Ciara Levels Up from Musician to Mogul
With a fashion collection, rum brand, skincare line, children’s book and education-forward foundation, the superstar proves she can do it all
February 28, 2023
When Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Ciara teamed up with acclaimed DC Comics artist Bernard Chang to create Super C, her superhero identity that graces the cover of her album Fantasy Ride, her new persona was seen as a particularly fierce form of creative expression. And while creating a musical alter ego is not uncommon—think Sasha Fierce (Beyoncé), Jo Calderone (Lady Gaga) and, perhaps most iconically, Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)—at no time did Ciara intend for people to view her as an actual superhero.
Still, it is a particularly apt description. Her superpower: an indefatigable energy that enables her to take on the roles of mother, wife, entrepreneur, investor, model, actor, television host, philanthropist, brand ambassador, author and fashion designer. You could say the life Ciara shares with her husband, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, features so many irons in so many fires, it’s a veritable forge.
“I always try to level up,” Ciara tells me. Her many activities reflect not only this philosophy, but also the synergy she has achieved through Beauty Marks Entertainment, a platform for her multiple pursuits. The company’s motto—“The scars that we get from the obstacles we face in life are actually our beauty marks”—came from a moment of introspection when Ciara concluded that she had come so far not simply because of the high points but also the harder moments in her life. “I mean that literally, down to the actual stretch marks on my skin from giving birth to my babies. Those are beauty marks. Altogether, they represent everything. The challenges, the adversity, it all represents the journey. And when you persevere through that journey, it’s really beautiful.”
Her musical label, Beauty Marks Entertainment, is distributed through a partnership with Republic Records and Uptown Records. Not coincidentally, the first album it released was Ciara’s seventh, Beauty Marks. “When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” she says. “My passion gives me the will and drive to keep going because I’m having fun in the midst of it all.”
Ciara and Wilson are part of the ownership group of the champion Seattle Sounders soccer team, and she also serves on the board of the Why Not You Foundation, created by her husband. Dedicated to fighting poverty through education and empowering today’s youth to lead with a “why not you” attitude, the nonprofit has gone on to endow a charter school, the Des Moines, Washington-based Why Not You Academy. “We were those kids who at some point in time dreamed big, who didn’t have much but believed in our dreams,” she says.
“And because of that, we’re fortunate to do a lot of things we dreamed of. So, from my perspective, we have to keep giving back to those who maybe wouldn’t have had an opportunity and create an environment where they can succeed.”
The Why Not You Foundation has also partnered with the NFL Players Association and Goalsetter to donate $35,000 to the students of West Seattle’s Denny International Middle School so they could open savings accounts. During the gift presentation, Ciara and Wilson spoke to the students about the importance of financial literacy. And during the Covid pandemic, the organization donated one million meals to Western Washington’s Food Lifeline. “Ciara’s leadership and creativity are boundless, which is evident through all of her pursuits,” says Wilson. “Working alongside her on the Why Not You Foundation, I have the privilege of seeing her compassion and ingenuity firsthand.”
Last year, Random House released the couple’s children’s book, Why Not You?, written with JaNay Brown-Wood and featuring illustrations by Jessica Gibson. Encouraging kids to see themselves achieving their dreams, The New York Times bestseller is described as “a lyrical celebration of self-esteem, perseverance and daring to shoot for the stars.” “I know I’m working with someone who cares as much as I do,” Ciara says. “We’re really connected to each other, and that makes the process that much more beautiful and powerful, because ultimately we’re doing things together.”
In 2020, Ciara and Wilson launched The House of LR&C, cofounded with veteran retail guru Christine Day. Encompassing the menswear line Good Man Brand, the contemporary women’s brand LITA by Ciara and the gender-inclusive streetwear line Human Nation, The House of LR&C donates three percent of every purchase made to the Why Not You Foundation. (“LR&C” officially stands for “Love, Respect & Care,” but with a self-aware wink it can also be “Love, Russell & Ciara.”) In addition to four dedicated brick-and-mortar stores, the collection is available at Nordstrom, Revolve and Kohl’s, as well as select duty-free and specialty retail stores operated by Hudson. The House of LR&C was created with sustainability in mind and has been established as a Public Benefits Corporation with B Corp certification. “Whether brainstorming concepts for the next collection or generating designs with our team, you can really see Ciara’s strong fashion lens and creative mind come through each of our brands,” says Day. “Her excitement and entrepreneurial spirit translate into everything she does.”
More recently, after spending 10 months breastfeeding her son, Win, Ciara was craving a cocktail, and the libation she chose was a mojito made with Ten To One rum. She was so taken with the quality of the spirit and the expectations-challenging mission of the award-winning Caribbean rum company founded by Trinidad-born Marc Farrell that she invested in it, becoming a co-owner and director.
“Ciara has an incredible amount of entrepreneurial passion, which she’s certainly brought to her engagement with the brand,” says Farrell. “She’s never short of ideas or positive energy. A big part of the spirits industry is predicated on cultivating numerous relationships across the category, and this too is an area in which Ciara is remarkable. She’s a natural connector who makes people feel seen and appreciated, reinforcing the warm values of Ten To One in many ways.” Wilson agrees: “Ciara’s passion for bringing people together in celebration led her to build a successful brand.”
And even with all this success, Ciara is still leveling up. She recently launched OAM (On a Mission), a clinical skincare line formulated for women of all skin tones and types, researched and developed for two and a half years before debuting in September. Acknowledging that clinical skincare can be confusing, she says, “I wanted to bring more awareness and accessibility to the power of clinical products, while making it simple.”
OAM’s Tri-C Pro-Peptide Complex is a proprietary blend of peptides and a trifecta of highly refined vitamin C. The line’s five products, while effective individually, are most efficacious as part of a simple, easy-to-follow regimen (the products are numbered on both the packaging and containers). You might say that Ciara has leveled up her glow up.
Still, she doesn’t hesitate when telling me that her “favorite job of all” is being a mother. “I’m a human before anything. I’ve never thought that I should be limited by the color of my skin or my gender. I’ve simply believed in my vision for what I want to do and how I want to do it. Being a female entrepreneur, you definitely face moments when you have to speak up a little louder and make sure your message cuts through. And I’m always up for that challenge.”
Her schedule continues to be filled with myriad projects. Last year, she was the third musician to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition. In December, she cohosted Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest for the sixth consecutive time. She has released two singles, “Jump” and “Better Thangs,” from her upcoming eighth studio album. And later this year, she will appear alongside Fantasia Barrino, Colman Domingo and Taraji P. Henson in The Color Purple, the Blitz Bazawule-directed big-screen version of the Tony-winning stage musical adapted from Alice Walker’s novel. What advice does she have for future entrepreneurs? “If you believe in something, that’s where it starts, having a vision of what you want to do. Create your plan, think of the ways in which you want to execute it, and write it all down. Then go after that plan, full throttle.” Spoken like a true superhero.