Entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency and Ross Elliot of Animal Farm Creative Management orchestrated the deal on behalf of Sir John, its client.
“It means a great deal for me to be welcomed into a small-knit community— a family actually— that holds a great reverence for one team to lean into an inclusive landscape,” said Sir John of CTZN Cosmetics, an award-winning brand of cruelty-free and vegan-friendly cosmetic formulations. “One team to hold space there and make really great products for people to try and come back for, time and time again.”
In his new role for the company, which says its core mission is to enhance cultural awareness through beauty, Sir John will apply his unique and creative approach to help lead product launches and inform future brand growth with what company officials call his “visionary leadership.”
Sir John has also acquired an equity stake in CTZN Cosmetics, Inc., the brand’s owner.
“We are thrilled to welcome Sir John as CTZN Cosmetics’ new chief creative officer,” said Aleena Khan, brand cofounder and head of marketing. “His talent and industry experience will be an invaluable asset to our company as we continue to grow and expand our brand globally. As a fellow champion of diversity, we can’t think of a better partner to join us in our mission of redefining inclusivity in beauty.”
Sir John noted in an exclusive interview with Happi that his appointment to the company, which works to redefine inclusivity, adds a “gorgeous layer” to his self-described beautifully storied career. And, more importantly, being an integral part of the brand is in alignment with his own personal values with respect to diversity.
“We are parallel when it comes to diversity and making sure that we are leaning in with an open ear for change or to mirror a sign of the times, but also to advocate for people who need and want new things,” he said. “Who are empowered by three women founders leading this company into the new millennium.”
It was the brand’s story that what drew him to the role—specifically, the products and their finishes, textures and its “tried and true” tones that “really, really work.”
CTZN Cosmetics was founded by sisters Aleena, Aleezeh and Naseeha Khan, who identify themselves as “third-culture kids,” with diverse backgrounds born in the US, raised in the United Arab Emirates with Pakistani ethnicity. With diversity at the heart of their business, the brand has delivered on its promise to ensure each product allows every citizen in the world to feel seen.
Whether creating a day look with neutral selections from their Nudiversal or Globalm lines to night looks that harken its Code Red Collection— CTZN Cosmetics says it guarantees provision of the most ideal shade for all complexions within every newly-launched collection. Its cosmetics has earned multiple accolades that include Allure Magazine‘s Best of Beauty Awards for the “Best Neutral Lip” for dark skin and medium skin tones and a Pure Beauty Award for the “Best New Lip Product” category.
And its stellar team of professionals is reflective of this success.
For more than 20 years, Sir John has canvased the faces of legendary runway models like Naomi Campbell to modern-day showstoppers like Karlie Kloss and Kim Kardashian, applying his use of color, luminance and inclusive style in the creation of each individual look. As a global artist, he created statement looks while working alongside industry moguls Charlotte Tilbury and Pat McGrath backstage at fashion shows.
“I loved the era when Beyonce was pregnant with the twins. I love the era I grew up in around the models Joan Smalls, Natasha Poly, Karlie Kloss, Jourdan Dunn. Assisting Pat McGrath was really interesting and Charlotte Tilbury. I really enjoy building an office around myself. At one point, I fired my agent and managed myself. And no one can manage you like you manage yourself. I think I continue to push the needle back, and the most successful people do the same as well,” Sir John said.
Working with a medley of high-profile clients has also shaped his skillset, as it taught him a lot about makeup application and the cosmetics that work best on them, from lip and eyeshadow shade to foundation, concealer and translucent powder.
“Everyone’s bag is different,” he said with an easy laugh. “And everyone loves a little less or a little more and those nuances in between create such unique identities that I’m always inspired by.”
He continued, “I think that makeup is a personal choice. It’s a personal journey. It’s a story. Whenever you look at a makeup bag, you should look at it the same way you look at a closet—the same way an interior designer looks at furnishing options— we are all storytellers at the end of the way. And the way you carry yourself. How you put yourself together, your aesthetic or sartorial journey speaks of that. So that story is what inspires me in so many different directions.” (Listen to a clip of Sir John’s interview with Happi below).
When asked to provide makeup application tips, Sir John said that choosing the best foundation comes from knowing your skin type—whether that’s matte, oily, dewy or sensitive—to inform a consumer’s decision.
“We are in a blessed place and a really beautiful place,” he said of current beauty trends, which favor the natural look. “This is the golden age of foundation; this is the golden age of complexion; there are so many technological advances. I also recommend everyone should ‘multi’ foundation. Multi-‘masking’ addresses the different concerns. Dry cheeks, really matte areas in the middle of the face because you produce too much oil… there’s so many different ways to get yourself together. But my goal is to make sure everyone is dialing down the coverage. They’re not using as much foundation as they used to in years’ prior.”
The best tip? For consumers to own their inherent beauty.
“The goal is to shake what your momma gave you. You want to see freckles, you want to see skin. Skinification is popular in making sure that hybrid skin care and foundation runs parallel and is the journey. That’s the work.”
With a name like Sir John, it’s a distinction he’s worked up to. The beauty guru started art school at just 6 years old. His mother, whom he calls his role model, supported his creative pursuits and pushed him to excellence. He secured his first job as a makeup artist at 19, at a time he was struggling to pay rent and went from working at a club to wearing a “big hat.” A true talent, the business was never something of his choosing, rather, a profession that chose him.
“I tried to leave the industry alone, but it was just something that continued to call,” he said. “It pushed me. The reason I love the makeup industry so much is because of the freedom it gives people. And that’s freedom of change and identity and a free license to be who they are, and that’s why I’ve stayed in this business for this long of a time.”
Since holding his hand as she walked him into his first day of art school, his mother continues to be his exemplar.
“She keeps me in check. I like to live a life that I would be proud of. I want to make my grandmother proud, though she’s no longer here. I’m the oldest of three. I need to lead by example.”
CTZN Cosmetics is now available online and in-store at Nordstrom, Thirteen/Lune/JC Penney Beauty compliments of a recent retail expansion in North America. The brand is also available in Europe, Australia and the GCC.