Brown Girl Jane and SheaMoisture are teaming up for the second year to offer funding and mentorship to Black women in the wellness and beauty space. A total of $150,000 will be awarded, with two grand prize winners individually receiving $25,000 and another 10 given $10,000 each.
“We’ve always been super intentional about community and about community being such an integral part of our brand,” said Brown Girl Jane chief executive officer Malaika Jones, who founded the plant-based, CBD-focused wellness and beauty brand alongside her sister Nia Jones and Tai Beauchamp. Launched in January 2020, the company is expected to do $2 million in sales this year.
“It’s bigger than a collection,” Malaika Jones continued. “And so, with a lot of the social injustice of last year being on the center stage, we wanted to really play a role.”
The initiative began as an online movement, #BrownGirlSwap.
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“We asked every consumer to just swap out five of their everyday products in the beauty and wellness space for those owned by Black founders,” explained Jones.
It went viral, sparking conversations and leading to talks with Cara Sabin, CEO of SheaMoisture — acquired by consumer giant Unilever — and Esi Eggleston Bracey, Unilever’s executive vice president and chief operating officer of North America in beauty and personal care.
The aim was to “amplify the movement and grow it into something that was sustainable and truly impactful,” Jones said.
Last year, 16 Black women founders received funds to help support their businesses; the top prize was $20,000, which went to 10 recipients, while $5,000 was given to six other winners.
“Black women are starting businesses at the fastest rate of any other demographic, yet we’re receiving the least amount of funding,” said Nia Jones. “This puts real money in the hands of founders who are really creative and innovative in the space and just needed the funding to help propel them — and mentorship.”
Along with the funding, winners got access to virtual appointments with experts from the teams at both Brown Girl Jane and SheaMoisture who shared industry advice and knowledge.
And no one left empty handed, said Simone Jordan, global head of purpose and brand partnerships at Unilever. All applicants were able to join an online workshop, which featured appearances by Sabin and Bracey.
Success stories include brands like London Grant, now found at Nordstrom; Range Beauty, sold at Target, and Base Butter at Macy’s.
“When we started looking at programs and partnerships that were effective in 2020 that we had to bring back in 2021, this was at the top of our list,” Jordan said. “You can’t do it one year. That’s not enough change. It needs to be sustainable change. It has to be something that’s long-term. So if you’re making commitments to partners just when it’s on trend, just when you hear your consumers yelling the loudest, then it’s not really part of your purpose.”
The final recipients this year will be determined by the community, followers of the movement who are invited to vote online (information can be found at Browngirljane.com). The winners will be announced between Oct. 14 and 16 during Brown Girl Jane’s Black Beauty and Wellness Summit. Held virtually in 2020 (headlined by Halle Berry and Jill Scott), the event is expected to be a hybrid this year, offering an in-person day.
“We know that Black women consume more beauty and wellness products than any other demographic in terms of our spending,” said Beauchamp, discussing the larger mission of the grant and summit. “So, this is also just another way of leveling the playing field in terms of supporting Black women founders in the beauty and wellness space so that we’re not just a part of the consumption cycle, but a part of the larger ecosystem of creating businesses that actually fuel and funnel into how we consume and how we build community as well.”