Social media influencer and entrepreneur Courtney Shields launched DIBS in September to give women of all shades a clean, versatile beauty option.
By Fiza Kuzhiyil, Photos courtesy of DIBS
In fifth grade, Courtney Shields started dishing out beauty advice on the school bus. By high school, she was cutting people’s bangs in art class and dutch braiding hair for the whole volleyball team.
“Eventually, I decided to start my blog and my socials and it grew from there. I love helping women feel beautiful, and that started [with]recommending products and showing tutorials and all that. Then it really evolved into creating products.”
Courtney Shields Launches DIBS
For nearly seven years, Austin-based social media influencer and entrepreneur Courtney Shields has shared beauty advice on her blog and her Instagram, which now has over 990,000 followers. Now, Shields unveils her own beauty collection, Desert Island Beauty Status (DIBS). A brand that works to empower women in their own skin.
“It blew all my expectations out of the water,” Shields says about her September launch event. Her friends and colleagues attended the brand launch, but the guest of honor for Shields was her four-year-old daughter.
“I always tell her, ‘This is our brand. You helped me with this,’” Shields says. “She always gets really excited.”
DIBS for the Kids
Throughout the product creation process, Shields reveals that her daughter sat beside her as she attended meetings from home or swatched products on the back of her hands. With a Leaping Bunny-certified company, she felt comfortable letting her daughter play with the products.
“I never worry about her actually applying the products on her skin, which, as a mom, is one of the reasons it was really important to me to create a clean brand,” Shields says. “I wanted a brand where your kids could do that if they wanted to, and it wasn’t gonna freak you out.”
Motivated by what she saw as a lack of clean products that performed well, Shields worked to make her products free of parabens and toxins, while still maintaining a high quality.
Courtney Shields Embraces Her Beauty
Besides making clean, reliable products, the main focus of the brand is about helping people, especially women of color, feel beautiful in their own skin. Growing up as a Lebanese girl in Austin, the people around her boasted their blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin. With her full eyebrows and varied features, she felt different than her peers.
“It took me a long time to embrace those things because [they were]different than everyone else,” says Shields. “Then later in life, they became my favorite things about myself.”
Reflecting on these experiences, Shields followed her desire to help women enhance their own natural features rather than chasing trends in the beauty market. She says this is how to surpass unfair beauty standards that expect women to change things about their natural features.
Leading her online presence using these principles, she’s built a community over her years on her social media platforms. As an influencer who started out years before the social media boom, Shields reveals she didn’t set out to make money.
“I went three years without making a single dollar doing this. And I was obviously working full- time at the time. But you really just have to love it because it’s a hustle for sure. People don’t realize that.”
Though she shares her life online and created a social media brand, when it came time to make her beauty brand, she didn’t want to name it after herself.
“I wanted the brand to not be about me,” Shields says. “I’m one of the founders of the brand, but I really wanted the brand to live beyond just me eventually.”
DIBS: The Holy Grail Beauty Product
The name Dessert Island Beauty Status came from Shields’ desire to create an all-inclusive product that could be a “desert island” or a “Holy Grail” product.
“If I was going to be stranded on a desert island and I only got to bring three products, what am I packing? That’s what we set out to create,” she says.
For example, the blush and bronzer duos can be used for their namesake purposes. Or she even likes to use them as a lip color or an eyeshadow. The versatility of the product, Shields says, is what makes it stand out from other brands.
Though DIBS just started this year, Shields says the team has the next year planned out. And there are more products soon to come. As she creates these new products, Shields reveals a love of browsing the feedback from customers on Instagram.
“I’ve gotten messages from people who are makeup artists and experienced makeup users that love it,” Shields says. “Then I’ve gotten feedback from women who are like, ‘I had five minutes to get ready this morning. I don’t usually wear makeup, and this made me feel pretty. I love [that]it took me two seconds. The fact that we accomplished the goal that we set out to accomplish has been cool.”
Find out more about Desert Island Beauty Status: