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A Stay-Home Order Is Bad News for Cosmetics Sales. So Paula Hayes, the Chemist Behind Hue Noir, Improvised.

Hayes was at a loss—until her children reported to her that the school district wasn’t supplying hand sanitizer for their bus ride.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

On Zoom, nobody can tell if you're wearing makeup.

That's bad news for cosmetics manufacturers, who saw sales plummet this spring as people stayed home, stayed safe, and didn't put their faces on.

For Paula Hayes, the decline in makeup sales was especially discouraging: As a chemist, she had spent the past several years designing cosmetics for the skin tones of people of color. The result was Hue Noir, a Portland company at the vanguard of equity in cosmetics—which proved a lucrative market.

Or it did, until everyone stopped leaving the house or caring what they looked like. Hayes was at a loss—until her children reported to her that the school district wasn't supplying hand sanitizer for their bus ride.

In this interview with WW editor and publisher Mark Zusman, Hayes explains how that parental check-in led to a product line that kept Hue Noir afloat in 2020.