This is my prediction: soon (and very soon) women of color will collectively realize that we pretty much share the same beauty issues as one another and will begin to look for multiple ways to work together to demand inclusivity in the beauty industry. It’s pretty ironic, but many of us still separate our beauty concerns within the brown community. With Black women being pretty much the leading voice against the white-washing, non-inclusive beauty conversation many brands are still having, it’s easy to see beauty for Black women, and then beauty for white women, forgetting about the other women of color that share our struggles, too.
This is why the new beauty e-commerce store, Marjani Beauty, caught my eye and had me hooked. Despite being a #blackowned business (because you know we’re all about brands and companies that are for us and by us, Marjani is wrapping its arms around all women of color, boldly, under one online beauty roof.
Here’s something to note: there are a good amount of amazing beauty brands that are created for brown women, but it’s really hard to find them. Marjani Beauty, like one of our other favorite brown beauty stops, Vivrant Beauty, houses many of the brands specifically created for us so that we can have an easier shopping experience.
BB was able to grab an interview with the woman behind the business, Kimberly Smith, and get the true vision behind her online beauty dream space.
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Marjani means “coral” in Swahili. And the Arabic translation is ” one who is beautiful like precious coral”. When I read that, WOC (women of color) came to mind and it made me think of the beauty of our diversity. Our varying shades and 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.
There are a lot of e-commerce and/or beauty brands dedicated to Black women, specifically. And that’s amazing. But, do you think the future of beauty for women of color will move to catering to all Brown women?
I do believe so. For me when I say “beauty and cosmetics for women of color” I mean all women of color. I believe that as WOC we have similar experiences when it comes to beauty. For example, Latina women vary in their complexions from light to dark, Indian women vary in their complexions from light to dark, and so on. Tone diversity becomes challenging when you are looking for products that highlight your beauty rather than mask it. My goal with Marjani Beauty is to bring all women of color to the beauty conversation. And, to feature brands that understand our struggles and create products that address them from the beginning, not as an extension or special/limited edition.
What has been the biggest difficulty in bringing and introducing international products to local consumers in the U.S.?
The biggest difficulty with introducing international products can be the belief that if it is not made in the U.S. it is somehow inferior. But in our experience thus far, our international brands have been some of our best sellers. Part of our curation process is to assess the quality of products seeking to be featured on the Marjani platform. So we ensure that the products meet U.S. regulations pertaining to cosmetics and personal care products and U.S. import laws.
On the backend, what has been the hardest part about supporting the e-commerce structure?
I’ll say one of the biggest challenges is the nature of the products sold. When it comes to beauty and cosmetics, consumers want to try/touch/feel/smell products before fully committing.
Through Marjani, brands have a place where their products are highlighted and directed to their exact demographic. And for the first time, WOC consumers have a website where all of the products that are created specifically for them [are housed].
How do you plan to create an authentic e-commerce experience when beauty is all about testing and trying out products in-person and in real time?
Our goal is to go beyond the retail experience and create a community. Part of that strategy is reaching and meeting the consumer in real time. We will host events, have pop-up shops and do brand collaboration events. We just recently finished doing Beautycon NYC with AJ Crimson Beauty. Next month we are hosting a foundation matching event in DC. Also, we launched our “Buy It Try It” Foundation Match program in April. This allows customers to receive a free foundation sample so that they can try it before committing to the wrong shade. This also gives access to brands not accessible in local markets or mass retailers. We have 3 foundation brands and collectively 23 shades. All three are brands that created a foundation specifically for WOC. We could incorporate some sort of subscription system in future as well, using recurring billing, so that people can try things and then order it in a monthly or bi-monthly basis through a subscription. It’s something to explore.
What do you feel indie brands struggle with the most in the market?
I think it is the lack of exposure and “popularity”. What is so exciting about this, what excites me most, is learning about so many brands that I had never heard of before prior to starting Marjani. There are brands that are making such good products, but because they are not sold at mass retailers or owned by a large cosmetic company, they often go unnoticed. That is what I want to change. There are many of us that are open to trying out new brands, we’re just not aware of them. So that is what Marjani is all about, bringing national and international indie brands directly to women of color.
Follow Marjani Beauty on Instagram and make your first purchase!