The Visionary: Marjani Beauty's Kimberly J. Smith
Can you fill us in on what first led you to venture into the world of beauty?
Marjani Beauty was borne from the desire to create a space and platform where the collective diversity of women of color is celebrated. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to women of color and their hair, skin and cosmetic needs.
We are constantly breaking the mirrored vanity when it comes to the “ideal standards” of beauty. All the while, majority brands fail to keep up or even attempt to fulfill our diverse needs. So, as a self-proclaimed beauty junkie, I thought it was time to create a retail experience for women of color that could change the way we approach beauty, shop for beauty and view ourselves within the beauty industry!
How does your experience an Ivy League-trained attorney impact or influence the way that you run your business?
I believe my legal background is really an asset when it comes to the business & operations behind the beauty. There is a formal and analytical way I approach my business. Although I practiced in the healthcare sector, I am very comfortable with research.
So, entering a new industry, I find it so interesting the different rules, regulations and practices I must get acquainted with. But I love that I get to tap into my creative side with a business that is such a stark departure from my legal background.
We love what your company is all about! What was it like to make this dream a reality?
Truly, everything happened (and is happening) too fast. The time from creation to launch was five months. Once I decided I was going to do this, I dove right in. I first researched what currently existed in beauty space for WOC that matched what I wanted to do/create.
When I found that it didn’t exist, I then started researching indie brands for women of color and created a target list of brands I wanted to partner with. Simultaneously I started thinking of a name, created the legal structure and an overall mission statement/vision to guide me along the way.
Tell us about your all-time top three favorite, can't-bear-to-even-think-about-life-without-'em beauty buys.
Danessa Myricks' Vision Cream Cover is #1, of course. Simply because that can be the most frustrating beauty item for a women of color to purchase.
Through my starting this business I was able to find the best foundations for my skin tone. These are products not found at big box retailers.
Rebel Eye Liquid Eyeliner (from Reina Rebelde) because I’m absolutely obsessed with eyeliner! Haha. Whether it’s a pencil or a paint pot. But I was always afraid of liquid eyeliner because it can go south real quick.
When I tried the Rebel Eye liner though, I was hooked. The applicator is really sturdy so when you’re trying to do a perfectly straight line or winged out, you don’t end up with liquid all over the lid. It glides on like a pencil but gives you the drama you’d expect from a liquid.
Next up is the Clear Skin Cleansing Bar by Urban Skin Rx™; I’d been trying to come up with the best skincare regime for my skin for the longest. Trying everything! When finally I was sent products from this brand. The clear skin cleansing bar has been the best product to date for my skin.
I have oily, acne-prone skin and some issues with blemishes. Since I started using this product there’s been a noticeable difference in the overall look and feel of my skin. So it was a no-brainer that I had to carry these products on the site.
You are something of a travel aficionado. Where is your favorite spot in the world and why?
My favorite city is Cape Town. It’s so much I can say about this city, but the highlights for me are a few of my favorite things: the ocean, great wine and fabulous food.
Anything else you'd like to add?
My goal is to go beyond the retail experience and create a community. Part of that strategy is reaching and meeting the consumer in real-time.
We will host events, have pop up shops and do brand collaborations. We collaborated with AJCRIMSON Beauty for Beautycon NYC this past April and are so excited to do it again for Beautycon LA in August!
The “Perfect Match” pop-up tour is currently under way. It is a foundation-matching event Marjani is hosting in a number of cities across the US. We’ve done DC and we’re preparing for Miami on July 30th and Atlanta on August 20th. It’s a fun beauty pop-event where women can mingle, shop and learn how to pick the right foundation.
Also, we launched our Buy It and Try It™ Foundation Match Program in April on the website. This allows customers to receive a free foundation sample so that they can try it before committing to the wrong shade. This also gives our customers access to brands not accessible in local markets or big box retailers. We currently have 5 foundation brands and over 50 shades. All are POC brands that were created specifically for WOC.
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