Browse Tag

beauty

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This Black Owned Nail Salon on Wheels Finds Success During a Pandemic

Philly entrepreneur Keesha Brown launched her mini nail salon inside an old bus in February, just as the pandemic descended on the region.

The golden bronze bus allows her to travel to her clients. It also lets her cater to just one person or one small group at a time.

Black Owned Nail Salon

“When the COVID happened is when everything changed,” Brown, 36, told Billy Penn. “It actually boosted my business.”

The pandemic, social media, and support for Black-owned businesses stemming from recent protests have been like a holy trinity for success for Brown’s newest endeavor, which she christened Last Minute Nails.

Brown, who runs seven businesses in total, has a cosmetology degree. She “always wanted to be a nail technician,” she said, but had trouble finding a job in traditional shops.

So this year, she purchased an old CCT bus for about $7,500 and transformed it into a stylish mini spa. For about $3,000 in renovations, Brown painted the walls a magenta pink and added floral wallpaper, a black chandelier, velour navy blue salon chairs, and dark wood-look floors.

With every other traditional nail salon shuttered following Gov. Tom Wolf’s closure of non-life sustaining businesses, people turned to Last Minute Nails.

“We were the only nail salon listed as open,” Brown said.

That won’t be the case soon. City officials announced last week that personal services — salons, barbers, and spas — can reopen come Friday.

But it’s not just the monopoly on the nail hustle right now that’s got business booming.

While working on a client in Philly’s West Oak Lane neighborhood, Brown’s bus caught one neighbor’s eye. That neighbor snapped pics and shared the images on Facebook.

“This sister has a mobile nail salon and I just thought that was so cool!” Facebook user Simone Collucci wrote. Her post went viral. It’s been shared more than 12k times — and gave Brown her next biz boost.

“I literally had over 800 calls coming in regarding my services,” Brown said. That was in one day. The next day, she got 1,000 calls, and now her bookings are double what they were at launch.

Hiding her Black ownership because of past experience

Last Minute Nails proudly lists itself as a Black-owned business on Instagram. But Brown, a serial entrepreneur, said she hid it at first.

“I didn’t want people to know that it was a Black-owned business because of the non-support that we get from being Black owned,” Brown said. “When I would go to certain clients, I would say, ‘No, I don’t own the business. I’m just an employee.’”

The increased support following George Floyd protests, Brown said, is not what she usually receives as a Black woman business owner — and she has plenty of experience.

Her other companies include a staffing agency and job training program, both on pause while Last Minute Nails gets off the ground, and an ice cream and Belgian waffle shop called Late Night Munch & Crunch in Marcus Hook, Pa.

black owned nail salon

Brown recalled a time when one of her staffing agency clients, a doctor’s office where she’d placed three long-term employees, found out she owned the business.

“And all of a sudden, that took a downward spiral,” Brown said of the doctor’s office. “From that, it went to [him] not answering my calls, [him] not answering my text messages. So that made me feel like…I wasn’t good enough being a Black owned business.”

On the Last Minute Nails bus, Brown specializes in dip powder false nails because they’re quicker than acrylic application — and her entire business model is based on speed and convenience.

That jibes perfectly with the reopening guidance for the industry provided by the city this week. Brown said she uses hand sanitizer, sanitizes clients’ hands before and after their appointment, disinfects the pedicure bowl with bleach after each client and wears a mask…most of the time.

She caught a little flak for not wearing a mask in the viral Facebook photos.”That was just one of the customers that I felt comfortable enough not to wear a mask at that time,” she explained.

Ultimately, Brown believes she manifested her successful nail shop.

“Last year, I kept saying, I want to be rich,” Brown said. “Now I feel like, I’m not going to ever have to worry about my income anymore because all I do is answer the phone and say, ‘Hey, I can take you right now.’ And literally I can make money all day, every day.”

 

Source: Billy Penn

 

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BlackTravelBox Offers Beauty Products for The Traveler on the Go

According to Orion Brown, Black travelers have few, if any places they can go to find personal care products that work specifically for their hair and skincare needs.
That is why she created Black Travel Box. Her goal is to give women of color a brand they can trust for all their travel personal care needs.
“I started Black Travel Box because there aren’t any brands serving the 5 million strong (and growing) population of Black millennial travelers”, she said.
Orion is creating a brand dedicated to serving this consumer (and its extensions) with products that take the guess work and stress out of traveling with products best suited for an ethnically diverse community.
We caught up with her to find out more about her inspiration and how her entrepreneurial journey is going so far.
the black travel box
Orion Brown

What inspired you to create Black Travel Box?

After traveling to my 15th country, I found myself with less product than I needed and nowhere to purchase something suited to my hair and skin care needs – I thought to myself that I really can’t be the only one struggling when I travel. And after talking to other travelers like me, I discovered I wasn’t.

the black travel box

How did you decide what specific items to offer and ingredients to make them with?

I started with the basics – products that are in every hotel, travel aisle, and gym that still manage to consistently not consider the needs of travelers and folks on the go outside of what’s considered ‘normal’ hair and skin.
Often products like shampoo and conditioner, while not popular with most travelers, are especially problematic for richly textured hair.
While watery lotions made with waxes and fillers leave darker skin tones dry with an ashy residue. So our product line started with that – and of course lip balm because we’re not trying to have crusty lips out here. It’s a staple we can all get behind.
the black travel box

If you could wake up tomorrow as an expert in any business skill, what would it be? Why?

I’d be an expert in content creation – its so important for us to tell our story and engage with our communities in ways that enrich their travel and on the go beauty experience.
The creativity that I see in the marketplace today is astounding, and I am in total awe of brands that create multifaceted conversations with their communities with such clarity of voice and perspective.

What has been the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial journey thus far?

The most rewarding part has been receiving notes via email, text, and LinkedIn with words of encouragement from within the Black travel community and beyond.
Our customers are passionate brand advocates and as we learn and grow brand awareness, the response has truly been humbling.
The most challenging part has been keeping focused on the strategy and tactics that we’ve laid out from the outset and not get distracted with shiny objects and short term opportunities.

What types of brands and businesses are you interested in partnering with?

BTB is all about serving people on the go – retail, hospitality, beauty, travel, even fitness partners would be a great fit for our long term vision.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

We endeavor to be the Away meets Glossier for our community serving up relevant content, building community, and creating a best in class inclusive line of products made for an on the go lifestyle.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Trust your gut, pray, and take the leap. Whatever form that may come in. Whether you side hustle or full time, with dedication and focus you can create the business and legacy that you want.

– Tony O. Lawson
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She Overcame a Health Scare and Launched a Successful Cosmetics Business

BeautyMarked & Co is a Philadelphia based business that offers quality vegan and cruelty free cosmetics and accessories. Founder, Nana Frimpong originally started doing makeup professionally in 2013 while she was in pharmacy school.  Even while she worked as a full time pharmacist, she continued to do makeup on the side.

She recently developed a neuromuscular disease that comes with debilitating symptoms that render her unable to work as a pharmacist nor as a make up artist.

Despite this life changing event, Nana was compelled to make the most of her situation. In March of 2019, she started an e-commerce business selling her own brand of cosmetics and beauty accessories. “In a way, my sickness ended up being a blessing in disguise because it gave birth to what is now BeautyMarked & Co.” she says.

Intrigued, we decided to learn more about Nana and her entrepreneurial journey and goals.

CEO and Founder, Nana Frimpong

How did you decide what products to offer?

As a makeup lover, I definitely wanted to start out with cosmetic products that would cater to everyone, from the busy working mom who doesn’t have time for a full face of makeup to the makeup artist trying to build a cost effective kit. So I started with lipsticks/glosses and mascara – two makeup essentials most women don’t go without.

BeautyMarked

Not everyone has the time or skill to wear false lashes so I really wanted to bring a mascara to the market that brings the most out of your natural lashes but doesn’t break the bank.

I also was fed up with the notion that black women could not wear certain (bright) lip colors because of their skin tone.

So, I shied away from the traditional brown nudes and came out with bright, dark, and bold colored lipsticks that anyone can wear regardless of their skin tone.

 

All of my lipsticks can be worn alone or mixed to create unique shades that suit each individual and their preferences. In addition, for those that may not be interested in makeup, I wanted to offer additional beauty products that celebrate my Ghanaian culture. So, I decided to sell Ntoma (also known as Ankara) satin lined bonnets and headwraps.

Every aspect of the brand, from the logo to the product names are completely African inspired. Lipsticks are named after African cities, lip glosses are named after African desert regions, while the bonnets/headwraps are named after the Ghanaian women in my family and common female names of my Ashanti tribe.

What do you like most about owning a business? What do you like least?

The most rewarding aspect of owning a business is definitely working for myself. It’s a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, trial and error but it’s definitely worth it knowing I’m working towards building my own brand. The downside is the time it takes away from my personal life.

For now, I handle all aspects of my business including product development, customer service, social media marketing, etc. and that can be very time consuming.

BeautyMarked

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

I would eventually like to focus solely on cosmetics. I hope to develop a full line of cosmetic products and to make BeautyMarked & Co. a world renowned brand.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My first piece of advice to those thinking about starting a business is to start now, with what you have, no matter how small it may be.

There’s never a “right” time to start and you’ll never be prepared enough until you actually take a leap of faith and start. Entrepreneurship is a learning curve; mistakes, failure, trial and error are apart of the process and crucial to learning and ultimately becoming successful.

I would also advise aspiring entrepreneurs to get rid of any negativity, both from yourself and those around you. Fear and doubt are the enemies of success. Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks; the greater the risk the greater the reward.

 

Sponsored by BeautyMarked & Co.

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Black Owned Satin Bonnet Brands That Aren’t Charging $98

According to NiteCap Founder Sarah Marantz, she came up with the idea for a satin bonnet “after much consideration, conceptualization, brainstorming and borderline obsessive research.”

black owned satin bonnet brands
NiteCap Founder Sarah Marantz

Fortunately, for Black women everywhere, someone else had the bright idea of creating appropriate sleepwear to keep their hairdos intact. Black Owned satin bonnet brands have existed for ages. Here are a few of our faves for Black girls who considered hair bonnets when sleeping on their hands wasn’t enough…

Black Owned Satin Bonnet Brands

Regal Ivy

Beautiful Curly Me

Chiwrapz

ID Noble

Loccrush

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Purrty Dimples

Peace Crown’d

Beauty Marked & Co

Natural Hair Shop

Eboni Curls

Glow by Daye

FlorBella Boutique

Goodnight Hair Bonnets

Grace Eleyae

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Natural Born Hats

Isoken Enofe

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Loza Tam

Creations By Shirelle

Headdress by Sheri

Special thanks to Kami (@frobunni) and the Professional Back Girl (@professionalblackgirl) followers for helping us compile this list! It takes a village!

-Tony O. Lawson 

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Black Owned Makeup and Cosmetics Brands You Should Know

Black consumers account for a disproportionate amount of product sales in a number of consumer goods categories. One of these categories is Beauty. Almost 86% of the $63.5 million spent on “Ethnic Hair and Beauty Aids” is attributed to Black consumers.

Source: Nielsen Homescan 2017

I’m sure you would agree that Black owned beauty brands should be getting these coins. Here are a few you can support. As usual, let us know which others you think should be on the list!

Black Owned Makeup Brands

Laws of Nature Cosmetics

black owned makeup

GloGirl Cosmetics

MDMflow 

The Candy Lady

Einnaf Cosmetics

MFMG

The Lip Bar

Lamik Beauty

Gold Label Cosmetics

8dab87_dc46de32bc9241a1a6b2a8127fee5c0a

Beauty Bakerie

Juvia’s Place

Black Owned Makeup Brands

127 East Cosmetics

Mented Cosmetics

Black Owned Makeup Brands

 

Tony O. Lawson

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Black Owned Nail Salons You Should Know

I was scrolling through our Instagram page @shoppeblack and saw a video of a Black woman being attacked at an Asian nail salon in Brooklyn. Someone filmed employees of nail salon attacking a customer with a broom and throwing liquid at her while she tries to fight them off.

The video which has since gone viral has led to multiple arrests, public outrage, and protests calling for the salon to shut down.

I’m going to file this incident under “Another reason to Support Black Owned Businesses.” In this case, Black owned nail salons.

While I know that there were training and entrepreneurship programs set up in the US for Asian immigrants, particularly Vietnamese women who still dominate ownership in the eight billion dollar nail industry, I still question why there are so little Black owned salons and/or why we choose not to go to them if we know about them.

That said, in response to some of your comments about us needing and wanting Black-owned nail salons to patronize, we’ve compiled a list around the US and internationally. (#BlackBusinessesInTheDiasporaMatterToo).

I’m sure we left out a few, so feel free to add another Black owned nail salons that do good work in the comments. And note, we’re not just talking about just any Black owned nail salons, but those that are clean, aesthetically nice, where they do good work and where customer service matters.

– Shantrelle P. Lewis

Black Owned Nail Salons

Marché Rue Dix (Brooklyn)

 

Free Edge Beauty Studio (Brooklyn)

Free Edge Beauty Studio

Dera Ebele’s Nail Boutique (Franklin Square, NY)

Dera Ebele’s Nail Boutique

Nail Bed (Brooklyn, NY)

SHIC by Soketah’s (Brooklyn, NY)

Palms Nail Bar (Arlington, TX)

Shine Nails (Chicago, IL)

A Polished Work Nail Spa Lounge (Chicago, IL)

A Polished Work Nail Spa Lounge

Beautiful Sisters Nail Spa (Chicago, IL)

Beautiful Sisters Nail Spa

Simply Panache Nail Bar and Pedi Spa (Hampton, VA)

Nails by Tiara (Atlanta, GA)

Poochiez Pawz Nail Studio (Atlanta, GA)

Poochiez Pawz

Divine Designz (Jacksonville, NC)

Alicia B Nail Bar (Columbia, SC)

Artisan Nail Studio (Charlotte, NC)

Studio 7 The Salon and Spa (Baltimore, MD)

Cre8tions Nail Spa (District Heights, MD)

Scrub Nail Boutique (Baltimore, MD)

Ms.Glitter Nail Lounge and Spa (Oakland, CA)

Ms.Glitter Nail Lounge and Spa

Powder Beauty Co (Los Angeles, CA)

Powder Beauty Co

Blessed By Beedy Nails (New Orleans, LA)

Z Luxury (West Hartford, CT)

Cher-Mère (Ontario, Canada)

Shea’D Beauty (London, UK)

Colour Riot Nails (London, UK)

Colour riot

Class Act Nails (Marietta, GA)

Nails by Keda (Cleveland, OH)

The Nail Tailor (San Pedro, CA)

Nola Organic Spa (New Orleans, LA)

 

-Tony O. Lawson

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Black Owned Skincare Brands You Should Know

A few years ago, Dove released a skincare ad that quickly received backlash for being racist and offensive. They have since pulled the ad but not in time to stop calls for a boycott of their products. More recently, the CEO of LUSH has also stepped in it.

Since SHOPPE BLACK is all about highlighting Black businesses, we created a list of Black owned skincare brands that would love to have your business.

Black Owned Skincare Brands

ITADI

black owned skincare

Naked Bar Soap Co

black owned skincare

Pooka Pure & Simple

Temple Zen

black owned skincare

Jade & Fox Co.

black owned skincare

Cream & Coco Skincare

black owned skincare

Skinfolk

Kyra’s Shea Medleys

Butter Me Up Goods

Ayele & Co.

black owned skincare

Best Life Organics

Nyah Beauty

M by LW

Josephine’s Creme

Sixela Skincare

Sogona Sacko

ReLiv Organics

Shea Radiance

Urembo Asili

Angie Watts

black owned skincare

Emollient

black owned skincare

 

dermHa

black owned skincare

Jacq’s Organics

Chanvere Naturals

DreamStar Cosmetics

IYOBA

Brosily Bath and Body

Oyin Handmade

black owned skincare

 

 

Tony O. Lawson

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Sister Scientist: Helping Entrepreneurs Create & Develop Beauty Brands

Most Black entrepreneurs in the Beauty industry are involved in the retail part of the supply chain.

Because it’s important that we also manufacture and sell wholesale, I wanted to speak with Erica Douglas, aka Sister Scientist.

Not only is Erica a cosmetic chemist, but she is also the co-founder of mSEED Group, a team of specialists that offer services that are vital to the successful launch and strategic growth of brands in the beauty, cosmetics, and personal care space.

SB: I’m pretty sure that most scientists aren’t entrepreneurs. What inspired you to turn your interest in science and chemistry into a business?

ED: The inspiration came from recognizing a need. Over the last 5 – 10 years, there has been an unprecedented number of new businesses and brands entering the beauty and personal grooming space.

Although the number of brands have exponentially grown, the number of manufacturers servicing these brands has not. Specifically, manufacturers with the ability to provide full-service options to budding entrepreneurs that are just getting started or growing rapidly.

New brands require specialized expertise and professional support even when it comes to office operations for example Hosted Telephony. My team and I have the experience, knowledge and network to help these ideas come to life.

I became an entrepreneur to support other entrepreneurs. I try to help entrepreneurs succeed, just like accountants try to take care of businesses financial affairs in order to help them focus their energy on what they are passionate about. In fact, LA’s best certified public accountants are well respected for their track record with numerous businesses including black and women entrepreneurs who are driving the growth in the beauty category.

SB: Most Black businesses in the beauty industry focus on the retail phase of the supply chain. What made you decide to focus offer manufacturing services?

ED: The landscape of the beauty industry is changing rapidly and I believe that the future of innovation in this space more so lies in the fate of the entrepreneur.

I have encountered so many people with great ideas who didn’t have the right resources or access to get started.

This especially applies to minority and women entrepreneurs. People would come to me for help and all I could do was point them in the right direction, which often wasn’t enough.

A number of companies don’t want to work with the “small guy” because their infrastructure is built to support large volume orders.

It dawned on me that if I wanted there to be a change in how beauty startups were serviced, then I had to create the change.

SB: One of the services you offer is Private Label manufacturing. Can you explain what private label means?

ED: Private label manufacturing is when a retailing brand outsources the product development and production of their brand’s products to a third-party manufacturer as a paid service.

Brands come to us (mSEED group) with an idea and with their input, we develop it, design it, bottle it, and then sell it to them as a finished product with their branding, that they then sell into a retailer or direct-to-consumer.

SB: What industry relationships have you built that would benefit an entrepreneur that chooses to use your consulting service for retail placement?

ED: Between my team and I, we have served in roles on all sides of the beauty business. Along the way, we have had the opportunity to work for or rub elbows with some very successful, powerful, and influential people in the beauty space.

We maintain solid relationships with brokers, distributors, category buyers, suppliers, etc. They often refer some of their clients to us because we have experience building brands in mass retail and know what it takes for a brand to succeed at the shelf.

When a client under the mSEED umbrella is looking to take things to the next level we don’t just make the introductions to decision-makers in the industry, but we make sure the client is prepared and polished so that she has all the right answers before anybody even asks.

SB: On your YouTube channel you have a Fact or Crap segment. What are some of the most popular beliefs about natural hair and hair products that aren’t necessarily true?

ED: There are so many! The myth that irritates me the most is about silicones…silicones have gotten a bad rep in the natural hair community, but when used properly in formulations, silicones can be one of the most effective lines of defense for breakage, moisture retention, and heat damage.

SB: What is the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur?

ED: I have so many challenges day-to-day, but most of those challenges fall under one category which is balancing and managing growth.

This is why I’m up at all hours of the night…for 10 hours out of the day I am reacting to time-sensitive matters of the day, and for the other 10 hours, I am trying to find ways to implement smart and efficient solutions that ensure scalability.

The other 4 hours of the day are usually a blur or I have blacked out. 😉

SB: What is the most fulfilling part of what you do?

ED: I love helping people fulfill their dreams and live in their passion. Seeing the look on somebody’s face when they see their vision come to life for the first time and get that first sale is priceless. I will never get tired of seeing that look.

SB: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs that want to start a beauty or personal care brand?

ED: The space is very saturated right now, so if you’re going to come with it, you need to have a compelling story and brand identity that entices consumer loyalty and products that live up to their claims. Also, building the proper foundation is key.

Just don’t wait too late to get serious. It’s better to fail fast and pivot, otherwise you can stay on the wrong path for a long time.

SB: Where do you see your business in 5 years?

ED: I want mSEED group to be a valuable part of a thriving ecosystem of minority and women-owned businesses. mSEED group is a beauty entrepreneur’s one-stop-shop to success and we would like to see that grow into a supportive community of entrepreneurs celebrating one another’s successes.

 

-Tony O. Lawson


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The Politics Behind the Black Beauty Store Industry Dominated by Koreans – MPR

Karen Coffey opened Bella Beauty and Hair in January with lots of optimism and a stylist’s eye for hair extensions and other products tailored to Black women. She thought that would be enough to succeed.

beauty
Karen Coffey speaks with a customer inside Bella Beauty and Hair, which she opened earlier this year. Evan Frost | MPR News

She didn’t realize the game would be stacked against her before she even opened her door.

Like Black entrepreneurs before her, Coffey quickly discovered that behind the beauty supply storefronts that dot the nation’s urban neighborhoods and suburban shopping plazas sits a multibillion-dollar industry for black hair products that’s run largely by South Koreans and does not cede its power or market share without a fight.

beauty
Wigs on display at Bella Beauty and Hair

Korean-Americans cornered the market decades ago by controlling the manufacturing, distribution and retail sale of hair extensions — the moneymaker of the industry. Black owners believe Korean wholesalers shut them out and only supply Korean retailers.

Korean American beauty supply industry leaders at a meeting in the Northeast U.S. – The Korean Times

Coffey says she’s seen that firsthand. Some Korean wholesalers, she said, have denied or ignored her requests for products. Meanwhile, a new Korean-owned store that opened across the street a month before her has some brands she can’t get.

“All of it is run by Koreans,” said Coffey, 32. “A lot of them don’t make it easy for Blacks to get in. I didn’t know it would be this challenging.”

National Federation of Beauty Suppliers (NFBS) Board Members – The Korean Times

Korean wholesalers deny any preferential treatment. Shake-N-Go, which supplies Coffey’s nearby competitors, said it works with retailers based on local competition and other exclusively economic factors, and the choices are “far from being discriminatory.”

Coffey, though, says those statements run contrary to what she and other Black beauty supply owners experience daily.

Coffey’s part of a growing number of Black women here and around the country determined to persevere even if it means bypassing the Korean supply chain. They’re going to extreme lengths, employing innovation and grit, to do so.

NFBS BOARD MEMBERS – THE KOREAN TIMES

“There’s been a really concerted effort to get Black people to enter the retail side of this business,” said Lori Tharps, Temple University journalism professor and co-author of “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America.”

“There are success stories,” she added. “Somehow black people are finding alternative suppliers and moving past this idea that Koreans are keeping them out of this very lucrative space.”

 

Read full article by Emma Sapong at MPR News


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How This Intimate Apparel and Beauty Brand Got into Major Retail Stores Across the Country

As an entrepreneur, getting a major retailer to carry your brand can be a challenge. Getting several top retailers to carry your brand is even harder. However, that’s exactly what UI Global Brands LLC did. We chatted with one half of the Texas-based husband and wife duo, Psyche and Vontoba Terry, to find out more about their journey and success.

SB: What inspired you to start UI Global brands?

VT: We started UI Global Brands because we wanted to give people products that would make them happier and healthier. Psyche was taking an entrepreneurship course in her MBA program and I was wrapping up an M.A. in Economics at UNLV.

Psyche was always trying different business ideas and testing her concepts on our friends in Las Vegas. We started with great-smelling body butters that were natural and made for people who were tired of dry skin. A month later we added lingerie for women who wanted fashionable products at an affordable price.


Shortly after launching, we were pregnant with our first son, and Psyche’s body changed. Psyche saw a need that wasn’t being met for women like her (she went from a B cup to a G cup) and launched a new plus-size collection for women who wanted fashionable intimates that flattered their curves.

SB: Describe the “Workshop at Macy’s” and explain how it changed the game for you?

VT: The Workshop at Macy’s was life-changing. We were a small e-commerce shop before meeting the Macy’s team. The Workshop gave us a crash course on how to sell our intimate apparel collection to a major retailer like Macy’s.

We met game changers like Lisa Price and Daymond John and learned the ins and outs of strategic retail marketing and retail math. We used that knowledge to expand our skincare business as well, and within two months of the workshop, we had our first wholesale skincare customer, TJMaxx. Psyche visits the Workshop at Macy’s regularly to share her experience and inspire new participants.

SB: What has been the most challenging experience on your entrepreneurial journey so far? What has been the most exciting?

VT: The most challenging experience has been making more people aware of the great products that we produce and where they can buy them. We make natural body products and natural hair care products that are as good as or better than a lot of products on the market.

We also produce quality bras at affordable prices and size-inclusive lingerie made with attention to detail. The most exciting aspect of our journey has been traveling around the country to Macy’s stores and Sally Beauty stores, and hearing from customers who have fallen in love with our Inspire Psyche Terry, Audrey Olivia, and Urban Hydration products.

SB: How do you handle being a business partner with your spouse?

VT: It was difficult for the first few months. We have been in business for 8 years, and for the first 6 years, I was working at a bank full-time and doing what I could in the evenings and weekends to support the business as it grew. In 2015, I left corporate and joined the company full-time.

We learned how to communicate better and “stay in our lanes” by understanding what we do best and trusting each other to handle our side of the business. We meet every day about different topics and there are no secrets. If we make a mistake, we own it, and then we grow from it. But it isn’t easy. It takes effort every day.

SB: What is the biggest business related risk you have taken?

VT: In 2015, we opened a factory within 30 days of finding out that a factory couldn’t make our natural Urban Hydration sugar scrubs for an order that was going to 3 national retailers the next month. Psyche was 35 weeks pregnant and we had no capital to finance the opening.

We received 30 day terms from our suppliers, received the first month free on a warehouse, and called every church member, friend, and relative we knew to work on the assembly line. Three weeks later, we delivered more than 15,000 units to our customers and saved those relationships.

SB: Where do you see the business in 5 years?

VT: In 5 years, we will have expanded our natural hair and bath business, Urban Hydration, into more retail doors, and we plan to grow our Audrey Olivia bra collection into more sizes and expand our Inspire Psyche Terry luxury lingerie collection into more store locations and boutiques.

 

SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

VT: Know why you want to be an entrepreneur and what makes you special. There are many products and services vying for the attention of buyers and you must stand out in a crowded marketplace. Learn your competitors and highlight what makes you different and better.

Find out more about UI Global Brands LLC here.

 

Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson