Black Beauty Entrepreneurs on Celebrating Success – WWD

 

Keenan Beasley
Photo courtesy of Sunday II Sunday.

Keenan Beasley, founder & CEO of Sunday II Sunday

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

We’re so young. At 18 months old, people are just coming to understand and appreciate our mission, which, simply put, is to eliminate the compromise that unfortunately is made for women between a great workout and great hair. This idea that we have to compromise our health for beauty is crazy, right? It’s something we wanted to help eliminate. What we’re seeing now is people gravitate toward that call and that desire because it’s something we universally feel is wrong, and we shouldn’t have to compromise. Our health and our beauty, both of those things make us feel really good. So supporting this notion that she can have it all is something we’re founded on and we’ll continue to build. 

Our products are designed to protect your microbiome, let’s just call it your scalp, that’s your barrier protection, the barrier function for healthier hair. We created products to help cleanse, relieve and allow for a healthier scalp in 28 days, and work from there to the ends of her strands.

Sunday II Sunday

Sunday II Sunday
Photo courtesy of Sunday II Sunday

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

What we’ve been able to do is really satisfy the universal piece … the scalp. A lot of the categories are almost divisive, you opt in based on your hair type. We understand that different curl types, different hair patterns have different challenges, but one of the things we all universally want is a healthier scalp. We started with that, and now we’re moving into things that are more customized-based. So, what are some of the challenges that exist with curlier textures, with wavier textures, with protective styles, etc. That’s where you’ll see a lot of innovation coming from us in 2022.

Sharon Chuter

Sharon Chuter
Photo courtesy of

Sharon Chuter, founder, Uoma Beauty and Pull Up for Change

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

As a brand ourselves, we have evolved, but I’d say we’ve stayed consistent with what we are. We have needed to. Other brands have had to retrofit who they are to the current times. The good news for us is that, to be honest, we were controversial at the start.

Last year, what was unique for us in terms of that evolution was moving from the place of being considered a controversial brand, and even for myself, a divisive and controversial person, to moving to a place where you’re now being understood. For us, it’s made it a bit easier to say things, or empower the team to speak up more.

I remember in 2019, posting a Nina Simone clip on our page, and people were so mad at that clip because they thought I was being racist to white people, because Nina Simone said Black people are beautiful. That was an outrage.

I need to make a particular effort to tell my people they’re beautiful because they’ve been told historically that they’re ugly. That’s really amazing for us, in terms of our evolution, to start to really detangle that in a more mainstream way.

For me, that’s been incredible, and for our brand it’s been transformational. That’s why Uoma Beauty is focused on delivering our promises, and even launching Uoma by Sharon C., which was to deliver a promise of inclusivity. All are welcome to my beautiful tribe, and we continue to amplify our beautiful rebellion.

Uoma Beauty

Uoma Beauty
Photo courtesy of Uoma Beauty

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

I’m going to spend more time in front of the brand. Last year, because of everything going on, launching new brands with new retailers and the global logistics crisis — we launched over 3,500 retail points last year — we saw our revenues increase tenfold, which also means we have to have 10 times the team members in one year. Last year was crazy, everything was happening right at once.  I would say I’m driving a Formula One car in a Formula One race, and building the car at the same time.

We didn’t launch many products last year. People don’t realize this, but we only did the “Coming 2 America” launch in March, and that was it. There was nothing else that came out the whole year. This year, y’all are getting launches every single day. I’m now going back to doing the things I truly love, which is storytelling the product development, engaging with the tribe.

This year, what people can expect from me is innovation in a year where a lot of people are not innovating because of the global logistics climate, and changing consumer taste. This year, we’ll come to the forefront, we have some incredible ambassadors we’re going to announce later in the year. We have some new retailers, especially in the U.K.

Last year, we sort of focused on setting up the fundamentals, and now we’re in a place where we, as a year, we’re going to have over 3,600 distribution points. And then, serving all types of retailers, now including mass. It’s a huge undertaking, but we used last year to get it together.

Chris Collins

Chris Collins
Photo courtesy of Chris Collins

Chris Collins, founder, World of Chris Collins

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

Our launching into Sephora is definitely up there. Just in general, being able to enter into a category in beauty, where I’ve become the first in many situations. When it comes to the first Black male, the first Black fine fragrance brand owner, for that particular retailer and in the world of perfume where there were very little and not many Black founders. To be the first, it’s all been an incredible journey.

The whole purpose is to lay the groundwork so even though you’re the first, you’re not the last. It’s been an incredible journey, and I have a responsibility to carry those with me who never saw themselves being or working with retailers the way that I am. Being able to launch my brand all over the world and different countries, it’s been an incredible journey.

Chris Collins

World of Chris Collins
Photo courtesy of World of Chris Collins

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

I’d like to expand with my products, and what that will be and what it will look like is still in the works. Then, to build more relationships. There’s still more countries to launch in, there’s still more business to make. I’d like to build my direct-to-consumer business, and make my website even more user-friendly.

One of the things that I love about being able to own my brand outright is that I get to launch what I want, when I want, and I get to know I have so many fragrances in the works.

Beauty is all about, especially in fragrances, newness. That’s the exciting part. You know, I have hundreds of fragrance ideas to launch. But of course, I can’t launch them all at once. So yeah, there’s new opportunities, new retailers, all the time. New boutiques all around the world are reaching out because they hear about the brand. We’re growing pretty fast and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, this year, we even double in size. You never know, but we’re on track to do really well.

Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton

Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton
Photo courtesy of Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton.

Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, founder, Rose Ingleton MD

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

I’m still in the space of being a little shocked at how far I’ve come. It’s been such a thrill and so surprising that I was able to launch a skin care brand right before a pandemic, continuing working as a full-time dermatologist, and being able to reach such a wide audience in such a little bit of time.

I created the line for it to be something that was going to be universal for all skin types. But realizing now that it’s even reached a broader audience than I ever thought was possible before — I mean, eight major retailers in less than two years — and that that has given me more opportunities, more visibility to this brand.

I’m still surprised by the celebrities and the sophisticated skin care buyers using it. These people have the world at their fingertips for where they choose from, and that they’ve selected my brand and have given such great feedback. I can’t tell you how gratifying that all has been.

Ingleton MD

Ingleton MD
Photo courtesy of Ingleton MD

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

The biggest partnership that I’ve built over the last year now is with Sephora. We have a really strong partnership, so what I’m looking forward to the most is growing that partnership in the year ahead. They’re so eager to work with me and to show their true support of a Black-owned, woman-owned brand. It’s to help build awareness that they have the wherewithal, the money, and everything to make that happen.

I want to do more of what we’ve been doing in the past year. We’ve done digital videos, all of this stuff that gets my story out there. I definitely want to do more of that, I’m certainly going to be creating new products to answer the needs of patients that I haven’t yet tackled yet.

I want to increase the accessibility of the products by launching mini kits, that I’m going to do later this year. More people can get their foot in the door, if the price point is not where it would be for everyone. Everybody will be able to afford the mini kits. I want to continue to create opportunities with other entrepreneurs of color to ensure that there’s even more inclusivity, and more visibility of what we’re doing, and what we can do together.

I’m really pleased that, for example, the 15 Percent Pledge exists. I know that I was knocking on the doors of many of these retailers when I had just launched the line, and I wasn’t getting a response. The retailers are, apparently following through what they promised, and that is to get more Black-owned brands on the shelf to better represent the way the population at large is.

I’m just happy that I launched when I did, because the story might have been very different if I launched three years ago, as opposed to late 2019. The increased visibility, the increased awareness, the continued support: that’s what I’m looking forward to seeing continue.

Dorion Renaud

Dorion Renaud
Photo courtesy of Buttah Skin

Dorion Renaud, founder and CEO, Buttah Skin

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

The evolution was growth — I had no idea it would grow so quick, I had no idea people would take to the brand and really love it. Keeping up with what the audience needed, what our Buttah lovers needed, and also staying balanced and providing attention to our core products. Last year was really about growth in retail. That came so quickly for us, we were an e-commerce brand and we quickly transitioned into retail, so really learning the retail space.

Last year I got an opportunity to go to a few Macy’s locations, and I would say the pinnacle point for me was being the first Black founder, especially as a male in Macy’s, in beauty, who owns his company. That was incredible. I questioned it — I was like, is this real? This can’t be real, you guys are not serious. I realized that not only was I breaking down barriers, my company was breaking down barriers.

Going from e-commerce to retail, if that’s your goal, it’s a totally different journey than just selling direct-to-consumer. You have to cater to these retailers, cater to their audiences. A lot of growth, a lot of learning, a lot of new creativity — we’re expanding Buttah Media, so not only are we doing skin care, we’re mixing skin care with entertainment, music and culture in general.

Buttah Skin

Buttah Skin
Photo courtesy of Buttah Skin

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

I’m really excited about our partnership with iHeartMedia. That’s a big partnership for us right now where we are engaging with their audience, doing personalized ads with the hosts, I’m going to all the shows, I’ll be hosting some things for them, I’m. hosting my own podcast Better by Buttah — we get to reach a new audience with that platform.

We’re also going to be launching some new products in the next few months — we’re coming out with an antiaging line which is going to cater to our audience, which is a large audience over 50, who likes to age gracefully. We are expanding into more men’s products this year, and more gadgets and we might be going into some items for the home.

Ron Robinson

Ron Robinson
Photo courtesy of Ron Robinson

Ron Robinson, founder and chief executive officer, BeautyStat

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

When I first launched the brand, I had a lot of big, big expectations, thinking it was going to be massive. But I didn’t know how it would get there. Then it was launched, we got some pickup, some retail placements, such as Violet Grey. It started to get a life of its own, where consumers were reaching out to us and looking for us, trying us and seeing results, then telling their friends.

This cult popped up in more channels, more cities, more pockets. Then we started to reach this place where we started, at the cusp of cult-status, and now with our partnership with Ulta Beauty, are potentially going to be a really big, mainstream brand. That’s been the most pleasantly surprising evolution of the brand over the past year.

BeautyStat

BeautyStat
Photo courtesy of BeautyStat

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

Ulta is the number-one priority for us right now. That’s going to be the big growth engine for the brand. We just want to go out and crush it, we want to show consumers that we have a great product, great brand, and a lot of great innovation to come. We’re a cosmetic chemist-founded brand, we know the technology, know the ingredients, we’re backing up our claims with solid independent testing, clinical results, high performance and educating consumers. We’re able to help answer the biggest skin care needs. That’s going to be our mission: the education, the awareness, getting people to try us.

We have a couple of innovations that are coming late this year, I can’t exactly say what those are right now, but they could potentially be bigger than our top selling sku right now, the Universal C Skin Refiner.

Tisha Thompson

Tisha Thompson
Photo courtesy of LYS Beauty/MARCUS EZELL

Tisha Thompson, founder, LYS Beauty

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

It’s been an amazing year. My goal initially, when I launched the brand, in having my own brand, was to be able to inspire others. Basically, the things I struggled with and why I wanted to start the brand: to live as and love their most authentic self. The journey this past year really has professed.

It’s been incredible to really see all the love and, honestly, all the support. It’s super humbling. I think it’s really great that people are embracing our brand mission. For me, I really wanted to diversify clean beauty, that was my goal. But I also wanted to make a positive impact in other people’s lives. And I think our community of “Confident Queens,” that’s what I call them, have been nothing but supportive and it’s been incredible to see how many followers, fans and supporters of the brand that we’ve gotten along this past year, and just all the positive feedback.

LYS Beauty

LYS Beauty
Photo courtesy of LYS Beauty

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

Our biggest opportunities, for me, are being super, super laser-focused and prioritizing our growth this far at Sephora. We were fortunate enough to expand in Sephora quite earlier than I was expecting from a brick-and-mortar perspective. We established the relationship as an online-only business, and then quickly, due to great out-of-the-gate success, shifted to an in-store model. We went into 200 stores back in September. Again, with the continued success, we’re expanding into more stores in February.

That expansion as well as new products being added into stores is really exciting, and that’s where I’m really looking forward to evolving more with support, growing more in that relationship and continuing to build our business. Hopefully, one day, we will be a household name for many.

You’re going to see a lot of amazing things come, too. We are launching more complexion with a new concealer coming, which is exciting. We are launching, or will venture into, lip and eye categories, and maybe some additional skin products in the future as well.

We’re really excited about the trajectory for the brand, and we are expanding globally as well. We launched a relationship with Cult Beauty in the U.K., so we’re just continuing to expand, and having a more global footprint is my ultimate goal.

Whitney White

Whitney White
Photo courtesy of Melanin Haircare/V. L. Kaiser Photography

Whitney White, cofounder, Melanin Haircare

Beauty Inc: What has been the most uplifting aspect of your brand’s evolution over the past year?

What gives us the most pride is how our internal company has grown so much. We’ve been able to hire more employees to help with the day-to-day to get more time for the creative process on my sister and I.

We’ve been able to expand, that’s been amazing. International expansion is in the works, so that’s something we’ve been working on a lot. This past year was a year of internal growth for us, we had a lot of it because we’re growing so fast as a company. The growth happens.

Since our company has a huge social footprint, our growth has been really huge and it’s been really amazing, so that has led to a lot of internal growth, too, which took the whole year. We’ve done a really good job ad positioning ourselves internally, as well as expanding into new retailers this past year. We’re looking forward to this upcoming year, focusing on more product expansions, which is going to be great.

Melanin Haircare

Melanin Haircare
Photo courtesy of Melanin Haircare

Which business opportunities are you focused on in the year ahead, and why?

Reaching our international consumers. We have worldwide shipping right now, but obviously, shipping can get costly if you’re not in the U.S. It’s a very U.S. business. We’re always looking for ways to reduce costs for our customer, and really looking to get into international. Whether that’s retailers or dropship, however we can do that while reducing costs.

Currently, we’re in Ulta and Sephora, so we really love the boutique beauty landscape and we’re looking to do something similar overseas. You know, we are a luxury product, even though we’re affordable. We’re luxurious and high quality, our products and ingredients. It’s so good, and we really pride ourselves on being high quality.

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