Browse Tag

skin care

5 mins read

ITADI, a Natural Skin Care Brand Created To Honor a Father’s Legacy

Tabi Bonney is a Washington D.C and Los Angeles based artist, director and producer who has worked with artists such as Wale, Wiz Khalifa and Raheem DeVaughn. He is also the founder of natural  skin care brand, ITADI.

Natural Skincare Brand
Tabi Bonney

ITADI is a natural skin care brand formulated with organic coffee berry, harvested from Bonney’s family-owned farms in Togo, West Africa. The brand is named after  Tabi’s late father, a well-known afro-funk musician popular during the 1970’s in Togo and other parts of West Africa.

What inspired you to start ITADI?

ITADI is my father’s name. The brand is a tribute to him. He loved Africa and his country Togo so much and never wanted us to forget where we came from. He wanted to make sure that his family always returned HOME.

So for me, ITADI is about history, legacy, and evolution. Though it was his goal, my father never had the chance to commercialize the resources from our farms in Togo.  Since his passing,  I’ve pushed forward with the dreams of my father.

Natural Skincare Brand

What is the most gratifying thing about being an entrepreneur? What is the most challenging?

The most gratifying thing is controlling your destiny and not being reliant on a boss or company dictating your future. It’s so cool to have an idea in your head, make it tangible, and see people like it and incorporate it into their life.

To know that someone is using a natural product made from ingredients from our family farms, and to get a message saying that their skin feels healthy and clear and that they love our products brings me immense joy.

The most challenging thing is that there are a lot of pitfalls. It is definitely not easy. Things like going into debt with loans and credit cards is a big risk, and there’s a lot of pressure to succeed. But I believe it’s a risk worth taking in the long run.

How does your business benefit the local community where the products are produced?

We are extremely small at the moment.  We’re really just getting started. Right now we make sure that our farmers get paid fair wages.  We make sure their children are in school, help with all school fees, and pay for any medical assistance our farmers and their families need.

Ultimately, we hope to expand and contribute to neighboring villages.  We have big ambitions and would like to follow the blueprint of our mentor-company Alaffia, a fair trade, ethical skin care products line resourced from Togo and solely focused on eradicating poverty in West Africa.

Tabi and Alaffia founder, Olowo-n’djo Tchala

What differentiates your brand from the many others in your market?

Our main ingredient is coffee berry. You can’t find it in other brands. It’s the highest in antioxidants which works wonders for your skin. And we are everything we say we are.

Natural Skincare Brand

Purely natural ingredients sourced directly from our own land. No gimmicks, just quality, high performing natural ingredients for your skin. Simple and clean.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

We would like to buy more land, employ more farmers, and set a standard for paying farmers fair wages. We would like to support agri-business in more villages.

We’d like to work with teens and young adults to embrace jobs in agri-business so that villages don’t experience a complete brain drain of their brightest minds, who often leave for jobs in the city.

We’d also like to collaborate on innovative ways to turn Togo’s natural resources into products that would serve US and international market demand.


-Tony O. Lawson

5 mins read

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
5 mins read

Meet the Owner of the Largest Beauty Supply store in Stockbridge, GA

Cova Beauty is a black owned beauty supply store that specializes in cosmetics, organic care products, hair extensions and accessories.

They are also the largest beauty retailer in Stockbridge, GA. We caught up with the owner, Dianna Foster to find out more about her and her business.

black owned beauty supply
Cova Beauty owner, Dianna Foster

What inspired you to start your business?

I’ve always loved everything about beauty, hair & fashion. I was the girl known for always switching my hairstyles up and trying new things. This love blossomed into a passion. As I was in a season of inner exploration, looking to determine my next professional career move, I was inspired by the lack of options in the beauty supply industry.

black owned beauty supply

There were certain things I needed and couldn’t find from products to experience. I stepped out on faith to create a space that offered everything I would want and need. I’m so grateful that our customers are enjoying it.

What has been the most challenging and the most gratifying thing about owning a business?

In the beginning, one of my challenges was delegating. My business is my baby, I love every part of it and enjoy doing the work. However, I had to quickly become comfortable with delegating so I can focus on our growth. The cool thing about that is it encourages growth, empowers and gives confidence to my staff. It’s been amazing.

The most gratifying part of this journey will always be the customers and the relationships we’ve developed with them. The joy I feel when our regulars visit us is indescribable. The gratitude I’m overcome with is immeasurable when a woman tells me she drove over an hour to visit Cova.

Knowing we’re a part of their lives now is so humbling. It makes me so happy. Nothing else can compare to that feeling.

What skill have you developed over time that has had the biggest impact on your business?

Self-discipline. Discipline affects every aspect of this business. You must have the discipline and work ethic to complete tasks, be resourceful and execute day in and day out.

When I’m not feeling my best, discipline kicks in. Without it, none of this would be possible. You cannot maintain any level of success without discipline.

How easy or difficult was it to source Black-owned brands to sell in your store?

Fortunately, we’ve had really positive experiences with Black-owned brands and haven’t had much difficulty supporting them here in our store. We have so many great relationships and I’m so grateful for that!

What advice do you have for others who want to start a beauty supply store?

Do your research. Develop self-discipline. Don’t move too fast. Don’t rush the process. Know your worth and make sure your work ethic matches it. Make sure you love it because it’s not a walk in the park.

There will be challenges, man have I had them, but my love for this keeps me going through it all. I really love what I do and I know its that love that had me here 7 days a week, 12-16 hours a day. It refocused me when I needed course correction.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

I definitely see us expanding and scaling Cova. We’re actually scouting locations for store #2! I’m also planning to roll out an e-commerce extension as well. We get so much support from people across the country that want to shop with us so it’s coming! Cova Beauty will be a household name!

Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Shea Moisture Founder Launches $100 Million Fund for Women Entrepreneurs Of Color At Essence Festival

On Thursday, SheaMoisture haircare and skincare products founder Richelieu Dennis announced a $100 million fund for women entrepreneurs of color at the 2018 Essence Festival. The announcement surrounds the New Voices Fund that he’s been prepping for the past year.

“About six months ago, we announced that we were launching the new voices fund,” Dennis told the audience at the press conference during the Essence Festival. “I’m proud to say that we get to officially launch the $100 million New Voices Fund for women of color entrepreneurs here at Essence Festival this weekend. Over the past six months, we have already either invested in or committed to, over $30 million in black women entrepreneurs.”

As reported previously, Dennis sold SheaMoisture to Unilever in 2017. As part of the deal, he vowed to use the capital to create an investment fund for minority entrepreneurs, specifically women of color. Unilever and Sundial Brands, creators of SheaMoisture, agreed to contribute an initial investment of $50 million to the fund.

In addition to creating the fund to provide investment opportunities, Dennis wants to equip entrepreneurs with other resources to help contribute to the success of their companies.

“We are going to leverage the businesses that we’ve built—many of you know, Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage, Madame CJ Walker,” he said.

There has been a push of late to find ways to invest and provide women of color the funding they need to launch businesses. Women founders received less than 3% of VC dollars in 2018. Investment in black female founders—who in recent years have been starting businesses at higher rates than any other group, so they’re not hard to find—was barely discernible, at .02%.

Recently, Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of the venture fund Backstage Capital, announced that her new $36 million fund will invest exclusively in black women-led startups.

“When you talk to a group of white, affluent male investors and tell them you’re investing in women of color, the first thing that comes out is, `Oh, that’s really nice of you. That’s a great mission.’ They immediately correlate us to needing a helping hand,” Hamilton said in an interview with Fortune several months ago. “This is not that.”

Yet, women of color have been making progress in landing business funding. A recent study shows that more black women have gained access to venture capital since 2016. According to the new report, which was conducted in collaboration with digitalundividedJPMorgan Chase, the Case Foundation, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the number of black women who have raised upwards of $1 million from VC firms has more than tripled from 11 to 34. The number of startups founded by black women has also increased 2.5 times from 2016 to 2018, jumping from 84 to 227.

The New Voices Fund provides a way for women of color entrepreneurs to approach Dennis for capital infusion. Because of the parameters of the fund, he is likely looking at businesses that are looking to scale and not just an idea on a sheet of paper.

All of the information is located on the site. If you think you’re ready, log on and apply.


—Caroline Clarke, Selena Hill, and Samara Lynn of Black Enterprise

7 mins read

BGLH Marketplace CEO Talks Balancing Blogging, Babies & Business

You may know Leila Noelliste from her popular blog, Black Girl With Long Hair.

The blogger turned Businesswoman recently launched BGLH Marketplace, a storefront extension of her 3 year old whipped butter brand that offers handmade shea, mango and cocoa butter in more than 20 all-natural scents.

Let’s find out more about Leila and her business.

SB: What inspired the creation of BGLH Marketplace?

LN: It was really by accident. Over the course of my beauty blogging career I noticed two things:

  1. Raw shea, cocoa and mango butter are miracle ingredients with incredible properties for hair, face and skin and
  2. My readers lacked consistent access to these ingredients.

So, I located a quality raw shea butter supplier, and started selling it off my website, mainly to help my readers out. I was planning to also sell products from both major and indie natural hair care companies, but that didn’t work out.

After a few months the raw shea butter was the only listing on the shop site and looked so lonely sitting there that I decided to start whipping it to create more options.

This sent me down a rabbit hole. I did months worth of research on how to whip shea butter and made dozens of batches that were too greasy or too hard or not scented enough.

A few months in, I got a good process down and noticed customers saying that my whipped butters were the best they ever tried.

My sales shot up and that’s when I knew I was on to something. But honestly, even with that success I didn’t understand *why* people loved my stuff so much.

As I’ve educated myself more on the American skincare industry I realize that many skin care products are not as impactful as they could and should be, because they contain so much filler as means to cut costs.

My butters contain 4 main ingredients that are all food-grade — shea, cocoa and/or mango butter, coconut oil, almond oil, and essential oil for fragrance.

That’s it! Every ingredient plays a part and has a powerful impact on hair, face and skin. We have so many customers who say our butters have relieved their eczema or psoriasis, or that they can apply it once and the moisture lasts for a day and a half.

And the bonus is that it’s a full body product! We also have customers who use it to lock moisture into their hair after washes, and soften their hair before styling.

Shea, cocoa and mango butter are just really incredible! I’m like a butter evangelist, lol!

SB: Has your blogging career benefitted you as an entrepreneur?

LN: Definitely. For the years I was blogging before I opened up BGLH Marketplace I was inadvertently learning the ins and outs of the industry (beauty, hair and skincare) I would eventually enter.

SB: Describe juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship.

LN: It is a definitely a challenge, especially because my children are so young. I’ve been self-employed since 2009, when I was 24 years old, so professionally this is the only life I really know.

I don’t have a choice but to juggle. I delegate a lot, and try to keep my schedule flexible (I work short hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.) When I am with my kids, I make sure we are having quality time that nourishes them.

SB: What has been the most challenging and the most gratifying thing about your entrepreneurial journey so far?

LN: The most challenging has been getting a handle on time and schedule. When I was in my 20’s, I was really into the ‘they sleep we grind’ mentality.

Now that I am a mother in my 30s, I’m realizing the importance of self-care and not having a crazy schedule. You can be ambitious and still get a full night of sleep.

The most gratifying thing is knowing that no one can take my job away from me and I can provide for myself. So far I’ve gone through two major life financial challenges — the recession and my divorce last year — and in both instances my businesses saw me through.

Owning a business is like making a daily investment. It definitely pays off in the long run.

SB: Where do you see BGLH Marketplace in 5 years?

LN: I would love for us to be on the road to being the next The Honest Company. I have a passion for simple, natural ingredients and I want to create a line of beauty and lifestyle products that are healthy and effective.

Hopefully the butters are just the start. I would also love for us to open a second location in New York.

SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

LN: Jump in. I come across so many people with great business ideas who are afraid to get started. You never know if and how something will work until you try. And even if it doesn’t work out, you have gained valuable insight. Failure is very educational. It teaches you a lot!

Visit BGL Marketplace here!


Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG: @thebusyafrican)



2 mins read

Black Owned Businesses in Canada

Canada is known for many things. Currently, it’s best known as the place that everyone wants to move to if you know who wins you know what. Our North American neighbors should also be known for the many awesome Black owned businesses that exist there. Here are a few:

Black Owned Businesses in Canada

Bôhten (Quebec, Ontario & online) is an eco-luxury eyewear line handmade from reclaimed material, sourced from Africa.


Locsuria Natural Haircare Systems (Ontario) is a “pure and natural hair maintenance line of products.”


Curl Bar Beauty Salon (Ontario) aims to provide the highest quality service and experience for your hair and beauty services.


Nannis Natural Hair Studio (Ontario) provides “a unique holistic approach to healthy natural hair with locks, braids, twists, and customized styles for a wide range of special occasions.”


Le Nil Bleu (Montreal) is an Ethiopian restaurant that offers flavourful meals.


Club Balattou (Montréal ) is “one of the first venues to bring African bands to North America in the 1980s.


Black Theatre Workshop (Montréal) is “Canada’s oldest Black theatre company and is committed to reflecting Black culture and community by developing and providing visibility for Black Canadian artists.”


Tassot Creole (Quebec)is a Hatian restaurant that offers delicious meals made from scratch.


Le Virunga (Montréal)provides traditional African recipes that have been reinvented. “When African fine cuisine meets Québec.”


Ritz Caribbean Foods is a franchise that offers “the best Caribbean food in Ontario.”


Divas Hair Design Studio (Ontario) offers “a variety of services including hair services: Virgin Hair Extensions –Weaves, Braids, Custom wigs, Dread locking, Up-dos, Color, Relaxers, Hair products, accessories and many more.”


Earthtones Naturals (Ontario) was “developed out of necessity for Canadian-made premium and effective natural hair and body products.”


Shakara Naturals (Ontario) offers “natural products that help strengthen hair and improve skin.”


London Ivy Products (Ontario) is “a hair, bath & beauty line that heals, nourishes & serves multiple purposes.”



 -Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Black Owned Businesses in Brooklyn You Should Know

Over the past decade, countless Black owned businesses in Brooklyn (and nationwide) have fallen victim to gentrification.

Rising rents and leases are forcing businesses to close. However, there are still many Black owned businesses and institutions that have weathered the storm and continue to provide great goods and services.

Black Owned Businesses in Brooklyn

The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) aims to serve as a conduit for African Diaspora forms of expression ranging from the visual and performing arts to film and television.

Black Owned Businesses Brooklyn

Calabar Imports is a trendy, specialty retail and gift store that offers home furnishings, unique crafted jewelry, fashion, and gifts sold at moderate prices.


Khamit Kinks is a natural hair care salon that specializes in natural hairstyles and maintaining healthy hair.


Akwaaba Mansion is a meticulously restored Italianate villa that features exquisite architectural details, including 14-foot ceilings and ornate fireplaces.


Adrian Fanus Grooming is a highly rated barbershop that tailors to each client’s grooming experience to maximize his/her own personal and unique sense of style.


From old-school haircut styles to the most current popular hairstyles, Brooklyn Master Barbershop focuses on providing high-quality service and customer satisfaction. 


BCakeNY is a custom cake studio dedicated to creating specialty cakes for every occasion. Owner & Cake Designer: Miriam Milord

La Caye offers authentic Haitian cuisine & inventive sangrias in an intimate, art-hung space with outdoor dining. 


The Crabby Shack is your destination for all things crabs! They dish up crab in full plates with sides, as well as in rolls, tacos & sliders. 10525846_868818223139365_263334174250857375_n

Bed-Vyne Brew Bar is a pub with reclaimed wood decor that serves draft microbrews & hosts DJs from Wednesday to Saturday. 


Brooklyn Bell is an ice cream shop that sells classic & seasonal flavors & other housemade sweets. 


Brooklyn Swirl is the first independently-owned frozen yogurt shop to serve the Brooklyn Community. They serve crepes & smoothies in bright modern digs with a patio & free WiFi. 


Bati is a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, located in the heart of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, dedicated to serving authentic delicacies that possess homemade quality flavors.


Jollof Restaurant is a West African eatery with colorful art-filled walls serving a variety of Senegalese and other West African dishes. 6_1440061230_joloff_restaurant
Joire’s Spa Studio is a beauty salon that offers different types of hair extensions, full body waxing, teeth whitening, and Henna tattooing.


Joshua Dwain Photography is an international wedding photography husband and wife team. 

Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy is a community-based arts and cultural organization dedicated to supporting the creative, educational, and vocational development of disadvantaged youth and families. 


Greedi Vegan is a vegan restaurant that offers fast-casual vegan soul food.

Cafe Rue Dix is a French and Senegalese cafe, restaurant, and bar located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Marche Ru Dix is a trendy concept store featuring a curated selection of vintage clothing, jewelry & home goods.

by Tony O. Lawson

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