CHECKING IN WITH OUR FAVORITE BRAND FOUNDERS & INNOVATORS
By Faith Cummings
As our co-founder Nyakio Grieco stated so beautifully on Instagram, “I truly believe that every month is empowered by Black History.” It’s such an exciting time in the beauty industry because we are taking leaps and bounds towards true equity and both the space and our lives are better for it.
There is absolutely no doubt that one of the communities that continues to push the needle forward year after year, decade after decade, and generation after generation is Black women. From the industrious and unparalleled talent of Madam C.J. Walker to today’s league of extraordinary entrepreneurs and innovators, there is a rich and storied legacy in beauty that Black women have helped pave.
Our ideas have so often risen out of voids seen in the market, from formulations that need to better consider melanated skin to products that seek to nourish all hair textures, from straight to coiled. Those innovations have in turn helped customers feel recognized and reflected and have expanded what the beauty industry has to offer—emboldening and encouraging more novel thinkers to become creators and founders down the line.
From makeup essentials inspired by the richness of Senegal to products that help you take the day off and celebrate your natural skin, we talked to the Black women behind thirteen lune’s favorite brands for part two of our series about the future of beauty. We’re sharing their thoughts, in their own words.
Diarrha N'Diaye-Mbaye - Founder & CEO of Ami Colé
“My experience in the beauty industry has always been unique as a minority in the room. Today I am in different rooms and bigger rooms and I’m thrilled that I’m in the position to incite change among my peers.
When I think of who inspires me today, I’d have to say Rihanna. I am always moved when she shares her excitement for beauty, the arts, and this specific ‘Black girl thriving’ energy. She delivers a message in her presence, but it’s the Bajan accent for me. Being first generation, it’s always inspiring to see someone build a dream come true that is authentic to who they are.
On the Industry
As the industry evolves, I want to see more equity. We have, as an industry, realized the lack of diversity in both offering and marketing storytypes. We’re often grouped as a monolith, with a singular path to how we approach beauty. We are just now starting to see versatility in storytelling, while facing the challenge of systemic change. Along with the 15 Percent Pledge, we are leaning on our partners to provide the tools and knowledge for us to not only exist but thrive in the new spaces we are stepping into. In a lot of ways, our brand partners and legacy brands have had a traditional head start in the game. In the future, I’d love to see what equity means on a tactical level as we continue to push diversity and inclusion.”
Charlotte Mensah - Creative Director of Hair Lounge & Founder of Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Hair Products
“The landscape changes so quickly today and it's definitely better than when I first started out in beauty, but we still have a long way to go. There's still a fight to get our products into stores and displayed in a way that allows shoppers to actually see them. I think it’s the tone from the top that makes it difficult. When it comes to those who are in the position to make decisions, we rarely see any diversity, which is hard to navigate. But it’s amazing to see platforms like Thirteen Lune shining a spotlight on and giving visibility to Black & Brown-owned products and founders. I can only anticipate that this is just the beginning of an exciting journey.
All of the incredible Black women I meet in my day-to-day life inspire me the most. From the people who sit in my chair at the salon, let loose, relax and feel comfortable to have real conversations with me to the mentees at my charity, LOVE Naa Densua Foundation, who have such a zest for life in the face of hardship and uncertainty. My mentees face so much adversity, yet still they show up every day with passion, optimism, and drive. They have managed to make space in their hearts despite it all.
On the Industry
I ultimately want support for Black businesses to be second nature to everyone and to be celebrated cross-culturally.”
Sienna Brown - Founder & CEO of Glosshood
“As a Black founder in the beauty industry, I’ve often felt very isolated and lonely. But I can honestly say that since entering the Thirteen Lune family, all of that has turned around. The way the team uplifts its founders and makes sure our voices are heard is the change that needs to be talked about on a loudspeaker for the entire industry. There is something extremely special being cultivated here at Thirteen Lune and I’m happy to be here!
Hands down, my friends are what inspires me today. They’re my chosen family and they mean the world to me. There’s a core group of about twelve people who serve as my biggest inspiration. They’re brilliant creators and transparent lovers. I know I can find light in them and share my deepest revelations of self. They are home for me and the fuel that keeps me going.
On the Industry
On the whole, I want to see more fun from the beauty industry—whether that be in products, branding, or shoots. I understand leaning into simplicity and serenity because it’s clean and gives the ultimate luxury vibe, but I want people to understand that fun is luxury. As the industry becomes more inclusive, I want to feel the actual personalities of creators. I believe that’s where the magic lies.”
Lauren Napier – Founder & CEO of Lauren Napier Beauty
“I am always inspired by Black women’s ability to create a trend that is seen and emulated globally. I have a massive following of women of all cultures and backgrounds, but Black women are always the first women there to support, uplift, and create a trend. The future of beauty and wellness is Black women.
There is not just one industry that inspires me as I am a woman of the arts. So when the world opens, I want to be invited to everything! I am excited by the acknowledgment of Black fashion designers and tastemakers and I am inspired by Black artists who are filling museums. I am inspired by Black writers whose voices and perspectives are being heard. I am inspired by Black people in film and television who are sharing Black stories. I am inspired by the physicality and grace of Black athletes. I am inspired by the profound passion and dedication of Black activists who so bravely live on the front line and are forces for change. I am fully inspired by the creativity, jubilation, and comedy that comes from the spirit of this culture. As a collective, we have experienced some of the most challenging times in the last century, but I believe creativity flourishes in dark times. I can’t wait to live through the next Black Renaissance.
On the Industry
It’s important that the beauty industry lives up to the statements it made in the summer of 2020. A lot of lip service was paid and now, it’s time to hire and pay Black creatives, founders, professionals, and scientists to authentically speak to and service the legion of beauty consumers.”