Meet The Owners Of The Brown Beauty Co-op
By Parker Diakite
If there’s one thing that The Brown Beauty Co-op founders Kimberly and Amaya Smith have learned since the launch of their store: customers have been waiting for a business like this to show up in the community.
Located in Washington D.C.’s vibrant Dupont Circle, the two friends started what they call “a playground for brown beauty” with celebrating women of color in mind.
Despite the same last name, there’s no relation by blood but through a special bond that grew out of frustration with the lack of diversity represented in the beauty industry.
Kimberly Smith is the founder of Marjani Beauty, an online retail store that sells a selection of skincare and makeup products for women with darker skin tones.
Amaya Smith runs a start-up called the Product Junkie that helps women find hair products and tools for natural hair.
Foundation, lipstick, blushes, scrubs, hair products, and everything else that accentuates #blackgirlmagic can be found on full display at The Brown Beauty Co-op.
In an interview with Travel Noire, the women discussed what they have learned since the launch of their brown girl beauty hub:
Travel Noire: Since your launch on Dec. 8, what have you learned about both the women and men of color you serve in your community?
Brown Beauty Girls: We’ve learned so much in the first few months of starting the business. One of the biggest things is that our consumers have been waiting for us to show up!
We get so many people who come into the store who are grateful that we exist and happy to have a space that caters to people of color. So many of our customers walk in and say “It’s about time!” Also, our typical customer isn’t who you might think it is. Often beauty is portrayed as a young woman’s industry and all the images we see are about youth but our strongest customer base has been older women of color. They range from women who have been all about beauty their whole lives to women who find out about our store and finally decide to start wearing red lipstick in retirement.
TN: Speaking of your customers, what has been the response from the community?
Brown Beauty Girls: The community has been very welcoming. Because we are in a downtown area where so many women work we often get lunchtime visits from groups of women of color who bring all their coworkers from their office. It’s The Brown Beauty Co-op field trip.
We’re also working to partner with local businesses including other black-owned businesses in the area. There’s also a strong contingency of Black female mental health professionals in the area who we have partnered with to host events because we want to be more than a retail space: we want to be a space that addresses the whole woman.
TN: What can people expect from you two next?
Brown Beauty Girls: We are growing in the types of events we offer. We’ll be hosting a lot more classes and educational events around how to take care of natural hair, caring for melanated skin and all kinds of make-up classes.
We want to be the go-to space for women of color in DC to connect with experts in beauty to get all their questions answered. We’ll also be expanding our incubation efforts to help other small brands who want to get into retail stores.
TN: Is there anything else you would like to tell us regarding your company?
Brown Beauty Girls: We created The Brown Beauty Co-op because we believe that women and people of color deserve spaces where we can just be ourselves and that we are mainstream consumers that deserve to be treated like our dollar is valued. We want people of color to know that they have an option to visit a store that sees them as beautiful in all our glory.