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Hair · October 4, 2019

Black-owned Beauty and Grooming Brands We Love

More than ever, consumers are holding brands accountable for the lack of diverse and inclusive product ranges and practices.

A lot of change is happening and, moreover, more BIPOC are building brands and products for their communities. Read on to learn more about the Black-owned and founded brands that Birchbox currently works with and carries on Birchbox.com, and for a Q&A with several Black founders in which which we learn more about their thoughts on why they got into the business and what customers (and the beauty industry in general) can do to champion and support them.

Brands available in the Birchbox Shop:

- Nancy Twine and her mother drew on her grandmothers recipes to make their own natural beauty productsand eventually those formulas formed the basis of todays Briogeo line. The brand delivers high-quality, eco-conscious haircare for a wide variety of hair types.

Qhemet Biologics:
- Founded in 2004 by a historian with natural hair, Qhemet Biologics haircare products are made to specifically address the unique attributes of naturally textured African hair.

Camille Rose Naturals:
- Using the highest quality food-inspired ingredients in every product, Camille Rose Naturals nourishes hair, skin, and body both inside and out with no sulfates or animal testing.

Specific Beauty:
- Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, a famed Miami-based dermatologist, created Specific Beauty with a mission to address the unique concerns of those with melanin-rich skin tones. Her MelaTone therapy system tackles dark spots while visibly brightening and evening skin tone and the products are fragrance-, alcohol-, dye-, Lanolin-, and cruelty-free.

Northern Fir:
- Designed by an engineer, Northern Firs premium beard oil has set a new standard for quality, harnessing a unique blend of organic oils in their pursuit of the softest, healthiest beard on earth.

KNC Beauty:
- After a trip to Tokyo, founder Kristen Noel Crawley got hooked on lip masks but was also irked by the number of unnecessary chemicals they contained. Her collagen-infused and rich in hyaluronic acid, they condition and hydrate to give you fuller lips. Its an all natural solution with just seven ingredients.

Brand weve partnered with recently via Kits and Limited Edition Boxes:

- Everything from this eponymous brand is luxe but also cruelty-free and vegan with ethically sourced ingredients like almond oil from Spain and African black soap from Ghana. Each formula is created in small batches and steeped in tradition and indigenous practices but delivers modern results.

Plant Apothecary:
- Plant was formed in 2012 as an opportunity to promote healthy ingredients and social responsibility. Since its inception, the brand has grown to include a full line of unisex, organic skincare essentials.

- TGINs founder, Chris-tia became interested in natural hair care back in 2002 when there were very few products on the market designed for kinky, curly and wavy textures. She wanted to launch her own product line, because very few products on the market actually catered to dry natural hair, and some of the prices were just outrageous.

Mielle Organics:
- Mielle Organics is a hair care and beauty brand that believes healthier ingredients encourage healthier hair and skin.

Oyin Handmade:
- Oyin is the Yoruba word for honey. It was founded in 2001 by Jamyla Bennu, a lifelong naturalista & ingredient-conscious maker, when she couldn't find commercially available natural and organic products for her highly textured, natural hair.

- Alaffia is a common ingredient in West African cultures to communicate a state of peace, health, and well-being. Founded by a couple with West African roots and a passion for social enterprise, the brand was born with a commitment to creating natural products made from fair trade, ethically sourced ingredients.

- Bolden exists to embolden women of color to confidently embrace their natural beauty. Through expertly-crafted, responsibly-sourced, and tailor-made beauty experiences, they deliver on making beauty products that really work well for women of color.

Lauren Napier:
- Lauren is a former makeup artist, beauty minimalist, skincare enthusiast and a Black woman who sees the beauty in removing your makeup and showing off what lies beneath.

Q&A with Lauren Napier, Felis Butler, Chris-Tia Donaldson, Olowo-ndjo Tchala, Chinelo Chidozie, Heather Woolery-Lloyd, and Monique Rodriguez:

Lauren Napier, Founder & CEO of Lauren Napier Beauty
- On her motivation to start a beauty company: I was motivated to create Lauren Napier Beauty because the beauty industry consistently focuses on our deepest insecuritiesacne, aging, sagging skin and wrinkles. Some of the most beautiful people Ive ever seen possess all of the above. Lauren Napier Beauty was created to empower women, men, them and they to embrace the beauty of clean and bare skin.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: If you are a customer, keep shopping, follow the brand online, subscribe to their email lists and give honest and constructive feedback. Stick with the brand, the process of launching a business is not at all glamorous.
- Lauren's favorite product: Flaunt Facial Cleansing Wipes; "These wipes tackle acne, dark spots and dry uneven skin and theyre gentle enough to use on the delicate skin around your eyes and lips."
- The Flaunt Facial Cleansing Wipes are available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The Stay Radiant Complexion Kit.

Felis Butler - Owner of Quemet Biologics
- On her motivation to start a beauty company: I have a master's degree in History so that combined with my hair obsession and frustration with finding natural, effective products to not only to detangle dry, 4C hair but keep it moisturized beyond one day, motivated me to create effective, non-toxic products based on African, Mediterranean and Ayurvedic hair care traditions.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: I think the larger retail chains could improve their localization strategies by inviting input directly from the brands. Currently, the brands that a particular geographical area receives are determined exclusively by the retailer based on their own internal data which can sometimes miss the mark. I also think retailers should do more to extend their outreach into minority digital spaces, especially in relation to smaller brands, to increase brand recognition and help them better compete in a crowded market. For the rest of us Continue to live unapologetically in your own skin, flaunt your natural beauty and embrace your rich history.
- Felis favorite product: Our Amla & Olive Heavy Cream has been our top seller since it debuted over a decade ago and has become a favorite among naturalistas worldwide. Its natural ingredient profile and impressive ability to moisturize very dry, 4C hair beyond one day makes it a stand out product in the marketplace.
- The Alma & Olive Heavy Cream is available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The It's Your Crown Hair Kit.

Jamyla Bennu, Oyin Handmade Mixtress and Creator
- On her motivation to start a beauty company: I wanted healthy, effective products that were good for the environment and good for my hair and skin. So, drawing on my creative background, I researched recipes, purchased ingredients from my local grocery store, and set about to make my own.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: Spreading the word about a product that you like is SO incredibly helpful to small and indie companies. Nothing beats word of mouth.
- Jamylas favorite products: Our Oyin Handmade HoneyWash Shampoo and Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp Conditioner combo are quiet superstars! With hemp seed oil, bamboo extract, and of course the moisture powerhouse honey - they pair well with the Oyin Handmade What The Hemp Deep Moisture Mask to really put your hair's best foot forward.
- The Hemp Deep Moisture Mask is available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The It's Your Crown Hair Kit.

Chris-Tia Donaldson, CEO of tgin
- On her motivation to start a beauty company: My biggest question was how was I going to wear my hair to work? Like so many black women working in corporate America, I was under an immense amount of pressure to straighten my curls in order to be perceived as professional, so I opted to wear a wig to prevent from straightening my hair. Something deep down inside didnt feel right about this, so I started doing research about how to better take care of my hair.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: For consumers, we are here to serve you so continue to engage with us, tell us what's working, what's not, and what is missing from the marketplace so we can continue to create products that meet your needs.
- Product spotlight: tgins Miracle RepaiRx Strengthening Shampoo is free of sulphates, parabens, petrolatum, lanolin and artificial colors. So you can feel really good about removing product build-up without stripping your hair of its natural protection.
- The Miracle RepaiRx Strengthening Shampoo is available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The It's Your Crown Hair Kit.

Olowo-ndjo Tchala - Founder & CEO, Alaffia
- On his motivation to start a beauty company: My mother, Ina Agbanga, was and continues to be a huge influence in my life. She taught me what it means to have a deep sense of responsibility and love for humankind. She also showed me the power that women have. My mothers love and sense of responsibility for others along with the inequities I witnessed her endure became the driving forces behind the creation of Alaffia.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: I love our consumers for choosing Alaffia products because their dollars absolutely have a direct impact on real communities. What I appreciate about consumers and encourage them to keep doing is using their voices to share their experiences, educate one another and have a conversation with us. For retailers, I think having a close partnership with minority-owned businesses is important. That means working with our businesses to understand how we can help each other grow and meet the changing needs of the global consumer.
- Olowos favorite products: Our EveryDay Shea and EveryDay Coconut lines are amazing because they feature two of our key ingredientsunrefined shea butter and virgin coconut oil. These superfoods are sourced by our women-led cooperatives in Togo, West Africa and used to create skin and hair care products that are good for all skin types.
- The Alaffia Coconut Reishi Hand & Body Crme is available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The Stay Radiant Complexion Kit.

Chinelo Chidozie, Co-founder of Bolden
- On her motivation to start a beauty company: Weve both been lifelong beauty enthusiasts (Ndidi and I are childhood friends who ended up marrying brothers, so weve spent a lot of vacations together trying beauty products) and yearned for more fulfilling work; I worked in Finance and Ndidi in Biotech before founding Bolden. We wanted to improve the beauty experience of women of color by making products that tackled their unique beauty concerns.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: Purchasing remains key, but so also is getting people in their circle of influence to support the brands they love. If they like a product, they should not keep it a secret, they should share with friends and blog about it; the more trusted the source of the information is, the stickier and more memorable it becomes.
- Product spotlight: The Bolden Brightening Moisturizer with SPF 30 helps protect melanin-rich skin tones from UV damage without the white ashy cast of a lot sunscreens on the market.
- The Bolden Brightening Moisturizer with SPF 30 is available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The Stay Radiant Complexion Kit.

Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD - Founder, Specific Beauty
- On her motivation to start a beauty company: I needed effective formulas to treat hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone and at the time there was nothing available. I created Specific Beauty to be a simple three-step regimen because, as a dermatologist, I know regimens work best to be effective. Each step was designed with the unique needs of women of color in mind to achieve the best results.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: Social media engagement helps brands build social proof, increase customer confidence, and also increase visibility. I would also love to see retailers expand distribution of brands like Specific Beauty beyond just their multicultural stores. Often times, retailers underestimate the value of this powerful and underrepresented consumer.
- Heathers favorite product: My patients love the Dark Spot Corrector Pads. They love them because they work great for dark spots from acne and also work well for generalized uneven skin tone. And for my patients with melasma, they are a great maintenance product that can be used longterm with excellent results.
- The Dark Spot Corrector Pads are available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The Stay Radiant Complexion Kit.

Monique Rodriguez - CEO and brand founder Mielle Organics
- On her motivation to start a beauty company: My background was in nursing. I was a registered nurse for eight years before I started my own company. I felt that I was in a career that I wasnt supposed to be in. I didnt like going to work every day. I disliked my job. I felt like I was in a box. I wasnt allowed to be creative. I wasnt allowed to do something that I always wanted to do, and that was to be an entrepreneur. I always knew that I wanted to own my own business, I just didnt know that it would be in the realm of the beauty and hair space.
- On supporting Black-owned beauty brands: Social media is like the new word of mouth, but your word of mouth is now amplified. Our customers do it all the time. When they go and buy a product, they post about it on their social media platforms to get their friends talking about it. The more they can get the name out there and talk about us more, thats how they can help us grow. Also, talk about the fact that were black-owned businesses and helping other black people support and recycle that black dollar.
- Product spotlight: Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil; healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp and this oil comes infused with Biotin and 30 essential oils to really help your hair flourish from the root.
- The Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil is available to try in the Birchbox x R29 Unbothered: The It's Your Crown Hair Kit.

Special thanks to Kima Cooper - @elekima, Janell M Hickman - @jmargaretbeauty, and Madeline Howard.


Kima Cooper