Whether it's dealing with makeup that’s too muted or a hair product that doesn’t work with a specific texture, real-life beauty problems can lead to the start of a truly great business. In honor of Black History
Month, we're highlighting six companies that are breathing new life into the beauty industry while solving problems for women worldwide. Click through to learn how they're doing it.
The Problem: Jihan Thompson and Jennifer Lambert have been best friends since they were nine-years-old — and have struggled to find hairstylists who were experienced in styling textured hair. “It’s been difficult for women of color to find hairstylists who are adept at working with curly, kinky, [or] coily hair because working with these hair types is not routinely taught in beauty school,” Thompson says. “We saw this enormous space in the market and decided to create a solution for women like us.”
The Solution: Swivel Beauty
, an end-to-end discovery and booking platform for women of color to find the best hairstylists for their hair type and texture. It’s a win-win business model: Consumers are hooked up with vetted stylists, and stylists’ chairs get filled with new customers. “Every time we help a customer have her best hair day, we feel like we’re delivering on what we set out to do,” Thompson explains. “We’ve also been able to boost our stylists’ businesses between 20-30 percent, which is so gratifying.”
The Problem: Cashmere Nicole was fed up with brands that didn’t cater to everyone. Period. “You serve all, or you serve none,” she says. She noticed an under-served market in the makeup space in everything from tutorials to models to products, and was inspired to do her part to affect change.
The Solution: Beauty Bakerie
, a cosmetics brand that creates inclusive products for all women. They’ve taken the guesswork out of finding buys that were designed to work with dark skin tones, and include undertone matching in their face products (a full foundation line is in the works!). “I refuse to launch a product that does not take everyone into consideration,” Nicole explains. “From those with very dark, almost black skin to people with porcelain skin, we represent the world.” Their website features diverse models and makeup artists leading the tutorials, so everyone can identify with someone.
The Problem: Fueled by a lack of representation in the industry, Nigerian-born sisters Abby and Ivie Omoruyi knew it was time to create a solution to a problem they were experiencing firsthand. “It wasn’t until we both decided to go natural with our own hair that we saw the difficulties in finding products for our kinky texture,” says Abby. “The glorification of European beauty can exclude women of color, which leads many companies to focus on what they see as the standard of beauty,” she tells us. “Having coiled texture ourselves, we understood the difficulties in finding natural, effective products that actually catered to tightly-coiled hair.”
The Solution: Catherine Marion
, a one-stop-shop for women of color with natural hair. “Our company offers organic products for kinky hair and handmade, protective styled wigs that feature natural texture,” Abby says. “Our line of natural hair products replaces harmful chemicals found in commercial products with earth-based ingredients that are significantly healthier.”
The Problem: Yve-Car Momperousse had to suffer a hair nightmare to be inspired to start a company. She'd had her hair straightened at the salon, and was devastated when it all fell out the next day from extreme heat damage. She needed a product that catered to her texturized hair. “It dawned on me that my mom used Haitian castor oil on my hair and skin growing up because it solved every problem,” Momperousse says. “I ran to the store in search of the oil only to find castor oil refined with bleach, hexane, and other additives.”
: Kreyol Essence
, a company that brings 100 percent natural and ethical beauty products from Haiti to the world. “Our product formulations, which contain our signature Haitian castor and moringa oils, are designed to hydrate curly hair and dry skin,” Momperousse explains. “We are proud that exporting and formulating these products in Haiti has helped create work for over 300 farmers and women.”
The Problem: Tristan Walker was fed up with the lack of quality products for people of color — from razors to hair products. “I started Walker & Company Brands because, quite simply, I saw that people of color deserve a better experience when it comes to buying health and beauty products,” he explains. “I remember going into a store and looking for a hair product and feeling like a second class citizen — the product I wanted was buried in the back of the shelves and had dust all over it, and the packaging looked outdated.”
The Solution: Walker & Company Brands
, a company aimed at simplifying and elevating health and beauty for people of color. Both companies under the Walker & Company Brands umbrella solve day-to-day problems: Bevel
offers people with curly or coarse hair irritation-free shaving solutions and FORM
is all about serving up products to girls with curls (of all
types). People of color make up a majority of the employees at Walker & Company too, which helps the brand have an innate understanding of issues related to representation in the industry and enables it to address these issues properly.
The Problem: As a South Sudanese refugee, Neveen Dominic experienced bullying because of the color of her skin. “Throughout my time in Sudan, I was shamed for the color of my skin and many of my peers resorted to skin bleaching,” Dominic tells us. She struggled to find cosmetics that complemented and enhanced her deep skin tone, instead of covering it up or lightening it.
The Solution: Neveen Dominic Cosmetics
, a brand that embraces multifaceted beauty by making diverse shade-range cosmetics accessible for women. “I created Neveen Dominic Cosmetics to empower women and help them look and feel flawless,” Dominic tells us. “I wanted to create a brand that embraced the beauty of darker skin tones.” Her line offers foundations with rich, deep shades that are lightweight yet still highly
pigmented — finally.
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(Photos via brands; featured photos via Catherine Marion)