Businesses in the United States are embracing diversity and transparency more than ever as consumers hold brands accountable. This is especially true in the health and beauty world, where consumers are turning their gaze to nontoxic, sustainable, clean ingredients, and paying closer attention to brands’ mission statements.
At a time where there is ongoing political unrest, a global pandemic, and a pivot to a more digital experience in 2020, how brands interact online with consumers has been completely disrupted. A recent report shows that 24% of Gen Z consumers and younger millennials have sought out or purchased goods and services from Black-owned businesses and 30% have boycotted businesses with a history of cultural appropriation and racist or discriminatory practices. While many brands are taking on a philanthropic stand online, there’s one that has made it a pillar of their brand’s mission.
Brown Girl Jane is a luxury CBD wellness and beauty brand owned by three Black women: Malaika Jones Kebede, Nia Jones, and Tai Beauchamp. I had the pleasure to speak with Nia Jones about the labyrinth of plant-based wellness with CBD products, their #BrownGirlSwap pledge, and their new partnership with SheaMoisture.
Malaika Jones Kebede, co-founder of Brown Girl Jane, found the benefits of CBD to be the solution to self-care and wellness in her busy life and shared what she learned about cannabidiol with her sister, Nia Jones. They soon realized that the cannabis-related industry had very little representation for women of color, mothers, and the overall Black community.
“There wasn’t one that spoke to us,” Jones said. Moreover “everyone’s body is working differently, some things work better with other people.” And given the over-policing history of cannabis, it was important for education and inclusivity to be part of their mission from the start. Brown Girl Jane donates a portion of sales to a nonprofit that is aligned with its mission to better the lives and wellness of women of color.
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One of their most important missions though has been their #BrownGirlSwap pledge; the commitment to give back to Black women businesses to help the advancement of Black-owned brands. Think of all the beauty products you own. Are the brands owned by women of color? Are you supporting Black-owned businesses? The #BrownGirlSwap calls on you to swap five of your common daily products for a brand that is owned and led by a Black woman business, service, or creative. Jones explains, “It’s a very simple way to support other women’s business in a way that is integrated into your life, so you can become an active ally.”
The wellness and beauty industry specifically can feel like a luxury but for women of color where the industry can feel exclusive to white people, it’s a necessity. “Wellness is for everyone,” Jones says. “It should be something that’s free that everyone can access and learn from. Our brand is for brown girls and women of color.”
The merits of diversity in sales speaks for itself. According to Inclusify by Stefanie K. Johnson, diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets than their more homogenous counterparts and that means more sales. This is because 43% of the 75 million millennials identify as Asian, Black, or Hispanic. The buying power of African Americans is $1.2 trillion and will be $1.5 trillion by 2021. Women make 75% of consumer purchasing decisions. Conscious buyers are making the deliberate choice to take their money to businesses that align with their values. For Brown Girl Jane, it’s more than a trend to “Buy Black” because supporting Black women in wellness and entrepreneurship has been at its core since its launch.
Brown Girl Jane is unapologetically centered on women of color, so it’s no surprise that it has resonated with many women and has even caught the eyes of Fortune 500 entity SheaMoisture. Small independent brands are getting the spotlight, and Brown Girl Jane is keeping the movement going with its partnership with SheaMoisture to help amplify, fund, and empower Black female founders. It’s a testament to their authentic passion for creating a product for women of color by women of color.
It’s about “a complete amplification and support of business leaders and entrepreneurs” and “making sure that the capital is in their hands so their business is successful. Businesses can apply to receive grants totaling $250,000. Success for Jones is the “ongoing mentoring process, supporting around operations, legal, and all the components to successfully grow a brand.”
The SheaMoisture and Brown Girl Jane partnership means that the #BrownGirlSwap is being extended to the next level. Along with the initiative, a free virtual summit will be available in September for aspiring Black beauty and wellness enthusiasts. Long term support to communities includes supporting their businesses, their entrepreneurs, and also creatively sharing resources.
When asked about their partnership with Brown Girl Jane, SheaMoisture said, “While the first step of the program consists of encouraging consumers to support and buy from Black-owned beauty businesses, we are giving a voice and channeling support to small but emerging players in the industry. It’s important that we take that a few steps further in order to ultimately direct dollars into diverse companies to support our community and pave a new path forward to help countless female entrepreneurs and generations to come.”
In a time when things feel very heavy and powerless, there’s some hope in knowing that you have control of where you’re money is going, who it’s supporting, and the difference that it can make. And with more beauty and wellness at-home only treatments (facials, haircuts, grooming, yoga) it makes sense to take a deeper look at where your next purchase in this space will go. Shop Brown Girl Jane and know that your hard-earned money is supporting a black-owned business supporting other black woman founders.
This feature is part of our Brands Giving Back Series, where we’ll bring you all the latest news on brands that are giving back to the community, and how you can support by shopping online.