Beauty for all
Recently, I caught up with Ezinne Iroanya, founder of SKNMUSE and greatly enjoyed learning more about how her brand is offering an elevated self-care ritual for the modern Black woman through bodycare.
Ezinne shared that she has always wanted to work in the beauty industry. Her first job in college was at the beauty counter at Dillards. From there, she worked for Lancome and eventually worked for and became the brand manager for Dior. After serving for over ten years in the industry, she decided to branch off and start SKNMUSE because she noticed a lack of inclusivity in the industry.
I was curious as to what sparked Ezinne to launch her own beauty brand. She shared that she had encountered an unsettling experience in which her beauty products were discarded by TSA at the airport and that this experience left her upset and inconvenienced. Grappling with the loss of her beloved homemade beauty products, she had an epiphany and realized that if she was also struggling to easily access clean beauty products, certainly other women were too. After conducting a survey amongst Black women (who would become her main demographic) she learned that many respondents felt that there was no inclusivity with how luxury beauty brands served Black women. Many cited a lack of awareness and lack of consideration among their main frustrations with larger and more well known brands.
Representation In The Supply Chain:
Why Fashion Has Failed in Serving Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Groups
Today, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) audiences spend an estimated 80% more money buying beauty products. Although they represent such a large sector of the buying industry, Ezinne notes that many of the consumers she talks with, particularly Black women, complained about not feeling seen and served in the beauty industry. SKNMUSE has responded to these concerns by not only catering to the modern Black women, but also priding themselves on creating experiences that provide a long-lasting, culturally authentic, high-end experience.
Ezinne notes that at the forefront of all her business decisions is the question “how can we view luxury as a way of servitude?” And with this in mind, she doesn’t just view SKNMUSE as just a product, but also as a service. She states that Black women have given so much to the beauty industry and should be able to have all of their beauty needs met under just one label.
I appreciate how well Ezinne identified an unmet need in her target market and is serving it. I always say that business is very easy, it’s about listening to what your clients need and then giving it to them. I attribute the success of Renewal Logistics to the customized fulfillment solutions we’re able to bring to our clients. Our goal is to align with the needs of our clients to drive value and lower their overall costs. To do this, we specialize in creating custom solutions for a brand’s packaging, kitting, and product needs. We know that the packaging their products come in is an extension of their brand, so we work closely with our clients to provide the look and feel that best suits their company.
CREATING ENGAGEMENT & RETURN CUSTOMERS THROUGH BRAND EXPERIENCE
SKNMUSE goes above and beyond to give each customer a brand experience. This includes product based playlists to get you in a zen mood and zines that keep customers informed about what’s happening in their communities.
SKNMUSE practices sustainability by keeping community at the forefront of everything the brand does. As a company, their goal is to source 70% of their product ingredients from small businesses based in America, West Africa and the UAE. In building a brand that is intentional, they prioritize sourcing from within the community, giving back and taking only what is necessary. When it comes to protecting the planet, they are doing their part by offering a refill policy that helps customers save money and reduce waste. In addition, SKNMUSE is thinking about sustainability not just with ingredients and packaging, but also from the community lens as well. They focus on how they can give back to the right people and source ingredients from eco conscious brands. They also prioritize making sure those brands provide equal pay to their workers. Essentially, at SKNMUSE they want to amplify the people who have taken the extra step to ensure they are not harming the planet.
When the pandemic hit, we saw many brands, particularly smaller brands struggle to overcome the large challenges that came with the many obstacles brought on as a result of COVID 19. 99.9% of all businesses in the U.S. qualify as small businesses, collectively employing 47.3% of the nation’s private workforce. At the onset of the pandemic, nearly 43% of those businesses temporarily closed. Ezinne shared despite the many challenges, the pandemic forced her brand to be more creative with the ways she communicated her brand. Launching in November of 2019 just before the pandemic hit, all she has known is how to survive and grow in a pandemic. One major move she made was her decision to forgo chasing department stores for partnerships and instead leaned into the Black community. With this, SKNMUSE focused on understanding how they could better appeal to online sales and reach the many consumers sitting at home wanting something special during the pandemic.
THE FUTURE FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN
I inquired to see what predictions Ezinne had regarding the future of sustainability in the beauty industry. She shared that now that the average consumer is being more conscious about how they spend their money, many brands will naturally fall in line and implement some type of sustainability measures into their businesses. She notes that many brands are already starting to incorporate refill policies similar to that offered by SKNMUSE. In other countries around the world, many communities have always been focused on sustainability and eco-consciousness. In the west however, particularly the United States, sustainability has been more of an individualist approach versus a community approach. However, Ezinne notes that as climate change occurs the conversation is shifting and more brands are beginning to ask “how do we take care of the environment AND the community as we grow?”
Ezinne notes that many Black households have prioritized natural ingredients in their everyday lives for some time. Now that more conversations are being had outside of those communities, she expects more education and conversations about how other people can pioneer in the industry.
If you are wondering what’s next for SKNMUSE, Ezinne shared that they are working on a fragrance line, which she is aiming to launch towards the end of this year. In addition, as restrictions around the pandemic loosen, consumers can anticipate community events and brunches with her brand. To learn more about SKNMUSE and support the brand, visit www.sknmuse.com.
Meet The Founder
Born and raised in Nigeria, Ezinne has always been ambitious at heart. At just sixteen years old, she left her home country and relocated to the United States to attend college. She attributes her work as a luxury beauty brand to her upbringing in West Africa and the influences of her mother and grandmother in her life. Her mother owned a beauty salon and her grandmother was a holistic healer. These women were Ezinne’s first introduction to self-care and they left quite an impressionable mark on her life.
Today, Ezinne is the proud founder of SKNMUSE, a brand that aims to elevate the skincare ritual, while making it more inclusive and accessible. SKNMUSE strives to source 70% of their resources from small businesses.