On my journey with @Bar London, I have come across some like-minded entrepreneurs and businesses. One of these amazing individuals is none other the founder of Marjani Beauty Company.
We cross the pond to the USA and speak to Kimberly Smith, CEO & Founder of Marjani Beauty Company, about diversity in the beauty industry and bringing COLOR to Beautiful.
What motivated/inspired you to start Marjani Beauty?
This company was borne from the desire to create a space and platform where the collective diversity of women of color is celebrated. There is no one size fits all when it comes to women of color and their hair, skin and cosmetic needs. We are constantly breaking the mirrored vanity when it comes to the “ideal standards” of beauty. All the while, majority brands fail to keep up or even attempt to fulfill our diverse needs.
How did you settle on the name choice?
Marjani means “coral” in Swahili. And the Arabic translation is “one who is beautiful like precious coral”. When I read that WOC came to mind and it made me think of the beauty in our diversity…our varying shades & complexions, hair textures, sizes, ethnicities, etc. This is why our motto is “Bringing COLOR to Beautiful”. Bringing our diversity to the traditional, one-note standard of beauty.
Where is your business based?
It is 100% digital but I am based in Washington, DC (USA)
Describe/outline your typical day?
I start by day by creating a to-do list for that day. Standing daily items are: check email, check productivity reports, check social media. I watch a little news. Then I begin executing my to-do list. This is bad but I may or may not have breakfast. Because the business is digital I am flexible on where I choose to work on any given day.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I first researched what was currently existed that matched what I wanted to do/create. When I found that it didn’t exist I then started research Indie brands for women of color and created a target list of brands I wanted to carry on the store. Simultaneously I started thinking of a name and an overall mission statement/goals to guide me from idea to actual launch.
How/where did you make your first sale?
We made our first sale when we launched on January 31st 2017. Thanks so some very supportive friends and family 😊
How do you generate new ideas?
I approach the business from a consumer perspective, not just as a business owner. Prior to starting this business I was already a beauty junkie. So a lot of the ideas come from what I’ve always wanted to see from a beauty boutique. I also stay up to date on current trends. I also reach out to current and potential customers to inquire what their needs are, what they want to see and what does/doesn’t work.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
The women of color beauty market is extremely underserved. So my focus isn’t on competition, rather I am focused on providing a solution to the problem.
How many hours do you work on your business on a daily basis?
I am very task driven. Daily, I identify what I want to get accomplished. That drives my day. So one day may be a 4 hour day dedicated to completing a particular task or another day may be a 10 hour day. I measure work in terms of “productivity”.
What has been the best way/method that you have used to create awareness of your business and reaching potential customers?
Social media has been the best way to create awareness. I started using social media prior to the launch to gain traction and anticipation. I believe social media is a great tool to begin creating an overall marketing plan.
What has been your greatest challenge to date and how did you overcome this challenge?
I think the biggest challenge has been understanding digital marketing. As a small business owner you do a lot of the work yourself. This is where continuing education comes in and understanding the value of outsourcing. Any area where I decide to engage a contractor, I want to first have basic knowledge so I know exactly what I need and how best to measure the effectiveness of the services rendered.
How important it is for women of colour to be represented in beauty campaigns by the major beauty brands?
I think it is important that beauty campaigns reflect what todays’ global world looks like. By only presenting one particular segment you effectively ignore a large population. A large population which outspend their white counterparts in beauty & personal care products by the way. But while I do want us to be represented, I don’t believe we need to wait for the mainstream to make it happen. We can create, retell and control our own beauty narrative.
What more do you think can be done to make women of colour feel included in the mainstream beauty world?
I personally think it’s less about seeking inclusion from mainstream, rather, it’s about creating our own lane. Without restrictions or compromises, being unapologetically us and letting the mainstream take notice. I think it’s a passive approach to seek inclusion.
What are you currently learning about your business?
I’m currently learning how to make effective Facebook ads. Which is related to the challenge mentioned above. I identified the challenge, now I’m working on the resolution…learning.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting an e- beauty boutique aimed at the woman of colour?
Simply…follow your passion.
Would you do anything differently?
Not at all. I believe everything happens for a reason.
What good article or book have you read recently that has inspired you?