Kimberly Smith, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney and beauty enthusiast, loved traveling the world collecting beauty products.
“When I’m on a trip, I love picking up different finds from across the globe,” Smith said. “Whether it’s argan oil from Morocco, Ayurvedic oils from India or cocoa butter from Costa Rica, I’m a natural curator of beauty products.”
When she found she couldn’t purchase many of those lines domestically, she saw a chance to turn her passion into a business proposition. Moreover, she identified a gap in the market for a digital boutique for products for women of color and created a company called Marjani Beauty Company. Under that logo, she recently launched an e-commerce boutique — a site for women of color to select from a curated selection of beauty products from across the globe. In the past three months, she said traffic is swelling, a testament to the need in the market.
In April, she’ll bring her first pop-up shop event to life in Washington, D.C.
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Smith has a rigorous process to green-light a line. “We vet the brand to ensure it aligns with our mission, then we try the products,” she explained. The customer base spans across various demographics as far as age, income and geography. She added she doesn’t zero in on just “what’s hot,” but rather products that meet specific needs of women of color, be it shades or product formulation.
In skin care, Christal Cosmetics Brightening Refining Scrub, a U.K.-based brand made for melanin-rich skin, has been a hit. “We are the first U.S. retailer of this product,” she added. True Moringa Rejuvenating Body Polish has been sought out by “green beauty lovers,” she said. Its formula includes a blend of coffee beans, sugar and organic moringa oil.
AJ Crimson Beauty Subculture matte lipstick has been a standout in cosmetics. In hair care, the 100 percent natural deep hair conditioner Breedlove Herbal Hair Food has become a cult favorite. Launched just within the past few weeks, Afrodeity’s Joliette line of Caribbean-inspired skin and hair products is gaining traction.
Next on tap will be the launch of a “Buy It and Try It” Foundation Match Program. “The biggest struggle for women of color as it relates to beauty is finding the correct shade of foundation. We want to be the go-to destination for women of color, offering an easy approach to finding ‘the one.’”
On March 31, the company will reveal a program allowing a customer to buy from the Foundation Match Program and get a free sample. By doing so, they can try before opening the full size, which can be returned within 14 days of purchase for a full refund.
Beyond commerce, Smith hopes the site will be a resource for women of color. “Marjani Beauty Company strives to be more than just an e-tailer, but also a community and platform where the collective diversity of women of color is highlighted, discussed, embraced and, most importantly, celebrated,” Smith said.