I learned this firsthand after I had a baby and developed eczema that showed up in strange places, like on my wrist or behind my ears. It was really uncomfortable and itchy. At first, I thought, “Oh, I just had a baby. It must just be my hormones working themselves back out.” But when it didn’t go away, I went to my doctor. It took two or three doctors to get the right diagnosis, and, by that time, I was using steroid creams that were thinning and scarring my skin. It wasn’t my dermatologist’s fault. Within chemistry labs, there's this range of skin tones that are studied. If the medical industry doesn’t study a product’s effect on your skin tone, it's really hard to know how to treat your skin. It was very frustrating.
In 2017, Nyakio Beauty was acquired by Unilever and the products continue to be sold at Target.
Then, in December 2020, I took on a new beauty challenge when I co-created Thirteen Lune with my business partner, Patrick. We had the idea for this business in June of 2020, when the country was in the middle of a global pandemic and a racial reckoning.
During this time, I found myself showing up on all these lists of top Black-owned, Black-founded brands to shop. I would go through these lists, and it was shocking to me how many hundreds of brands I never knew existed. There were beautiful brands created by founders with very rich stories using incredible ingredients and formulations who had very little following or distribution.
During this time, I was also receiving DMs and messages asking, “I want to buy your face oil at Target, but can I use it because I don't look like you?” To me, it sounded absolutely ridiculous. But it happens so often that I realized that there was an opportunity for education around the subject. I, as a Black woman, have been using products my whole life made by people who don't look like me. Of course, I create products that you can use.
So, my dear friend and I came together to create a truly inclusive, beauty retail platform. It’s the first of its kind. Thirteen Lune launched with 13 Black-owned brands and now, 14 months later, we sell over 120 brands. Not only are we promoting this globally diverse range of beauty brands, but it’s also an opportunity to debunk the myth that Black and Brown people only create products for Black and Brown people.
As Black and Brown people, we are huge spenders in beauty and have helped to get so many brands to such massive success. I think that equity in beauty is about fairness – allowing Black and Brown founders to have a bigger piece of the pie and enabling consumers to better see themselves reflected on shelves through these amazing brands.
Growing up in Oklahoma, there was one store where my mom could get her makeup shade. For too long, many of our beauty aisles were segregated with “the ethnic aisle.” As a teenager and coming into my own, I found it so offensive that I was banned to the back of the store to find that proper conditioner for my hair.
Today, I am so excited and thrilled to be a part of the industry and to hopefully be a catalyst to move the industry forward.
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