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The beauty industry isn’t the most inclusive place for women of color. Sure, some progress has been made to address the concerns of different skin tones and hair types, but it’s still nearly impossible for women of color to conveniently find what they need — whether it be foundation, makeup, or hair products — with more than just two options at a given place. (See: dark and darker.)
Fed up with mainstream beauty retailers for their lack of diversity, Kimberly Smith, an Ivy League-educated attorney by trade, took matters into her own hands. An avid traveler, Smith wanted to bring her global (and in most cases, only available locally) beauty finds to US shoppers. Just this February, she launched Marjani, a beauty e-comm site specifically for women of color that caters to various skin tones, ethnicities, and hair textures.
The site stocks cosmetics, skincare, haircare, and accessories from a growing mix of brands, with some you probably already know (like Beauty Blender and The Wrap Life) alongside truly under-the-radar names.
“While I want to feature cult favorites, it’s equally important to me to discover and feature unknown or newer brands that are entering the women of color beauty space,” says Smith. And there’s a lot to discover, from handmade skin and beauty line Breedlove to haircare line AfroDeity, created by a Caribbean mother-daughter duo and inspired by the butters and oils of the islands.
Another great example is the cosmetics line from makeup artist AJ Crimson, a favorite among celebrities like Missy Elliot and Regina King. (Personally, I was upset about not knowing this brand before browsing on Marjani). Its products — especially the lipsticks and glosses — are heavily pigmented and available in a range of bold colors, and were created in response to the lack of color options Crimson saw on the shelves.
And then there’s Maréna Beauté, a relatively new brand based in Sweden that’s also very worth checking out. Its founder, Diarry Maréna, moved from her native Senegal to Sweden as a teenager. All of the products in her line — from the foundations and powders to blushes — have been developed to meet the needs of women of color, based on Maréna’s decade of experience as a makeup artist known for her work with darker complexions.
This idea of putting women of color first is a common theme for all the brands stocked in this digital treasure trove, and it’s a really special thing. “The support and affirmation that our mission of ‘bringing color to beautiful’ has received has been amazing,” says Smith. “It shows that we are meeting an unmet need in the beauty landscape.”
But Smith wants Marjani to go beyond just providing easier access to and visibility for these kinds of brands. On March 31st, the site launched its “Buy It and Try It” foundation match program to address one of the biggest beauty shopping struggles for women of color: finding the right shade of foundation.
The program lets you test out a shade before fully committing by including a sample size when you purchase an eligible foundation. If the shade doesn’t work, just return the unopened full-size product within 14 days to receive a full refund. If it does work, well, that’s even better. “We want to be the go-to destination for women of color, offering an easy approach to finding ‘the one,’” says Smith.
Currently, there are around 20 brands featured on the site, but rest assured that this game-changing retailer is really just warming up. If you like what you see so far, you’ll be happy to know that Smith plans to update the site bi-weekly with a slew of new products for you to discover and fall in love with.