Melody Bockelman, owner of Private Label Insider (a cosmetics and personal care industry consultancy connecting beauty brand leaders with the manufacturers that best suit their needs and budgets), put the event together to create a space where Black beauty business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can “advocate for ourselves,” as she told speakers and attendees at last Wednesday’s Beauty Entrepreneurship Community Roundtable.
She explained further, in comments shared with Cosmetics Design that, “I saw in my community and clients a need for a place to share and express our experiences as Black-owned beauty brands, suppliers and retailers. Historically, we have not had a platform to tell our stories, our journey and brilliance in the beauty space; and I wanted to create a space for Black entrepreneurs to be heard.”
A Zoom full of beauty entrepreneurship experts
Early in Wednesday’s discussion, Yve-Car Momperousse, CEO and Founder or Kreyol Essence, quipped, now “is an opportunity for your brands to grow, when people’s hearts and minds are open.” And that’s very much the context in which Brockelman saw this first roundtable event.
“My primary objective,” she tells Cosmetics Design, “was to start the conversation and create an environment where as a community we can express ourselves, our business needs and collectively use this momentum to grow and address the changes that need to happen in the beauty entrepreneur community so that Black-owned business can thrive and be thought of as equal.”
Brockelman led Wednesday’s Beauty Entrepreneurship Community Roundtable, which featured:
Yve-Car Momperousse, CEO and Founder or Kreyol Essence
Elizabeth Davis, CEO and Founder of the popular hair vitamin brand Shedavi
Nicole Melton, Founder and Creative Director of beauty marketing agency Melton Digital
Mabel Frias, Founder of Luna Magic Beauty and Director of Digital Merchandising and Ecommerce Strategy at Savage X Fenty
Jeannell Darden, CEO of plant-based textured hair brand Moisture Love
Janice Fredericks, Founder of The Retail Genius, a consultancy helping Black entrepreneurs own their own stores and thrive in the beauty supply channel
Dixie Lincoln-Nichols, Founder of the Washington DC retail shop and online marketplace Inside Outer Beauty Market
Robyn-Melissa Watkins, Owner of the Holistic Beauty Group, a clean beauty and wellness product development consultancy
Merrell Hollis, a Celebrity Makeup Artist and Co-Founder of LUVANYA Beauty
Cosmetics Design was on the Zoom listening and learning along with numerous other attendees; and here are the top takeaways from the first Beauty Entrepreneurship Community Roundtable:
Every beauty brand should be built upon solid formulations and branding
“Don’t just buy from us just because we are Black. Buy from me because I have a bomb product; it’s well formulated; it’s well made. And, I’m Black,” says Darden summarizing the marketing approach she takes at Moisture Love.
Which is were business owners like Watkins come in. As she describes her product development work at the Holistic Beauty Group, “it’s really about giving…resources to brands that need to understand the supply chain and understand what’s going on to give them sustainable success.”
Marketing from a place of understanding is very effective
Indie brands have pushed beauty and wellness innovation ahead at an incredible speed for at least 5+ years now (which is about how long the current indie beauty movement has been going strong). And one of things that indie beauty brand founders do best is translate real consumer needs into real product solutions—and this in no less true for Black founders.
“We’re not just marketing to this consumer. We are this consumer,” notes Watkins. And Melton explains further, saying, “Beauty is cultural for Black women. Beauty is tied to identity and self-esteem, going way beyond just purchasing products off the shelf.”
“We have the understanding of the cultural component of beauty and the routines, not just the product,” she says.
Learning new languages is a must
In every business there is jargon. And beauty is no different. Knowing the languages of retail, manufacturing, ingredients, packaging, etc. is instrumental to a brand’s success in the cosmetics and personal care marketplace.
“You have to do your own research,” says Frias. “And,” she adds, “the store is the best resource. There’s a reason why [a product or brand] is there, and why it is where it is on the shelf and [why it is where it is] in the store.”
“Understand the language of the retailer that you’re speaking to,” emphasizes Frias.
Business ownership helps build generational wealth
Brand and store ownership is as much about entrepreneurship and bringing quality beauty products to consumers as it is about social responsibility.
“You buy from me so my black daughters can have trust funds. This is how we cycle the dollar back around,” explained Darden. It’s a sentiment which mirrors an initiative that Courtney Adeleye, Founder of The Mane Choice, launched late last year called The Generational Advantage Fund (read more about that here on Cosmetics Design).
Plus, “Black-owned stores are able to have conversation that big retailers can’t have with Black consumer,” says Fredericks. And as an independent retail store owner Lincoln-Nichols notes, “We want to be a place where Black women can have their producers proudly showcased. Not just 1% but 60% of the brands on our shelves are Black-owned.”
And it’s about much more than Black-owned brands for Black consumers. As Davis points out, “[We are] making goods that we can contribute to the world….We do need clean beauty. We do need moisturized skin. But others need those things too.”
Looking ahead to a next Beauty Entrepreneurship Community Roundtable
“What made the Beauty Entrepreneurship community roundtable a success was the incredible support that we have received from the industry! I have had numerous publications, beauty industry leaders, brand owners, beauty retailers reach out and say thank you for starting the much-needed conversation,” Brockelman tells Cosmetics Design. “My goal,” she says, “is that this moment is a spark that spreads into a movement that normalizes and recognizes Black beauty entrepreneurs in the mainstream beauty industry.”
Deanna Utroske is always open to learning more about the business of beauty and the lived experiences of the entrepreneurs and professionals who make this industry tick. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.