Beauty runs deep in Mary Louise Cosmetics founder Akilah Mary-Louise Releford’s family. Her grandmothers Mary (maternal), and Louise (paternal), would create remedies from all natural ingredients and inspired Releford to do the same.
The Los Angeles native’s DIY approach started from her dorm room at Howard University where she would make products for friends and other students. When she found she was spending more time making products than doing chemistry homework, she knew then that starting a business was about to be a dream realized.
Soon, Mary Louise Cosmetics was born and Releford takes the same approach as when she started. The brand is steeped in accessible, fun and clean skincare, with a tightly curated line focusing on nourishing the skin as well as addressing issues like hyperpigmentation. The Miracle Serum addresses acne scarring and dark spots and ingredients like turmeric and honey are highlighted as heroes throughout the line.
Here, Releford talks about her start and how she keeps a work life balance during this busy time.
Get to Know – Akilah Mary-Louise Releford
Do you have a beauty philosophy? What is it?
I believe that everyone should have fun with beauty and experience it on their own terms.
What were some of your first memories of beauty growing up? What are some early beauty influences? (family/relatives, culture, era, location)
Seeing my other do her makeup each morning at her vanity and her skincare routine each evening were some of my first memories of beauty. Watching her perform these rituals made me fall in love with self care.
What does self-care look like in your life?
Now that I’m in my mid twenties, self care looks like daily meditation, eating all of my greens, daily exercise, and putting on a great face mask!
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
Listening to founder stories inspires me the most. It reminds me that a great business is so much more than just it’s products.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Finding that perfect work life balance. When you start a business as a solo founder, your company can quickly become your entire life. It’s so important to set boundaries.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Creating a community of amazing people who love natural skincare just as much as I do! :)
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
I would love to see more skincare lines/products that cater to men of color, so it makes me happy now seeing more and more skincare/self care companies emerge that cater to this demographic.