Meet Yana Johnson

CEO & Founder
Yana Cosmetics

Yana Cosmetics is the award winning make up brand founded by Yana Johnson in 2001.

Dr Yana Johnson was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to cosmetics and was the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree for her inspiring work and tenacity in the beauty industry.

Yana recently judged St Matthew Academy’s Fashioning the Future event, challenging the school’s female students to create businesses combining their passion for enterprise and fashion.

What inspired you to start a cosmetic business?
I couldn’t find the right products and look for myself, so I invented them. I was also inspired by my love and passion for branding, marketing and PR within the music and fashion industry.

What educational path did you have to follow to start your business?
I studied for my GCSEs and I achieved a BTec in business and finance and a diploma in book-keeping and music technology. I also have a degree in science and I’ve completed courses in management, leadership and international business.

I love studying, reading and l’m an information geek.

What were you interested in when you were at school?
I was part of a theatre group and my poems were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 by the age of 13.

I was offered a scholarship to the Royal School of Ballet studying tap, ballet and ballroom to gold standard.

I also enjoyed making and selling my own clothes with my sewing machine which was a Christmas gift.

Where did you go to school and what was your favourite subject?
I studied in Birmingham which was very multicultural at the time and still is now. I was very good at everything because my parents made me do a lot of chores but the equipped me for life. I am so lucky.

Have you had any other jobs, apart from running your cosmetics company?
I am a published singer songwriter and I sold 40,000 copies of my first album ‘Bring It On’ in Japan. I have worked in the United States in the music industry and travelled the world.

What or who inspires you?
God always give me unique ideas. I’m inspired by my parents. My father built 13 homes as part of a trailblazing building scheme and my Uncle John does a lot of contract work for the Mayor of New York and many other entrepreneurs such as Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.

I’m also inspired by women who are great, elegant and doing well.

What are your plans for the future?
I am working on my next album and expanding the Yana brand. You can now also book a Yana Makeup party where the host is made up, there are demos and product testing.

* * * *

For more information visit You can also find Yana Cosmetics on Twitter and Facebook.

* * * *

Yana Johnson was interviewed by year 7 St Matthew Academy students Honesty, Angela and Kia-Miami, as part of the Twenty Ten Club Interview an Entrepreneur school programme.

The programme provides the opportunity for pupils of all ages to interview Black female business role models they admire.

For more information on the Interview an Entrepreneur school programme please contact the Twenty Ten Club office on 0207 193 4615 or email

St Matthew Academy in Lewisham, London, is the country’s leading school for enterprise skills. For more information visit

Do you have a question for Yana? If so, please feel free to post a comment below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *