Black History Month—meet the clean beauty founders who are changing the industry

Black History Month—meet the clean beauty founders who are changing the industry

Credo is very excited to celebrate our innovative Black-Founded Brands this Black History Month. We asked 7 leading founders a series of questions that give us insight on how they got their start, what Clean Beauty means to them, and advice for Black entrepreneurs. We hope you enjoy the Q&A and learn more about our founders' stories and some of their daily practices (we want to hop on the skipping wagon with Dr. Christine Martey-Ochola).

Q: What inspired you to start your beauty brand? 

ANGELA UBIAS, Common Heir: Common Heir was inspired by my love of beauty and the desire to build a brand rooted in legacy, both looking back and forward. I also knew that I wanted to reimagine luxury skincare to not only be better for the environment but also formulated with melanin in mind and to celebrate my multicultural background. I’ve set out to prove that a luxury beauty brand can be helmed by women of color. 

DANA JACKSON, Beneath Your Mask: After being diagnosed with lupus and lupus nephritis, I started handcrafting products to repair the damage done to my skin and hair from the disease and countless medications. I started Beneath Your Mask because I wanted to share my journey with those that may be going through the same thing.

KATONYA BREAUX, Unsun: I was inspired to start my brand because I really wanted a mineral-based sunscreen. The chemical-based sunscreens drove me crazy with the irritation and smell. The only problem was that all the mineral sunscreens on the market left a thick white residue and the tinted ones on the market were not tinted in a way that worked for my chocolate skin tone!

JAMILA POWELL, Naturally Drenched: I wanted to create a brand focused on the health of the hair, formulated from professional salon knowledge on what really works on all textures.

Q: What does clean beauty mean to you?

LESLEY THORNTON, Klur: For me, clean means there is a daily commitment and promise to do the right thing for all people, the planet, and the process.

ANGELA UBIAS, Common Heir: After nearly a decade in clean beauty developing products for dozens of brands, I can say that clean is something that is constantly evolving. Clean to us is an incredibly sustainable supply chain, ingredients that meet Credo Clean Standards, vegan and cruelty-free products, and going the extra mile to obtain third-party certifications and testing for any clean claims that are made.

NAA-SAKLE AKUETE, Eu’Genia Shea: Clean means not feeling bad about letting my daughter use my skincare products!

JAMILA POWELL, Naturally Drenched: Clean to me means taking every aspect of your products and brand into consideration and scientifically evaluating whether or not there is any potential harm to people and the environment. Clean also means being consistently educated on every aspect of your formulation, packaging, and supply chain to figure out ways to ultimately become circular and eliminate unnecessary waste.

KATONYA BREAUX, Unsun: Clean to me means good for the person using it, the environment for which it's used, and not having a negative impact on any living thing.

Q: What is your morning routine? 

NAA-SAKLE AKUETE, Eu’Genia Shea: In my dreams: gym, shower, work. In reality: diaper change, bottle, baby nap.

LESLEY THORNTON, Klur:  Most mornings I’m up around 7:00 am and will usually start the day by making my bed. Some mornings I do a full skincare routine others I might keep it simple and just put on Symmetry Fluid Anti-Pollution Serum and sun protection. I’ll have a matcha tea or coffee with mushroom powder and MCT oil. When it’s not raining I like to sit outside for 10-15 mins of morning sun and enjoy my tea while getting some vitamin D.

Dr. CHRISTINE MARTEY-OCHOLA, Nuele: I wake up to a daily spiritual devotional, a warm glass of water for detox purposes. I took up skipping in the morning as my exercise which I love, followed by a nice warm shower to fully wake me up, a look at my to-do list for the day, sit down with my first cup of scrumptious rooibos tea (its gotta have milk in it), and then the day is off to a start with whatever my priority list of work and life's needs are.

ANGELA UBIAS, Common Heir: I am not a morning person which makes a routine crucial to starting my day! My mornings consist of a hot chai latte, vocalizing or writing a few daily gratitudes, and then skincare! If I’m not testing new Common Heir products, I’m cleansing, toning, and using our Vitamin C Serum always finishing with SPF :) 

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to Black entrepreneurs? 

Dr. CHRISTINE MARTEY-OCHOLA, Nuele: Entrepreneurship isn't easy, be creative, remain authentic in your business, plan for the long haul, and identify good partners to augment the work that you are doing.

DANA JACKSON, Beneath Your Mask:  I would tell black entrepreneurs not to be discouraged by what may seem like a lack of resources, funding, or support. Let that fuel your drive to bring your vision to life regardless. It will be just as, if not more, rewarding. There is a consumer and market for your vision, you just need to see it through.

LESLEY THORNTON, Klur: Every space is overcrowded and there isn’t a thing that hasn’t been done, but no one can be you. You can never go wrong when you focus on quality and authenticity. Authenticity is what makes your brand so valuable. Show up as yourself and build a community based on that. It’s okay to be different, think differently. You don’t have to be the next something or somebody to attain success. You are already a successful business if you manage to have your own voice and others listen. 

JAMILA POWELL, Naturally Drenched: Don't compare yourself to other brands. Look at them for inspiration, but stay focused on building your strategy and increasing your community with the resources you have. If you are passionate about what you created and believe in your ethos then be patient, and not afraid to pivot.

NAA-SAKLE AKUETE, Eu’Genia Shea: Make sure you build a network with whom you can be genuine and vulnerable. 

Q: What is your desert island beauty product?

DANA JACKSON, Beneath Your Mask: Beneath Your Mask Nourish Skin & Hair Serum. It works head to toe, I literally can’t be without it. It can be used as a face serum, body oil, hair oil, hair mask, scalp treatment, scar treatment, face mask booster. This list goes on and on!  

KATONYA BREAUX, Unsun: If I were stuck on a desert island, I'd want a face and body lotion with SPF! No tint, no-frills, just a clean SPF that can be applied all over!

LESLEY THORNTON, Klur: Unseasonal Kind Face Oil by Klur because it's filled with antioxidants and vitamin c and I love the thought of having some protection, moisture, and a nice glow on an island! 

We're proud to celebrate our Black Founders and share some of their stories. 


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