Just Do It: Seeking Out & Supporting BIPOC-Owned Beauty Brands
Bonkosi and our Founder, Amy, have run in similar circles for many years, and their children have grown up in the same neighborhood. Amy interviewed Bonkosi to learn more about BIPOC and Black Women-Owned beauty brands she loves, and to ask some questions about how we can better support these brands. Our favorite part of her answers? It’s simple - just do it.
As we've shared in our previous feature of you on the Printfresh Mag, our Founder, Amy Voloshin, is in love with your shop, Freedom Apothecary. While you sell exclusively women-owned brands, you also focus on carrying as many brands owned by BIPOC business owners as possible. Can you share how you go about finding great brands that fit these requirements?
My first instinct when finding brands and products we love is to tap into our resources — products and brands that people we trust (whose experience and expertise in the industry runs deep and knowledge of non-toxic products is unmatched) either recommend or use; then it’s about relationship-building and cultivating. It’s important for us to establish a solid foundation with each brand founder and I’m a pretty forward person, so I’ll typically follow a brand and its founder for a while, interact with them and then try their products. Since all of our brands are independent, it’s really easy (and important) to go straight to the source.
How do you think women can be more intentional about shopping from BIPOC or women-owned businesses when it comes to their beauty and skincare products?
The answer to this question isn’t black and white — and it’s something I could probably go on about for days because it’s a much deeper reflection of how the system and industry has been set up for too long, BUT simply, just do it. There are so many misconceptions when it comes to BIPOC, and specifically, Black-owned products — the first question typically is “is it for us?” (which is obviously a question BIPOC are faced with at every turn.) For the most part, many products can be used by people with different levels of melanin in their skin. Just because it’s made by or for BIPOC doesn’t mean that it can’t be used by all. Additionally, BIPOC are not monoliths — there is not one singular hair type or skin concern that encompasses all BIPOC. When we can move through that understanding, it’s pretty easy to support BIPOC-owned products because they’re just that — beauty or skincare products.
We see a lot of bigger retailers starting to come out in support of increasing diversity in terms of the brands they carry and the models they feature. What's your take on the difference between tokenization vs. representation in the beauty industry?
Tokenization is tricky, but when it comes to a capitalist society, it’s actually pretty clear — don’t use Black/Brown-owned brands to diversify your reach if you’re benefiting from the labor of Black/Brown people. Obviously, representation happens when more people are exposed to our businesses, so big retailers seem to think that exposure for smaller brands is worth it for Black and Brown businesses -- but exposure doesn’t pay the bills. If the goal is to diversify the brands they carry and diversify their reach, do so without expectation — provide a platform for these brands and let the brands determine what they want out of the partnership. If we want things to be different, we have to do things differently.
Can you share with us some of your favorite women-owned, BIPOC-owned beauty brands to try?
• Black Woman-Owned: Freedom Apothecary, Golde, Movita Organics, Dehiya Beauty, Sienna Naturals, Radiant Health Mag.
• BIPOC-Owned: Sundaze Skincare, Manasi7, Ere Perez, Yuyo Botanics, Henne Organics
• Other Faves: Botnia, H is For Love, Heart of Gold
• BWO brands we don’t carry but LOVE: Klur, Amenda Beauty, Linear Beauty
We're not sure if this is what you'd call yourself, but in our eyes you're a beauty expert - can you share any unique beauty and/or skincare tips that you've discovered along the way?
Ha, no! I would not call MYSELF an expert but I have definitely learned a ton from the experts I’m surrounded by (my business partner, Morrisa, our lead esthetician, Allyson and all of the brand founders I learn from on the daily). Learning from them and by using their products, I’ve discovered how incredibly powerful simplicity in our routines and regimens can be, how the simple act of oil cleansing a bare face can reveal so much about ourselves and peel back layers of unexpected intimacy with yourself and that beauty is a feeling — so when we do things for ourselves that feel good, it radiates.
Read more about Bonkosi in our past interview here on the Printfresh Mag and shop most of her beauty recommendations online at Freedom Apothecary. If you are a Philadelphia local - make a plan to visit her gorgeous shop in Northern Liberties.
Make your beauty routine extra luxurious – shop our collection of Printfresh robes below!