Navigating the Retail Landscape as a Black-owned Beauty Brand
I’ll share a personal story on what it’s like to be a black-owned beauty brand navigating the retail world. Last year, I pitched our line of body care products to a regional retail chain. I had done my research and knew they didn’t carry products like ours. I knew this could be a great opportunity to help them expand their natural product offerings. The body care buyer liked our products but told me he couldn’t bring them in because they had another brand that was doing something similar. I asked him about the brand and did more research on my own. My research showed that the only thing we had in common was that both brands were owned by black women. Our unique selling propositions, brand stories, packaging, and product formulations were different. Without saying it directly, the gatekeeper had decided that only one black beauty brand could exist in his store. In some perverse way, his selection was not based on building a functional assortment of products but the race of the brand owners. I brought the issue to the buyer’s attention and went even further to explain that beyond my pain of dealing with this bias, he was hurting his stores.
Here’s what retailers are missing when they limit their product offerings
Just as K-Beauty products are not limited to women of Korean heritage, but deliver value to customers of all ethnicities, so it is with products created by women of color. Retailers do all their customers a disservice when they do not offer a variety of solutions.
Black-owned beauty brands are known for creativity and innovation driven by a need to create beauty solutions that are missing in the marketplace. These solutions not only meet the needs of black customers but that of a diverse group of potential customers.
Black customers' needs are marginalized when retailers limit the number of brands they have access to. Why should black customers have only one or two options to choose from while white customers have access to unlimited options? Like our white counterparts, black customers have diverse beauty needs that cannot possibly be met by just one brand.
My conclusion is that forward-thinking retailers will work on removing the blinders of ethnic and racial bias. They will embrace the ethos of #PulluporShutup and consider the merits of the 15% Pledge. They understand that to remain relevant and sustainable, they must do the right thing. Ultimately, they know that diversifying the beauty landscape means more satisfied customers, thriving brands, and more profits.