what happens in the future!