Being an entrepreneur is a risk at any time; being a Black entrepreneur during a year plagued by a global pandemic and racial injustices is even more challenging. Black Canadians have not only seen higher COVID-19 infection rates than other communities, but greater economic impact. To address some of the longstanding inequalities, the recently announced federal Black Entrepreneurship Program will see investments of up to $221 million to support Black-owned businesses. It’s a welcome show of solidarity that will allow more Black entrepreneurs to follow their dreams — much like the founders on the list below.
These Black-owned brands, all based in and around Toronto, have been blazing trails in makeup, hair and skincare. Inspired by personal experiences with a variety of health and beauty issues, these founders tackled gaps in the market for quality products that address the needs of Black women. Many of them use natural ingredients and make their products by hand, offering natural solutions to problems like hyperpigmentation and dehydration. Read on to discover nine game-changing products and the brands behind them.
Makeup For Melanin Girls (MFMG)
The Power Palette, $43 (on sale for $26), makeupformelaningirls.com
Former model and founder Tomi Gbeleyi experienced firsthand how difficult it was to be on set with white makeup artists who weren’t prepared to work with Black skin. She started an Instagram account and blog highlighting beauty vloggers of colour called Makeup For Melanin Girls. Today, MFMG is a thriving beauty community and makeup brand designed to complement Black and brown skin. The Power Palette offers 12 of their popular eyeshadow pods: six shimmer, six matte. The colours are bold and bright, inspired by powerful women in history with names like Rosa, Michelle, Shirley and more.
Rich, U.S.$66.50, yourjeln.com
When a rare skin condition left jELN founder and CEO Crystal Rowe with facial scarring, her passion for natural remedies inspired by her Caribbean upbringing helped her heal. Rowe’s research into the power and efficacy of natural ingredients led to the development of her first product, the facial oil seen here. Rich is packed with 10 essential oils including jojoba, rosehip and turmeric. Rowe saw a gap in the market for a brand for Black people that focused on natural ingredients and self-care, and launched jELN. Featured in British Vogue, the brand ships and sells all over North America and the U.K.
Essentials by Temi
Mini Facial Essentials Duo, from U.S.$40, essentialsbytemi.com
Founder and CEO Temi Shobawale wanted to create organic and vegan skincare with a philanthropical connection. In 2019, she applied the knowledge she gained from years in beauty retail to start her business, Essentials by Temi. Proceeds of the sale of all shea butter-based products go to the women-run Ajike Shea Centre in Ghana. This starter kit is mini, but mighty. It contains a one-month supply of elixir face oil and multi-purpose complexion mist in three skin-saving categories: Intense Hydration, Radiance and Soothing. Essentials ships to North America, with free pick-up in Toronto.
Kinky Curly Yaki
My Coils Clip-Ins, $225, kinkycurlyyaki.com
Black women’s hair, like Black women themselves, is incredibly diverse — but the hair industry was lacking. Founder Vivian Kaye discovered a hole in the marketplace when searching for extensions that better matched her natural texture and did something about it. Designed to blend seamlessly with Black hair, Kinky Curly Yaki products are made with 100% virgin human hair that comes in six curl patterns, textures and straight styles. My Coils Clip-Ins are one of the most popular products available — you can add length and volume in minutes, with no sewing, glue or tracks required.
Tai Body Oil, $59, sadebaron.com
Mother-daughter duo Sade and Rachel Baron joined forces in 2016 to create a vegan beauty brand inspired by the skin’s own natural healing properties. Sade Baron focuses on products packed with super-nutrients designed to replenish and repair skin. Made from antioxidant- and hydration-rich prickly pear, broccoli seed and sea buckthorn oils, Tai Body Oil provides long-lasting moisture and rejuvenation properties for the face, body and hair.
Chocolate Goodness Hydrating Facial Mask, $35, skindrama.ca
Founder Nikola Walker created Skin Drama’s lineup of plant-based skincare infused with antioxidant-rich sweet orange and camu camu for Black women dealing with acne scars or hyperpigmentation. But if your skin tends to be drier in the winter — or even year-round — their Chocolate Goodness mask may be your saving grace. Made from multiple types of cocoa extract, seed oils, coconut oils, shea butter and more, it’s super-hydrating, leaving skin soft and glowing. All of Skin Drama’s products use natural ingredients to soothe, hydrate and protect.
Glaze Hyperpigmentation Scrub, $20, bellurelle.com
Creating sustainable, vegan products that treat skin without harming the environment is Bellurelle’s brand mission. Everything is handmade in small batches from natural ingredients. The Glaze Hyperpigmentation Scrub contains turmeric (beneficial for many skin ailments, but it stains, so take note), lemon oil, raw honey, olive oil and more to exfoliate and improve areas with dark circles, spots and acne scars. It’s ideal for dry and oily skin, and can help prevent acne.
Thyme Blemish Control Gel, $56, relivorganics.com
Naturopathic doctor Olivia Rose was inspired to create her own skincare products by her experiences with eczema, acne and other skin conditions. Certified USDA organic, Reliv Organics uses sustainable, cruelty-free ingredients grown locally to craft skincare packed with natural benefits. The Thyme Blemish Control Gel contains anti-microbial thyme essential oil as well as 2% salicylic acid derived from white willow bark to target acne and promote cell regeneration. It also helps to decrease hyperpigmentation and refine pores.
Curl Define Curl Enhancing Gelly, $13, earthtonesnaturals.com
Founder and creative director Susan Walker used her training as a naturopathic doctor and certified trichologist specializing in scalp and hair health to create hair products that make curls pop. Based in Ajax, ON, Walker was inspired to launch Earthtones to help her young daughter, and everyone with natural curls, love their hair. The brand offers hair consultations and plenty of advice on how to use their products which are available online and in salons. This Gelly is a bestseller thanks to its firm hold and frizz-free formula, leaving curls shiny and moisturized for days without any crunching or flaking.
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