Browse Tag

skincare

10 mins read

Melanin as a Wellness Superpower: Pholk Beauty’s Approach

Pholk Beauty is a skincare brand dedicated to revolutionizing the beauty industry for women of color. In this interview, we delve into the inspiring journey of Niambi Cacchioli, the brand’s founder.

From her Kentucky roots to her academic pursuits and a profound commitment to holistic skincare, Niambi shares the values and vision that drive Pholk Beauty to redefine the standards of skin health.

pholk beauty
Niambi Cacchioli, founder of Pholk Beauty

I’m an African Diaspora historian, an esthetician, and a 5th-generation African American cultivator from the Southern US. I launched Pholk to help women of color end our frustrating and skin damaging cycle of hyperpigmentation treatments.  Growing up in Kentucky, the women in my family taught me how to use the colorful superfoods in our gardens to nourish me on the inside and out.

While living in Europe for over a decade as a researcher of the African Diaspora in the Middle East, the remedies I whipped up in my kitchen or bought at the local apothecary helped me feel confident in my own skin.  From Iran to Senegal, my favorite way to connect with Black communities during my travel was through plants.  I’d delight in learning about local Black Diaspora herbalism traditions from artisans and healers.

When I moved back to the US, I couldn’t find holistic and gentle products to balance my oily combination skin.  As a researcher, I wanted to better understand what the skincare industry is missing. Taking matters into my own hands, I apprenticed with herbal farmers, went to beauty school, and leaned into my love for Black Diaspora heirloom botanicals.

That’s the origin story of Pholk. However, in 2020, while the country was going through a national reckoning, I had my own personal reckoning.  Breonna Taylor was from my hometown, Louisville, Ky. And while I was personally receiving opportunities and recognition as a Black beauty founder, I felt like most folks didn’t know much about Kentucky.

And often, people would say to me that they didn’t realize that Black folk were in Kentucky. I took a hard look at my brand messaging about the cultural roots of Pholk and decided that I needed to put my own Afro-Appalachian roots at the heart of the company. It’s felt like a homecoming.

What does holistic skincare mean to you and how does it guide your product development?

Skincare can be really confusing.  The fact that the skincare industry is placed in the beauty category rather than health and wellness is in and of itself misleading.  Skin is our largest organ. It protects us from the environment, UV rays, disease and bacteria, water, mitigates climate, and passes along signals to all the other body systems about the world around us.

I know I put on my academic hat for that response, but it honestly baffles me that such a sophisticated organ is often treated like an accessory. Also, if an ingredient is small enough it will pass through all layers of skin and be absorbed into the bloodstream. When I went to esthetician school, I was shocked at the lack of education on how ingredients interact with each other and affect our overall health. And the education on melanin function? Practically zero.

After that experience, I did a very deep dive into melanin biology and discovered that melanin’s skin benefits go much deeper than the skin. It supports our immune system, is rich in antioxidants, and provides some UV light protection. There’s even research that shows that it transforms sunlight into energy for the body.

For me, as the climate gets hotter and the air more polluted,  we’re all going to need our melanin – regardless of our background.  At the same time, I want to meet my customers where they’re at. And that means, creating healthy, safe products that address hyperpigmentation and textured skin.

Holistic skincare for melanin-rich skin addresses the root causes of hyperpigmentation.  My goal is to help them end their frustrating cycle of fading dark spots by addressing the root causes of hyperpigmentation.  Right now, skincare treats melanin like it’s a problem to solve and markets products with melanin inhibitors as part of daily skincare.

At Pholk, we see dark spot correctors as a treatment, not as a daily skincare product. Instead, we prioritize hydration with alcohol-free mists, gentle cleansers to get rid of acne-causing bacteria and hardened sebum in your pores, and lightweight non-clogging moisturizers to seal in your hydration. Did I mention hydration? LOL!  And here’s the beauty of it. As someone who has prioritized hydration and used natural superfood ingredients for over 30 years, I’m headed into my 50s with supple, ageless glowy skin.

Supporting Black farmers is an important part of your brand’s ethos. How do you ensure fair and equitable relationships with these farmers in your supply chain?

As the granddaughter of farm folk from the Deep South, 2020’s social change movement here in the US inspired me to lean into my green heritage and bring new opportunities to overlooked Black rural communities.

Building our domestic supply chain began with fieldwork. Literally!  I traveled throughout the Southeast and met with independent Black farmers in their fields and communities to better understand their barriers to expanding into the beauty market.

Here, my expertise as an African Diaspora researcher and community builder has been key.  Inspired by the re-emergence of co-operatives in rural Black communities, I established close partnerships with Black-led CSAs across Kentucky, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

This work has enabled me to increase my domestic sourcing from 8% to 22% of overall ingredients with the goal of reaching 40% by 2026.  Together, with my network of Black, BIPOC, and Appalachian women ingredient producers, we are reimagining regional heirloom farming opportunities for the next generation.

Sustainability is increasingly important in the skincare industry. How does Pholk Beauty approach sustainability, both in terms of sourcing ingredients and packaging?

I have some really exciting growth opportunities happening in 2024 and scaling our sustainability mission was a huge challenge for me. The first step was actually sunsetting some of our products. And it’s a process that will continue until the end of the year. When you start as a community-based brand founder like Pholk, it’s common to create products around the requests of your customers.

But as the brand grew, I quickly found it wasn’t sustainable for me or the independent farmers that I work with to scale a lot of different ingredients. This year, I also made some formulation changes to increase the number of domestically sourced ingredients.

This is a process that will continue to happen as my Afro-Appalachian supply change grows.  That means fresher botanicals for customers and significantly offsets our international freight. As for packaging, it’s a process. We’ll continue to use glass for our balms and are working with a local bottle printer to print direct-to-bottle for a Spring packaging refresh.

What are your future goals and aspirations for Pholk Beauty?

Pholk’s mission is to reclaim melanin as our skin’s wellness superpower. For me it’s essential to make our skincare available to folks throughout the African Diaspora with distribution points in France, the UK the Caribbean and Africa.

In 5 years I foresee Pholk having a manufacturing depot in Senegal to mitigate the freight costs of supplying to Africa and Europe. Pholk is a love letter to the generations of Black Diaspora herbalists who have infused our globe with healing and beauty.  It’s my goal to advocate for holistic skin health within the cultures that have inspired the brand.

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2 mins read

Black-Owned Skincare Brand,Topicals Raises $10 Million

Topicals is a Black-owned skincare brand devoted to solving chronic skin issues such as hyperpigmentation, eczema, and psoriasis.

Topicals was founded in 2020 and has grown 675% in sales year-over-year as of November 2022.

Today, the company announced $10 million in new financing to continue the innovative production and sufficiency of the brand. The funding round was led by CAVU Consumer Partners.

The historic occasion marks Founder and CEO Olamide Olowe as the youngest Black woman ever to raise more than two million in venture-backed funding.

The funding will be used to further propel Topicals’ omnichannel growth, drive new hires, support channel expansion, and fuel brand marketing awareness.

“I love to keep the company fresh and new, with [employees] who understand beauty or maybe who don’t understand beauty but are coming in with a different point of view,” said Olowe. “We’re looking for people from different industries who can continue pushing a cultural narrative but also have experience because scaling a business is a bit formulaic.”

The company will also continue its mission of raising awareness around the connection between mental health and skin conditions.

To date, Topicals has donated more than $50,000 to support nonprofits providing mental health resources for marginalized communities. To expand this mission, Topicals is launching a 12-month accelerator program designed to provide nonprofits in the mental health space with leadership training, mentorship, and business advisory.

In addition to CAVU, Topicals has garnered an extremely diverse portfolio of investors including Gabrielle UnionKelly RowlandHannah Bronfman, Bozoma Saint John, Yvonne Orji, and Marcy Venture Partners.

Topicals has now raised a total of $15 million in outside funding to date.

-Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Scotch Porter CEO Discusses Growing the Largest Black Owned Men’s Grooming Brand

Scotch Porter is a New Jersey-based company that makes handcrafted, vegan, and all-natural men’s grooming products.

The company’s mission is “To provide healthier, multi-purpose beard, hair, and face care products that are highly effective and easy to use.” 

Within the first 12 months of operation, Scotch Porter generated more than a million dollars in sales and has been growing rapidly ever since with distribution in major retailers such as Target and Walmart.

In this interview, Calvin Quallis, Scotch Porter’s founder and CEO, shares:

  • How his entrepreneurial relatives inspired him to start Scotch Porter
  • The secrets behind his company’s growth
  • How he plans to use a recent $11 million investment
  • Some of his personal wellness practices
  • The mission behind the Scotch Porter Impact Fund
  • Advice for entrepreneurs who want to scale their businesses

 

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1 min read

Raised $11 Million to Develop and Launch Celeb-led Brands

In this Black Executive Spotlight, we’re speaking with Martin Ekechukwu, Chief Strategy Officer at A-Frame brands.

A-Frame Brands is a Los Angeles-based holding company developing a portfolio of discreet, talent-led sustainable personal care brands.

In March, A-Frame announced an $11.2 million funding round led by Forerunner Ventures and Initialized Capital, to help it create and grow more brands.

Their current portfolio includes Kinlò, Naomi Osaka’s suncare line for melanin-rich skin, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade’s baby line Proudly, and a skincare brand from John Legend in the works.

In this episode Martin shares:

  • His thoughts on the difference between an influencer and a celebrity.
  • The reasons why an influencer or celeb-owned brand launch may not be successful.
  • The keys behind a successful product launch.
  • Advice for those with a following and plans to launch their own product.

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2 mins read

Black Owned Beauty Brand Receives $1.2 Million Investment

Herb’N Eden, an all-natural bath and beauty company, based in the Metro Atlanta area, has closed a $1.2M investment for business growth. Quinton and Terran Lewis founded Herb’N Eden in 2015 to bring natural skincare products to the forefront of the market.

Mercantile Venture Capital led the investment with participation from The Core Venture Studio.

This new funding will amplify their efforts, enabling them to efficiently meet the demands of their rapidly growing clientele without sacrificing what makes them so successful: their all-natural therapeutic products.

“Through our tremendous growth, we still maintained the same formula and process of making our products,” says Terran Lewis. “We know Black-owned businesses face challenges around funding and equitable partnerships. For us, it was important we remain the majority owners and stay faithful to the tried-and-true process our supporters count on us for.”

Before receiving this funding, Herb’N Eden received remarkable success through grassroots efforts such as in-house marketing, hiring local workers for their warehouse and store, and maintaining the direction of the product development. Investors were attracted by their ability to sustain growth beyond the pandemic year while remaining risk-averse and prioritizing customer communications.

“From $260,000 in 2020 to $2.6M closing out 2021, during the pandemic, is remarkable,” said co-founder and managing partner at The Core Venture Studio James Harris, one of the lead investors. “Their ability to scale their company while strengthening their relationship with their loyal customers drove Core’s decision to invest in the Herb’N Eden team.”

Quinton Lewis notes that the pandemic tested their resiliency. Rather than stop business when orders were backed up for months, they overly communicated updates to customers. As a result, they were able to see sustainable growth.

“It’s amazing to see what we could accomplish in such a short amount of time,” says Quinton. “In two to five years, we hope to continue to scale our business with the resources and connections made while also investing into the dreams of other Black entrepreneurs.”

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3 mins read

Bolden is on a Mission To Change The Way We Care For our Skin

Bolden is a Black-owned skincare brand on a mission to embolden women around the world by celebrating their natural beauty.

Founders, Chinelo and Ndidi originally met as high school classmates in Nigeria but lost touch after Ndidi switched schools. Little did they know how their paths would cross again and culminate in becoming not only business partners but sisters-in-law.

Using the best ingredients to create the most effective formulations, their goal is to create a sense of empowerment, confidence, and pride among all women. Believing that true beauty comes from feeling good in your own skin, they named their brand Bolden from the word embolden.

We caught up with them to find out more about their business.

bolden
Ndidi Obidoa (in yellow) & Chinelo Chidozie (in green)

What inspired you to start your business?

The aha moment for Chinelo and Ndidi happened after a bad sunscreen experience while on vacation in Key West, Florida. The resulting frustration presented a problem solving opportunity for lifelong beauty enthusiasts.
Both with MBA’s, Ndidi’s from MIT and Chinelo’s is from the University of Maryland, they created a brand that would represent women that looked like them in terms of product selection, images, and messaging about our beautiful skin.

What makes your products unique?

Our customers feel seen. They know every product we make started with them in mind. We are providing clinical formulations that tackle the primary skin concerns of Black women at affordable price points.

How did you raise funding for your business?

So far, we have not taken any outside funding. We’ve self-funded and reinvested to grow the business.
bolden

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Continuing to serve Black women with our products and our message. We want to be the brand of choice for Black women around the world.

What is one lesson you’ve learned as a business owner that you’d like to pass on to other entrepreneurs?

You can always start where you are. There’s never a perfect time, you’ll never have complete information, and you won’t have all the money you need. Start where you are and continue to improve.
3 mins read

5 Ways You Can Avoid Being Ashy This Fall

It’s time to say goodbye to sticky, sweaty skin and the summer heat! Because the cooler months are quickly approaching, whether you’re ready or not. But, as great as pumpkin spice lattes, cozy sweaters, and “cuffing” season are to look forward to in the fall, you might’ve noticed that your skin isn’t as fond of the cooler weather.

ashy

During the winter, especially, your skin is prone to more flare-ups, dryness, or irritation due to dry, cool air outside and indoor heat that zaps the moisture out of the surrounding air and your skin.

That’s why fall is the perfect time to start paying closer attention to your skin’s hydration to prepare for the inevitable. So keep reading to learn how you can help your skin retain moisture, and most importantly, avoid being ashy this fall!

Avoid taking hot showers or baths

An extra hot shower sounds nice on a cool day, but the truth is, hot water actually dries out the skin as it strips away the skin’s natural oils. So instead of taking a steaming hot shower, keep your skin as moisturized as possible by opting for lukewarm showers that last no more than 10 minutes.

Apply moisturizer as soon as you cleanse and dry your skin

Unfortunately, your skin will release its moisture unless you trap it in with a sealant. So, if you want your skin to be ash-free for as long as possible during the day, don’t skip on this step. Apply a generous amount of moisturizer to the skin within a few minutes of washing your face or stepping out of the shower.

ashy

Add moisture to your space with a humidifier

We know that dry air makes for dry skin, so bring the moisture to you by plugging in a humidifier. Not only will your skin thank you, but your houseplants will love it too!

Don’t go without lip balm

Dry, chapped lips are uncomfortable and even painful at times. Keep your lips moisturized and cared for by including lip balm or petroleum jelly in your skincare routine. If a lip balm stings or burns when you apply it, that’s your cue to switch to a different product.

Exfoliate less

Exfoliating is excellent for getting rid of dead skin cells and making your skin soft and supple. However, exfoliation also strips the skin of its natural oils in the process. So to avoid drying out your skin, it’s best to cut back on exfoliation during the cooler months.

Final thoughts

Keeping your skin moisturized during the fall is essential, and it’ll prepare your skin to shoulder the even colder months ahead. So stay hydrated and hone these tips this fall for healthy, moisturized skin!

Written by Reese Williams


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5 mins read

A Five-Step Skincare Routine Guide For Beginners

If you’re not into skincare yet, it’s time to step up your personal care. A consistent skincare routine helps keep your skin happy and healthy, and it’s the perfect excuse to show yourself some much-needed TLC two times a day.

Everyone’s skin is different, so naturally, every skincare routine will be unique to the individual. However, every skincare regime should consist of the most basic steps that you’ll learn about below. So, if you’re ready to take your self-care to the next level, here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a simple skincare routine.

Step 1: Cleanser

Cleansing your skin helps eliminate dirt, sweat, and other impurities that rest on your face and clog your pores. If all else fails in your skincare routine, this step is the most important. You can pick out the right skincare for yourself by assessing your skin type (oily, dry, or normal) and your skin concerns.

How often should I cleanse my face?

You should cleanse your face at least twice a day, once in the morning and then again at night. If you’re active, be sure to wash your face immediately following a workout to cleanse the skin of sweat and other dirt.

 Step 2: Toner

Toners are liquid-based products that can help tighten the pores, exfoliate the skin, and provide additional cleaning. Some skincare experts say this step isn’t essential, but toners come in handy for giving the skin some additional nutrients.

How often should I apply toner?

Always apply your toner after cleansing your skin and before applying serums. Usually, toners are best used by soaking a cotton pad or ball with the product and then gently spreading the product over the face.

 Step 3: Serums

Time for the fun part! Think of serums as the “treatment” part of your skincare routine because these powerful products directly target the skin’s concerns by deeply penetrating the skin.

When do I apply serums?

Every serum is uniquely made to address everyday skincare problems, so it’s best to read the bottle for instructions. In addition, some serums require night-use only or morning, so it’s crucial to follow the directions on the package to make sure your serums are working for you and not against you.

Step 4: Moisturizer

Depending on the time of day, this is your final step in a basic skincare regimen. Applying your moisturizer at the end of your routine helps keep your skin hydrated and supple.

When do I apply moisturizer?

You should use a moisturizer every time you cleanse your skin. Light moisturizers are great for daily use, but you can opt for thicker creams for the nighttime.

Step 5: SPF

Contrary to popular belief, those of us with dark skin are still vulnerable to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Therefore, it’s crucial for everyone to wear sunscreen daily, whether it’s cloudy or sunny out. The sun can cause premature aging, wrinkles, and, even worse, skin cancer. So, the secret to keeping your melanin poppin’ is slathering on the SPF!

When do I apply SPF?

Apply your SPF in the morning as the final step of your skincare routine. If you wear makeup, your SPF goes on before you start makeup application. Squeeze a generous amount, and apply two fingers (index finger and pointer finger) worth of sunscreen to both your face and neck.

Ready to get your skincare TLC on? Well, now you know exactly where to start, and you can continue to build on your routine from here. Happy skincare!

 

Use code SHOPPEBLK for a FREE sampler pack of several different herbal soaps from Herb’N Eden

3 mins read

The Best Skincare Solutions For 3 Common Skin Concerns

Here’s a sad truth: No one’s skin is perfect 100% of the time.

And chances are, you’re reading this article because you’re dealing with some skincare problems yourself! While finding the right products to tackle your skincare concerns can be a real challenge, you’ve come to the right place. Skincare troubles such as acne, dry skin, or hyperpigmentation are never fun to deal with, so here’s your guide to skincare solutions for three common skin problems.

For Dry Skin

Is dry, flaky skin keeping you down? Well, not for much longer! Your skin can become dehydrated from over-washing, hard air, irritants, and more. However, no matter the cause, maintaining a consistent skincare regimen can help you turn things around. So keep your skin moisturized by making the following changes to your routine:

  • Use a hydrating cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin of natural oils
  • Use an alcohol-free toner to restore your skin’s pH
  • Use a daily moisturizer
  • Reach for products with hyaluronic acid high on the ingredients list

For Hyperpigmentation

Unfortunately for us melanated folks, dark spots are more likely to develop on our skin. Those pesky spots are often the results of hormonal changes, sun damage, or acne. If you’ve been unsuccessful at getting rid of your dark spots, these tips targeted for black skin are sure to help you out:

  • Wear sunscreen daily to prevent dark spots from getting even darker
  • Incorporate vitamin C in your routine as it helps increase collagen and reduces the formation of melanin to prevent hyperpigmentation
  • Use hydroquinone, the holy grail topical that helps lighten dark spots
  • Treat the underlying cause of hyperpigmentation, i.e. melanated, acne
  • Wait it out as hyperpigmentation fades over time

For Acne

There’s nothing like a new zit that suddenly appears on your face to ruin a great day. So just imagine how awesome it would be if acne magically disappeared for us all after the adolescent years. It’s a nice thought, but sadly, acne can still rear its ugly head years after high school graduation.

Whether your breakouts are due to stress, irritants, or just genetics, here’s some advice to remedy your acne troubles:

  • Always avoid touching your face with unclean hands
  • Use a cleanser with salicylic acid daily to unclog pores
  • Use retinol to keep pimples at bay
  • Reach for gentle toners to wipe away oil
  • Use antibacterial gels or cleansers that contain benzoyl peroxide to kill surface bacteria that causes acne

Hopefully, you use these tips above to help yourself get started in the right direction on your skincare journey because annoying skincare problems are just that: annoying.

So, keep your skin on track and more issues at bay by taking charge to address your problem areas!

Use code SHOPPEBLK for a FREE sampler pack of several different herbal soaps from Herb’N Eden

1 min read

How Herb’N Eden Became a Multi Million Dollar Skincare Business During a Pandemic

Herb’N Eden is a popular line of all-natural, plant-based skincare products founded by husband and wife team, Quinton and Terran Lewis.

Herb’N Eden

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Where and how Herb’N Eden began.
  • What factors contributed to going from $260K in sales in 2019 to $2.7 million in 2020.
  • How they were able to successfully manage this rapid growth.
  • How their different personalities help them succeed as business partners.
  • What advice they have for other entrepreneurs.

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Tony O. Lawson


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