Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” For Immokalee native, Vanessa Billie, her dreams are beauty. Vanessa is a proud Seminole and Mexican woman whose makeup and beauty line, Billiee Beauty, has been featured in national publications such as the Huffington Post and been used on models walking the runways for well-known indigenous designers, and on the faces of performers rocking the stage and streets for music videos.
Vanessa grew up in Immokalee and graduated from Immokalee High School in 2015. During a post-graduation conversation with her mom, she suggested that Vanessa go to school to become a makeup artist because not only did her mom know her daughter’s passion for makeup, but she thought Vanessa was extremely talented and had an eye for color. So, Vanessa jumped at the idea and enrolled at the Academy of Glam in Cooper City, Florida.
She didn’t stop there! Upon graduating she enrolled at the Florida Academy in Ft. Myers to study Aesthetics. It was during her time at Florida Academy that her dreams began to take shape. She knew she loved making women feel beautiful and more
importantly to feel confident using products that did not hurt their skin or the environment.
Elaine Aguilar, who served as Seminole Council Liaison for the Immokalee Community, provided Vanessa with invaluable advice and strength. Vanessa is Seminole and Mexican, and drawing Mexican heritage from her mother, meant that she would not have a clan. Seminoles are matrilineal and clans are birthrights only passed down through Seminole mothers. As a child, Vanessa felt self-conscious and she doubted that she had the right to be proud of her heritage as a Seminole.
Aguilar, a member of the otter clan, told her that she has every right to claim her heritage and to be proud of who she is as a young Seminole woman. Further, she told Vanessa that it is important to learn as much as possible about her culture and traditions so she could pass it down to her own children.
Vanessa credits her mother, Maria, and Elaine Aguilar as being forces of inspiration behind Billiee Beauty. She knew that starting a beauty line was going to be hard but it would be worth it. She made sure to research a line of products that were cruelty-free, mineral-infused and vegan. Her color palette was taken from the vibrant colors of Seminole patchwork, Seminole fire colors (as seen on her logo) and the beautiful skin colors of indigenous people. Vanessa is grateful and humbled by the support her line is receiving and says she absolutely loves her customers, “I didn’t think this would be as big and popular as it is. I love everybody and all the pics they post when they’re wearing my makeup.”
Kimberly Arledge, a loyal customer from the Brighton Seminole Reservation commented, “Vanessa has great products and her liquid lipsticks are my favorite. They are smooth and creamy and not drying at all. Amazing quality!” She even credited Billiee Beauty with making her Valentine’s Day a success! Corinne Zepeda, a tribal member from Naples, swoons, “Billiee Beauty is a pioneer in indigenous owned makeup brands. With names like ‘Earth’ and ‘Aboriginal’ and highlights named ‘Fry Bread and Honey’ her line of products is every indigenous makeup enthusiast’s dream! All of her products are long-lasting and smell
When asked about her goals for the line, Vanessa responded, “I want to grow it as big as I can and I want to be able to sustain a
business that can also contribute and give back to my community.” Vanessa said she hopes to start a charity so she can help the
Seminole Tribe’s Youth Group Home and the hard-working farmworker community in her hometown of Immokalee. Vanessa certainly has taken hold of her destiny and dared to dream. She is a spark of inspiration to all young women.