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Just Do It: How to Support Black-Owned Beauty Brands, According to 13 Founders

Looking back over the last 365 days, I can hardly believe all that’s transpired. From a global pandemic to countless layers of social unrest and the spark of a movement that’s seen Black folks and allies taking to the streets in the name of justice, it’s as if a decade of events have been crammed into a short and extremely tense period of time. If you’re feeling depleted, unfocused, or just plain unsure how to move forward, please know that these feelings are totally normal. But please also be aware that the work has only just begun.

For Black creators in the beauty space, this sentiment isn’t new. As members of a devastatingly underrepresented group, these founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and dreamers know better than just about anyone that working harder to see baseline results is simply part of the Black experience. However, the true marker of success is the ability to push past the hardships and even use them to reach the sweet spots that can only be unlocked with untethered creativity, unapologetic authenticity, and relentless hard work.

Despite all the challenges presented over the last year, Black-owned beauty businesses are on the rise. Movements like the Fifteen Percent Pledge and Pull Up for Change have challenged brands and retailers to really look at their structures and make tangible changes to the way they approach diversity, inclusion, and equity. Now, it’s your turn to show up. The black squares on Instagram were nice, but the time has come to put all that we’ve learned over the last year into action. Ahead, 13 Black beauty founders share their stories and their visions of how the support of Black-owned beauty businesses will grow and thrive in the years to come. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Abena Boamah, founder of Hanahana Beauty

Describe yourself in three words

Enjoyment, intuitive, flexible.

What does beauty mean to you?

To me, beauty means a lot of things. Right away what I connect it with is love for self and being able to take time to care for yourself. Beauty to me, in scope, is self-love—intentional self-love.

What inspires you to create in the beauty space?

There’s so much opportunity and space to actually create. There’s so much room and space to take up. I think that’s very inspiring. There’s a lot of room to take up in this beauty space when you think about connecting sustainability in a very holistic way, especially when it comes to talking about Black women, globally. There’s so much opportunity for Black women, especially, to create and innovate.

What are some of the emotions that have come up for you as the plight of Black Americans has moved to the forefront of the collective consciousness over the last year & how have these emotions helped or challenged you personally and/or professionally?

A lot of different types of emotions have definitely come up for me from levels of frustration to the point of hope, and also sometimes levels of hopelessness. But realizing how Hanahana has this platform where we can talk about issues or be a place where people can come to laugh, or even to just take time for calm or be inspired in beauty has been really exciting for me; to know that we have that platform that we can utilize it in that way. It’s definitely challenging at moments to even do work. We are a staff of Black women from running our social page to the women that are creating the products, so, everything that is going on is always affecting us. We just try as hard to take time for ourselves.

How can allies be helpful now, as it pertains to Black-owned beauty businesses? What actions would you like to see, beyond performative social media posts?

Buying power is one of the biggest ways. Allies can obviously be helpful by actually purchasing products, sharing, and giving resources and opportunities. I think when it comes to the beauty space, there is so much opportunity, but at times it doesn’t even seem like it’s feasible to scale when you’re a small business, especially a Black-owned business. You don’t even see the opportunities in scaling in a way that is for us. Continuing to create opportunities where people are receiving resources to scale like vendor engagements or intros and all those different types of things. I think that’s how allies in the beauty space can really help. And I think there are a lot of allies that are doing that, too, but, it definitely has to go beyond social media posts. Social media is not the sustainable income for Black beauty businesses, so it’s important to put your money where your mouth is.

Shop Hanahana Beauty:

“I created these shea butters for comfort and, honestly, to not be ashy and just feel good. When I put on shea I feel like I’m doing something for myself; I feel like I’m taking care of my body. I know I’m moisturizing and I know I’m feeding my skin good things.”

“The Black and Brown Exfoliating Cleanser is a necessity and, honestly, you must have the Exfoliating Body Bar ($22). So… you just must have all the things. I would not live without any of them.”

Beatrice Dixon, co-founder and CEO of The Honey Pot Company

Describe yourself in three words.

Communicative, aware, present.

What inspires you to create in the beauty space? 

I want to be the brand that inspires vaginas. The sheer fact that I have the opportunity to do so is what inspires me.

What are some of the emotions that have come up for you as the plight of Black Americans has moved to the forefront of the collective consciousness over the last year, and how have these emotions helped or challenged you personally and/or professionally?

Well, it’s beautiful to see the respect, attentiveness, and action toward the plight, but the mere fact that it has just now come into the forefront perplexes me because it’s always been here. Really, what it has done for me is show me that I must live on a high vibration and see things as they are. I think what’s important is that we come to this with what we have learned over the last 400 years and not what we have just started to pay attention to and learn in the last year. The construction of race was meant to keep us having this exact conversation… The good news is that this plight has awoken the world, especially here in the states. So many companies are putting humans and capital behind solving for the lack in our systems that created so much inequity, and it’s beautiful to be a part of that change in the world.

What actions would you like to see beyond performative social media posts? 

I don’t need anyone to prove anything to me. The only action that is the right one to see and feel is the one that’s real.

What advice do you have for Black humans who want to effect change in the beauty industry as you have?

Know that you are capable of anything, even if it’s creating the next billion brand. But understand that if you choose to do that, then you should not be given a medal, and you are not extraordinary for creating such a thing. You are simply doing what you choose to do. I do not wish to make it sound like a simple thing to do, but I think it’s important to kill the stigma and ego that come with that.

Shop The Honey Pot Company:

“They work for every part of the body, and I am a clean freak!”

“They protect me when I need them most, and they also help my vagina to feel calm while it’s doing its work.”

Dorion Renaud, founder and CEO of Buttah

Describe yourself in three words.

Driven, caring, passionate.

What inspires you to create in the beauty space? 

I’m inspired by every Black and brown face around me. I’m also driven by the impact Buttah is creating in our community by increasing visibility of us in the beauty industry.

What is an accomplishment or goal you’ve achieved over the last year, big or small, that makes you feel most proud?

I can’t point to one thing because the past year has been so transformative, but a few that come to mind include the Los Angeles Times article we were a part of back in September and the launch of Buttah Body. I’m a Texas native, but I’ve been in L.A. for over a decade, and to be recognized by a city that I love and now call home means the world.

What are some of the emotions that have come up for you as the plight of Black Americans has moved to the forefront of the collective consciousness over the last year, and how have these emotions helped or challenged you personally and/or professionally?

The first thing I feel is pride. I have always seen the strength, the beauty, and the perseverance of Black people. The pain and inhumanity of racial injustice hurt, but it motivates me to continue to build a brand that empowers and uplifts our community.

How can allies be helpful now, as it pertains to Black-owned beauty businesses? What actions would you like to see beyond performative social media posts?

It’s simple: Support us. Give us access to the same opportunities that our white counterparts have when it comes to starting a business, access to funding, and share resources.

Continue reading here\ whowhatwear

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