Boldness earns double major coveted beauty industry job

This is a story about how a national cheer competition, a simple compliment and a bit of chutzpah garnered Kaitlyn Bullentini the opportunity of a lifetime – a plum job in the beauty industry.

It all began when Bullentini was a senior in high school, shortly after her cheer team won Nationals. Shan Berries, a local radio station reporter, interviewed her about the competition, and during their conversation, Bullentini complimented Berries’ makeup. That’s when Berries told Bullentini she had started her own cosmetics company. It was a fateful moment.

About a year later, as the pandemic hit in her first year as an advertising and public relations double major at the UO School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), Bullentini remembered that connection and decided to reach out to Berries’ company, Shades by Shan, about any opportunities they might have for her.

product shot of coral lip kit by Shades by Shan on a textured coral background
Kaitlyn Bullentini helped with the product development of Shades by Shan’s Kait Matte lip set, which was named after her. Photos courtesy of Kaitlyn Bullentini.

Networking and bold approach pays off in beauty industry job

Shades by Shan, a Latina-owned cosmetics company in San Francisco, was just starting up. The company’s small dedicated team admired Bullentini’s drive and agreed to bring her on as an intern.

Today, Bullentini works as a marketing and influencer-relations assistant at Shades by Shan. The company has expanded to over 600 JCPenney stores across the country, and its products are featured in subscription box services, such as IPSY and BoxyCharm.

“I thought it was just going to be a little three-month summer internship maybe, and it turned into my whole career, just based off of that one connection,” Bullentini said. “So I think it really attests to how powerful networking is.”

She also attributes her success to her initiative. “The power of being bold and reaching out can really set you apart,” she said. “They loved that about me. They loved the drive to see the opportunity and be like, ‘I’m going to go for it.’”

Naming products is an interesting aspect of her role

product shot of two eyeshadow palettes by Shades by Shan in dark dramatic lighting
Kaitlyn Bullentini helped name and design the After Dark and High Rise eyeshadow palette for Shades by Shan.

As part of her role, Bullentini helps create communication and marketing strategy for social media, email and SMS marketing. But what she really loves is her work on the development side, testing products and helping to name them, a process that has interested her since childhood.

“I remember when I was little and I would go get my nails done or I would go look at makeup in the store, I would be, like, ‘Why is it named that?’ when looking at the shade name,” Bullentini said. “It’s interesting to now be the person who gets to help name the shades and create the story that goes behind the shades.”

When naming cosmetic products, Bullentini said she and her team start by creating the overall vibe of the palette. For the eye shadow palette After Dark, for example, they chose a date-night, sultry theme for each shade. But with the eye shadow palette High Rise, they went for more of a luxurious feel.

Often, products are named after people on the team or after Shan Berries’ relatives, Bullentini said. “I have a lip kit named after me, called Kait, and other people on the team have products named after them. Our highlighter palette is named after Shan’s aunts and family members. There are a lot of really cute touches like that. I really like how personal the brand is.”

Kaitlyn Bullentini leans against a red telephone booth in London
In summer 2023, Bullentini attended the PR and Ad in London study-abroad trip, which took SOJC students to agencies around the UK to explore international public relations and advertising.

Company mission to give back is a huge part of the appeal

Along with the cosmetic products, Shades by Shan also has a nonprofit called The Mamaberries Nonprofit Foundation, which donates a portion of all sales to support single parents in need. The idea that brands can communicate about more than just products is what drew Bullentini to the SOJC to major in advertising and public relations.

“I feel like the curriculum has a very good balance between being creative but also having that academic structure,” Bullentini said.

While at the SOJC, Bullentini went on the PR and Advertising in London trip — a study-abroad program that focuses on global strategic communication. Her boss Shan and her desire to bring an international perspective to her work inspired her to go on the trip.

“It was very fascinating to see what PR, advertising and marketing are outside of the U.S.,” Bullentini said. “Because that’s something that we don’t really talk about here, and there’s no better way to experience it than to go there and actually see it.”

After graduation in the spring, Bullentini said she will start working full time for Shades for Shan. She said she feels lucky to work with a team that is so supportive, and she’s grateful to have been there from the beginning.

“We were so small when we started, and it’s so rewarding to see it expand,” Bullentini said. “I’m really interested in seeing where this company will go in the next 5-10 years, and I want to be a part of that, so, of course, I’m going to continue to work there.”

And she loves it not just for the work they do, but for the mission as well.

“It’s definitely been a very rewarding brand to work for, knowing that the work I’m doing goes to something bigger than myself,” she said.

—Ella Norton, public relations ’24

Ella Norton (she/her/hers) is a fourth-year student majoring in public relations and French from Kansas City, Missouri. She is the executive print editor for Align magazine and an account supervisor for Allen Hall Public Relations.