A Look Back at the First 13 Brands that
Set the Tone for thirteen lune
By Shayna Gonsalves, Beauty Concierge
“Never forgetting where we came from or who helped us to get here, we are shining a light on the First Thirteen, to whom we are forever grateful for helping us build the new standard for inclusivity.”
Thirteen Lune was launched in December 2020 with the desire to uplift Black and Brown brands while honoring the individual stories of their creators and allowing space for proven allies to help further the conversation around inclusivity.
Beginning with 13 brands, spanning hair care, skincare and grooming, thirteen lune laid the foundation for what would propel it into the leading retailer for inclusive beauty and emerging brands. That, coupled with the 90/10 rule of 90 percent BIPOC-founded and 10 percent ally-based brands, has steered the company into success seen primarily in its footprint at over 600 JCPenney stores and a newly opened flagship store in Los Angeles.
What was 13 is now over 160 brands available online and instore, cementing thirteen lune as the destination for discovery and inclusivity.
Never forgetting where and how this all began and who helped us get here, we’re highlighting the First Thirteen, who were the first to support thirteen lune in setting a new standard for inclusivity in beauty. Learn more about The First Thirteen brands and their founder’s incredible journeys.
When the Walker Boys first came up with the idea of AfroPick, they weren’t just looking to launch vibrant and colorful afro picks. For them, the afro pick was beyond just a styling tool for natural hair: it was also a symbol of the unity and strength in Black culture that told a much bigger story.
AfroPick’s beauty philosophy is simple: beauty is love. Love of oneself, everything that makes you unique. They follow this closely in their lives and in their definition of “beauty” as well.
Like many brands, Beija Flor Naturals was born of a personal need. When Stevonne Ratliff couldn’t find the right products to manage her skin discoloration and dryness on the shelves at her favorite beauty retailers, she set out to formulate her own products.
“It was a lot of trial and error. It takes years to nail a good formula. So, I had fun and took my time with it,” Ratliff says. She sought out ingredients that would address the issues she faced, and did it all with a personal touch. “A lot of companies just kind of go to a lab and get some turnkey solution, put a little flair on it, and turn it out. But I looked at the result I wanted and I picked each ingredient based on its properties.”
Lulu Cordero was 17 years old when she decided to go natural. She had embarked on a journey of educating herself on proper nutrition, becoming a vegetarian and making major lifestyle changes, including parting ways with harmful and unnecessary chemicals.
“Dominican culture loves hair so much. We all grew up making our own hair masks or seeing our moms do it, or our aunts. Even at the Dominican hair salon they were always mixing up a remedy and that is such an inextricable part of our culture and I wanted to honor it,” Cordero says. “But at the same time, I wanted to redefine beauty for our culture as well, because it is a culture that’s very Eurocentric, especially when it comes to hair and beauty standards. I wanted to show that same amount of love and celebration to our natural hair and our natural curls because, for the longest time — for generations — it was not celebrated. Why is that? We know why historically speaking. We know the history and the story behind it, but it was time to just start writing our stories anew and in our own way, to celebrate what needed to be celebrated. It was changing the narrative so the next generation has it better, knows better, and doesn’t continue that same message of “pelo malo” or feels bad about the features that come from their African ancestry.
From the age of 8, Dorion Renaud would experience first-hand the weekly grooming rituals of the customers in his father’s barber shop in Beaumont, Texas. “It was my introduction to self-care.”
As a teen, even with a primer in grooming, he was stumped when trying to control his acne prone skin and the subsequent scarring that many melanin rich skin tones struggle with. Walking into a local drugstore proved polarizing: from the placement of the product to the marketing surrounding it, Renaud witnessed aisles of personal care items centered on fair skin and ultimately not representative of himself.
After discovering how effective pure shea butter was for his skin (he would buy it raw and melt it down in his microwave) he became invested in creating a line of products that spoke to other people of color in both the formulas and the marketing.
Buttah was born as Renaud’s way of bestowing the same level of self-care and dedication to feeling confident he saw his father impart on his barber shop customers in a small town in Texas. “My dad is the first beauty entrepreneur I remember,” he says. “It was in his tradition to make people feel good.”
Renaud continues the tradition and has taken it to the next level with Buttah, which is a universal line of products that works on a vast array of skin tones and types and with advertisements and imagery that are inclusive of gender and ethnicity.
Charlotte Mensah’s approach to hair goes far beyond her craft — it’s a calling. The British-Ghanaian hairstylist with a career spanning almost three decades, has an A-list clientele. She’s not only won countless awards including becoming the first Black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame in 2018 — talk about major — but Mensah also has an impressive haircare line by the same name, formulated with organic, ethically and sustainably sourced oils, especially designed with textured hair in mind.
Her impetus to start her brand came from her clients. Mensah realized it was time to create what far too many women weren’t finding in the beauty market. “For too long, women with afro and curly hair textures have struggled to find products that work, smell nice, and are aesthetically pleasing,” she adds. “The way I decided on the manketti nut, well, that was serendipity! I had a job out in Kenya and got the most amazing full body massage. I had to investigate and soon became acquainted with the wonderful world of manketti nut.”
Mensah’s careful attention to detail and her appreciation for textured hair, ethically sourced ingredients, and self-care is evident in her luxurious Manketti Hair Oil. The rich oil blend created to hydrate curly and afro-textured hair, also soothes and nurtures the scalp, while leaving hair with a delicious boost of shine.
Dr. Mia Chae Reddy, founder of Dehiya Beauty, not only understands how beauty, culture, and identity often interconnect—in particular for women of color—but she’s also dedicated to encouraging women to embrace their true and authentic beauty rather than feeling the need to to conform to societal standards. Dehiya Beauty is named after one of the most powerful and fearless warriors in North Africa who continues to be remembered as the epitome of ancient beauty.
The brand prides itself in championing diverse and inclusive beauty through ethically sourced plant-based skincare. Best known for their hand-crafted Mihakkat exfoliating cleansing tool and the Aya Restorative Goddess Mask, Dehiya features products that honor traditional beauty rituals and key Moroccan ingredients like argan oil.
“Our beauty lies in our differences, our imperfections, our nuances and our vulnerabilities. Our beauty lies in the realness of accepting our “flaws” and owning what makes us unique. It is an ongoing internal conversation but it is one we should all be having with ourselves and then with other women.”
Body care is an art, and every artist needs proper tools. Gilded Body is on a mission to deliver the tools you need to perfect your most delicate canvas: your skin.
Finding a gap in the market when it comes to addressing the rest of the body’s largest organ, the skin, Blair Armstrong set out to fill a need by offering tools and products that elevate your body care routine. The line is inspired by “gilding,” defined by Armstrong as an “ancient and timeless beauty practice used to protect what is precious.”
“I'm definitely a less is more, classics over trends, and science over novelty type when it comes to beauty choices. I'm selective in what I add to my routine,” says Armstrong. This minimalist approach is reflected in Gilded Body’s suggested routine: brush, exfoliate, hydrate your way to skin that glows all over.
After years of struggling with hormonal acne and stubborn hyperpigmentation, Desiree Verdejo had tried just about every skincare product she could get her hands on to address her pressing skin concerns. But nothing worked. The breakouts continued and would often be followed by dark spots she couldn’t get rid of. “As a woman of color, I was really unimpressed with the way I saw people that looked like me spoken to and prioritized,” she tells Thirteen Lune. “So I set out to create a skincare brand that was steeped in multiculturalism and that was very hyper-targeted, and that is how Hyper Skin was born.”
Her beauty goal is to achieve results that are gentle and long-term. “These are products that you want to reach for because they’re gentle and because you know what to expect from them,” she says. “I also do have a strong view that effective products, effective skincare, and healthy skin in general should be accessible in terms of a price point. So while we are not the cheapest price in skincare — that’s not our goal — it is an aim to be accessible.”
LAUREN NAPIER BEAUTY
Lauren Napier’s philosophy spawned a brand that has taken the beauty industry by storm. More than just a makeup remover, Lauren Napier Beauty’s cleansing wipes are a skin care staple specially formulated to tackle issues ranging from acne to dryness. The brand’s founder, Lauren Napier, has firsthand knowledge of the ritual of makeup application and removal.
As she weathered the challenges of building a brand, Napier witnessed the lack of support that many black female founders experience. In the summer of 2020, she set out to do something about it. Of her advocacy, Napier said, “I launched Consider Something Better, to be a champion for women whose voices may not otherwise be heard, specifically Black women in the entrepreneurship space. We are challenging the corporations and conglomerates to give back through programs and monetary donations and grants to grow and scale businesses and to close the barrier of entry for these businesses.”
When Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan decided to continue on the Nigerian tradition of making beauty oils, African soaps, and shea butters from the nuts, tree barks, and plants that grow in their families’ native country, they didn’t actually anticipate it becoming an organic skin-care line with a cult-following in London.
The British duo, who both grew up in African households with roots tracing back to Nigeria, met in 1998 at university in the UK and bonded over culture and hair. The two learned about the magic behind shea butter when they were relatively young: in Nigeria, shea butter, which is made from the karite tree native to West Africa, is considered women’s gold. Some of Liha’s fondest childhood memories consist of being slathered from head to toe in shea butter, mixing oils in an abalone shell, and guessing essential oil fragrances on a rainy day in her aromatherapist mom’s shop.
After taking note of the lack of products they could find for their textures and melanated skin, the best friends began to swap African natural beauty remedies. From there, they started to create their own concoctions, which are what we now know as the Liha Beauty collection. The brand is very much influenced and inspired by Yoruba culture and the diaspora. Showcasing the beauty of Yoruba culture and the wealth of natural ingredients from West Africa, they continue to educate and fill the knowledge gap in the beauty industry about these powerful products.
MARIE HUNTER BEAUTY
Marie Hunter Beauty is on a mission to give modern women the confidence to be the best version of themselves by stripping away unnecessary excess and providing a minimal, luxurious alternative.
Growing up in Chicago, Marie Hunter’s founder, KéNisha Ruff, admired her parents’ beauty regimens for their simplicity. “My mom didn’t wear a ton of makeup, but she always wore lipstick or lipgloss. She didn’t need a full face of makeup, but a good lip color gave her a boost of confidence,” Ruff tells thirteen lune. “My dad on the other hand, his thing has always been skincare. So, of course, the first beauty products I became obsessed with were lip products and skincare.”
This influence is apparent in Marie Hunter’s offering—vibrant, eye-catching lip color and nourishing, carefully-crafted skincare, as well as luxe home fragrances, all presented in sleek packaging. “I’m inspired by Parisian beauty rituals and made it my mission to create a line of minimal, luxury beauty staples that could empower women to feel bolder.”
Toks Fahm Ajayi’s appreciation for all things beauty was ignited after she began traveling in her early 20s. Her African upbringing, combined with the beauty secrets she had learned abroad, introduced her to the art and sacredness of having a skincare ritual. But after years of putting everyone and everything before herself, Ajayi started to neglect her beauty needs, eventually suffering from hair loss, hyperpigmentation, and age spots.
Ajayi had stopped carving out time for herself and the stress and negligence was wreaking havoc on both her skin and hair. “I tried all I knew but nothing really worked. In looking for a solution to my skin problems, I realized the lack of safe products for women in my color, and in my age group with similar skin types,” she says.
In an effort to reset and get back to her old self, Ajayi embarked on a solo vacation to one of her favorite cities, Paris. She immediately scheduled a treatment at one of her favorite spas, followed by a long walk along the Seine, and that’s when she had her aha! moment. Why not create something inspired by her two favorite things—travel and beauty? SKÔT Beaute is the merging of her love for French beauty secrets, the African beauty rituals she grew up with, and the natural ingredients women from all around the world have used in their skincare routines for hundreds of years.
Beauty entrepreneur Essence Iman founded her body care brand, The Established, after years of struggling with keratosis pilaris, a condition that develops when the skin produces too much keratin, blocking hair follicles and causing small bumps to develop. Though painless, the condition often leaves skin with a rough sandpaper-like texture or “gooseflesh” appearance. For darker-skinned women it often results in hyperpigmentation around the hair follicles that can resemble tiny blackheads or dark blemishes. “I felt so much embarrassment around simple things like having my legs exposed at the beach and, like many people, I began to accept my embarrassing body care concerns as something I would continue to be frustrated by due to the lack of skincare options that were specific to me. It was sheer curiosity that prompted me to see what I could create on my own.”
After researching ingredients and experimenting with formulas, Iman eventually came up with her own that not only left her with silky smooth legs but eventually led to the creation of the product line that is now The Established. The entire collection is plant-powered, ethically sourced, 100% vegan, and cruelty-free. The brand’s mission is about approaching beauty in a wholesome and uniquely simple way with high-performing botanical ingredients that give real results.