How This Lawyer Created an Online Beauty Destination for All Women of Color
Remember the name Marjani Beauty because it just might be the black and brown girl’s answer to Sephora.com. This e-commerce beauty destination, dedicated to the beauty and skincare needs of women of color, was created over a span of six months by Kimberly Smith, a Washington D.C.-based attorney who was tired of seeing big-name makeup brands treat black and brown skin as an afterthought.
“This came out of frustration. I was doing my normal beauty run looking for products and couldn’t find exactly what I needed, I couldn’t find products for my skin tone,” she told Black Enterprise in a phone interview. “I thought it would be cool if women of color had a go-to beauty site where they can find all their products.”
Marjani, which means “coral” in Swahili, aims to be that platform. Launched in February, the digital cosmetics and skin care retailer carries a selection of quality products for women of color made by people of color. The brands are curated from all parts of the world, from Morocco to the Caribbean, the U.S., and even Sweden.
Smith’s avid love of beauty and travel also compelled her to create the site. Whether traversing through countries in Africa, Asia, or South America, she noticed that all women of color face the same challenges.
“Colorism and how fair and dark you are comes into play anywhere. When you’re trying to find a foundation for instance, the darker you are the more difficult it is to find the right shade,” she said. “This is the No. 1 issue when it comes to makeup.”
Though she noted that some brands are extending the brown shades they offer, she stressed that a space like Marjani is still needed; where all of the brands are made by people that look like and understand the unique challenges of their potential customers.
“How cool is it to patronize a brand that from the jump, had you in mind as part of what they were formulating when they were creating that product?” Smith said, noting that when women of color visit Marjani, they can feel confident that every product was created with their specific beauty needs front and center.
To determine which brands will make it to the site, Smith and her team sample products to make sure it reflects a particular brand’s promise.
“The fun part is that I am a consumer, what I would want to see and what I’m interested in, a lot of women like me would want these things too,” she said. “We want people to have that boutique experience. When you go to the site, we want to give a taste of luxury made for you.”
Smith wants Marjani Beauty Co. to be known as a leading global beauty platform, accessible to all black and brown consumers regardless of age, hair texture, skin tone, nationality and geographic location. She also envisions it as a global ecosystem that empowers women and encourages them to realize it’s beyond makeup and more about how they feel about themselves.
This is her first run in retail but she’s fortunate to have the help of loved ones on her journey. Her mother runs the operations part of the business.
“Growing up, she was a mentor; she operated her own small business,” Smith said.
The site has already received a lot of praise via personal emails as well as social media, where Marjani has a following of almost 5,000 on Instagram.
“This shows you that it’s beyond superficial. There are many women who are wanting something more,â€ she said. “We aim not just to be a retailer, but a community.”
Some of Marjani’s black-owned beauty brands
Marjani currently offers 20 brands from around the world. These products reflect Smith’s natural love of collecting various beauty finds when she travels across the globe, from ayurvedic oils straight out of India to cocoa butter from Costa Rica. Her aim is to introduce American women to brands they don’t usually have access to.
AfroDeity’s Caribbean Hair Mask (Image: Marjani Beauty Co.)
Since this mother-daughter owned brand hit the site, it’s been a hot seller and is one of Smith’s favorites. The U.K-based Caribbean hair and skin care line is known for theirÂ luxuryÂ JolietteÂ collection. TheÂ ocean-inspired Joliette Caribbean Coconut Hair Treatment Mask is made with sea kelp and prickly pear seed oil. The Joliette Caribbean Radiance Facial Wash offers a two-in-one blend of a cream cleanser and a foaming face wash. It’s perfect for uneven skin and made with natural fruit extracts like coconut.
Urban Skin Rx
Urban Skin Rx’s Purifying Pumpkin Pore Mask (Image: Marjani Beauty Co.)
This skincare brand was designed for women of color and their specific skin care issues, particularly the issues that are faced by women who have more melanin. TheÂ Even Tone Cleansing Bar offers a blend of kojic and azelaic acids to help fight inflammation and promote even skin pigmentation. It can be used as a mask or daily exfoliator and the brand’s promise is that with regular use, skinÂ tone appears more even.Â TheÂ Purifying Pumpkin Pore Mask combines minerals, enzymes, and vitamins to reduce pore size while cleansing and hydrating.
AJ CrimsonAJ Crimson’s Chasing Saturday matte lipstick (Image: Marjani Beauty Co.)
One of the most trusted names in the beauty industry, Crimson is usually the first choice for celebrities like Missy Elliot, Regina King, and Angela Bassett. Marjani carries a range of foundations, highlighters, and a finishing powder from this Los Angeles brand. Don’t forget to add his #NoFilter and Chasing Saturday lipstick colors to the cart.
Marana Beauty’s Blush Tarou (Image: Marjani Beauty Co.)
This Swedish brand formulates products exclusively for darker-complexioned consumers. The highly-pigmented blushes are sure to be a show-stopper whether at the office or on a night out. The Blush Tarou comes in six hues, from high-powered Cambi Berry to the warm, Sweet Brown. The brand was founded by makeup artist, Diarry Marana who is originally from Senegal.
True Moringa’s Black Soap Moringa (Image: Marjani Beauty Co.)
Named after the Moringa tree in Ghana, which contains numerous health benefits, this brand is 100% vegan. Moringa is rich in zeatin, known for stimulating cell division, growth, and delaying aging of cells. The Magic Black Soap is True Moringa’s modern take on the traditional African black soap. It is handcrafted in small batches using raw shea, moringa, neem, and essential oils. Their Ultra-Light Whipped Body Butter is made of a blend of wild-crafted shea and moringa.