In 2014, Brittany Brown faced a series of growing pains while trying to grow her own cosmetic line. So she turned one of her biggest pain points into The Project Beauty Expo (PBE), a platform celebrating the multicultural beauty and indie brands that support women of color. “When I created my line of skincare products, months went by and sustaining my business was a challenge,” said Brown. “I tried everything but nothing would hold up. There just aren’t enough platforms and information out there on how to thrive and be discovered as beauty brands. That’s when I realized I could create more of an impact for women of color by creating Project Beauty Expo.”
During an interview with Brown, she detailed her journey below.
In 2016, I had four brands that participated in my event, and now two years later we have 45-plus brands in attendance. I never thought this small event I started in D.C. would grow to this level and impact so many brands. I’m proud of the brands that have exhibited and the growth and expansion that they are experiencing. I’m just happy to know PBE played a role in so many businesses like Forever Wild Organics. The founder, Chelsea Cannon, launched her product line of hair teas last year through an Etsy shop. She started out small with just a few SKUs. During her time exhibiting at PBE, she was able to make a connection with Shani Syphrett, writer for Forbes, and receive her first earned press mention! This resulted in a tremendous amount of success and afforded her the opportunity to launch her own website and add more innovative hair and wellness products to her brand.
I want these brands to reach a level that I wasn’t able to reach and I am happy to be a part of their journey.
Your expo is targeted toward beauty brands. How do they learn about your exhibit and what’s the process for exhibiting?
Social Media and word of mouth are great tools for us. Now, more than ever, people are more visual and crave beautiful, insightful content through Social Media. We do a good job of tapping into the industry and finding brands that may not have been discovered by the masses. Once we promote their brand typically bloggers, influencers, and consumers follow!
Our exhibiting process is simple. Sometimes we seek brands out or brands can apply directly online. However, we limit brand participation by categories and provide a curated experience for our attendees.
As a platform that celebrates multicultural beauty and indie brands that support women of color, what do you believe is the biggest obstacle for women who are trying to build or scale a sustainable business in beauty?
With platforms like PBE and others, there is proof that there are many brands created by women of color. However, sometimes in business money is the name of the game. Financing is one of the biggest challenges you will face, especially as a woman of color. Our businesses are underfunded and we typically have to have proof of concept before stepping foot into an investment meeting.
Now that this is a becoming more of a topic of discussion we hope to collaborate with large institutions to provide more opportunities for these brands to thrive. I want our brands to have as much access to opportunities as our counterparts.
Since launching PBE, what have you been most surprised to learn about the business?
Failure doesn’t exist. In school, you either pass or fail and we’ve been taught to think that is equivalent to being right or wrong. When I started my first business, I was so scared I wouldn’t measure up that I would give up or tell myself I couldn’t do it.
What I learned is that the key for me to grow as a person is to push myself out of my comfort zone and the norm. In order for me to set these really high goals outside of my comfort zone, I needed to be OK with the fact that it may not work in my favor and that’s OK.