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Existing as a Black woman is oftentimes costly with no real ownership. From the products used in our hair to what’s applied on our skin, we’ve come to rely on the beauty supply store to meet our needs. BeautyBeez, however, a Black woman-owned beauty supply store, is catering to Black women and all women with a more conscious and all-inclusive space for all beauty needs.
BeautyBeez is still fairly new, having launched its online store in July of 2019 followed by the opening of its brick-and-mortar store in North Hollywood in August 2019. The brand was started by Brittney Ogike, a momager of two with a background in sports management. After viewing her experience and the experiences of other Black women experiencing the beauty supply store, Ogike took matters into her own hands to create a one-stop-shop for beauty.
“Typically as a Black woman with textured hair — and most of the time I wear my hair in its natural state — I have to search high and low for beauty products,” Ogike tells In The Know. “I’m going to my local beauty supply store for my haircare, I’m going to a larger retailer for skincare, and a beauty retailer, like Sephora, for makeup and things like that.”
Way before the George Floyd protests began, Ogike said she realized how her community was consciously spending its dollar — or withholding it completely. Knowing how reliant Black women have historically been on beauty supply stores, Ogike is trying to alleviate the burden on Black women having to make multiple store-stops to shop affordable and quality beauty products from head-to-toe. According to the shop owner, Black people often don’t own space in beauty supply, despite being a multi-billion dollar contributor to the beauty industry annually.
One group owns a huge stake in the hair industry — and it’s not white people
“[The beauty supply store] is owned by a group outside of our community,” the BeautyBeez owner says. “It’s mostly Asians. And sometimes we don’t have the best experience. We’re discriminated against, we’re followed, we’re harassed. And it’s very unfortunate and it’s been an experience that the majority of Black women have had.”
Infiltrating a market owned by people who didn’t look like her, Ogike went through hurdles, not knowing exactly how much of the beauty retailer space wasn’t Black-owned.
“I had to open up accounts and it took a lot of capital because a lot of these companies require higher minimum order quantities for, specifically, minorities in the space,” Ogike explains. “They try to make it harder. There are definitely barriers to entry in trying to establish a store and be successful.”
Korean-Americans own and run 70 percent of the beauty supply space. Ogike says everywhere from the retail spaces to the hair manufacturing to distribution is Korean-American-owned. And since most hair has been imported and exported from Korea since the ’70s, the beauty supply space is almost impenetrable for anyone outside of the community. Almost.
The protests and the pandemic have actually helped BeautyBeez grow
Ogike explains that even in the world’s current state, she’s still making a huge profit as a new business. Quarantine has forced Black women into doing their hair regularly. With hair braiders and salon owners having to close shop and Black women engaging in overall self-care, people are finding ways to DIY. And BeautyBeez has come in clutch for these never-ending self-care days.
“We have grown — I keep saying tenfold — but the success we are having is unbelievable because I didn’t think that we would hit these numbers this soon,” she says.
“Typically, we don’t go to the beauty supply store for our skincare products. However, at BeautyBeeze, we have such a great assortment of high-quality skincare brands that I’m so proud of. They’re actually selling out.”
Service is key at BeautyBeez
BeautyBeez prides itself on customer service, with team members knowledgeable on the various products in skincare, body care and haircare galore. Shoppers can even get help with which products are Black-owned.
“If we tell them it’s not [Black-owned], they’re like ‘cool, can you show me a Black-owned option?’ Those conversations we weren’t really having before the protests. I think it’s great to see. I love the fact that we’re able to elevate these brands and bring more awareness to our community, to our culture and to our injustices,” Ogike says.
In addition to making space for Black-owned beauty brands, BeautyBeez also has services in skincare and wellness. There are even plans to open up a braid bar.
“We’ve created the rear of our store into more of a beauty bar. So we’re offering skincare and wellness services. We have a treatment room. And because of our customer feedback, we are now opening a braid bar.”
With the mom of two building a beauty space unlike many others, she’s just trying to manage it all. And now that people know about BeautyBeez, shoppers are already asking Ogike about franchising the brand.
“There are days where I’m all about my family, but my business is lacking, she explains. “It’s just about finding that common ground and not being too hard on yourself because, yes, we’re superwomen, but we’re not perfect so I just try to not let that pressure get to me and just realize I’m doing all I can.”
If you found this story helpful, checkout Sacha Cosmetics, the Caribbean-founded makeup brand leading the charge in diversity since 1979.
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