Black women are often overlooked in mainstream media for their achievements. The mainstream women’s movement has historically lacked real inclusion in celebrating black women.
Rather than waiting for mainstream media to play catch-up, we want to use our platform to celebrate the diversity and excellence of black women.
So, keeping in line with our desire to “discover stories from across the political spectrum, local stories, stories that hold power to account, that uncover wrongdoing, that empower the forgotten and the unheard”, The Common Sense Network presents you with 5 phenomenal black women who are excelling in their various industries.
Let me introduce you to Abi Shokeye. She is the founder of Rich Skxn, They are the only online retailer for melanin-rich skin in the UK.
Their goal is “to become the world’s leading skincare retailer for black and brown skin and change the game in the beauty retail space.”
They want to inspire those with melanin-rich skin to remove and change stigmas about skincare for black and brown skin, to represent black and brown skin in the commercial space, and give “black-owned brands a platform to showcase their amazing skincare products.”
Tell me about yourself and your business.
Rich Skxn is a personalised retail store that will eventually transition into an app to help people find products suited to their skin. When it comes to brown and black skin, a few skin concerns repeatedly show up, like acne, hyperpigmentation, ingrown hair, or melasma. All these concerns show up on both white and black skin, but how it shows up on our skin and the available treatment we need is a bit different. So, education around those concerns is important so people know what products they could use on their skin. Also, they can see other people like themselves in images or videos, so they can see a representation of what it would look like if they used certain products.
When I started my skincare journey, I didn’t have many of these resources available with a lot of tips and advice around looking after brown and black skin or knowing what products work. I spent a lot of money looking for products that work from retail stores like Boots, Super drug and Amazon. However, after doing a lot of research myself, I realised what worked, and I thought it would be great to share it with a community of struggling people like myself who want healthier skin.
That was how I started Rich Skxn. However, I don’t want Rich Skxn only to be a place where you find products but also to find treatments, so if you are looking for an esthetician or a dermatologist that could help you with your skin concerns. So, it would be a full rounded service catered to your skin.
Would you say its more difficult for black women to find skincare products among popular skincare brands?
It may be difficult if you don’t know what you are doing with skincare. If you are someone that has done a lot of research already, you may know how some ingredients work; then you can go into your usual retail store and easily pick out the products you need. However, everyone has a different skincare journey; this is something I’ve realised after catering to thousands of people on Rich Skxn that some people do need help. I want to make it easier for them so they know that this brand is curated for them; that is also why I curate products from other black-owned brands that I know have worked either on my skin or other people’s skin.
What do you think has been the impact on the people that use your services on their skin?
It has been great! I recently surveyed what our customers think about Rich Skxn. The three common things people liked were that Rich Skxn is female-led and black-owned, so they love supporting a black-owned business and that I prioritise their skin and are not an afterthought. You would often find that many brands test their products on white people and then include an image of a black person in the advertisement to pull in black spenders. However, with Rich Skxn, we are inclusive of brown and black skins in our product testing. They are not an afterthought; instead, they are included in every step of the process, from creating the product to its launch. The final thing people like about Rich Skxn is the educational side; people really enjoy the fact that Rich Skxn is personalised to them and their skin concerns and that it comes from someone who understands their skin concerns.
These are the three main things that people enjoy about Rich Skxn. In addition to that is the fact that they can find other black-owned products on the website. The majority of the products on the site are black-owned. I try to add a lot of them because I don’t think most retailers allow black businesses the opportunity to sell their products. One reason for that is that small businesses cannot produce as many products as other larger brands. So, I’m trying to allow my customers to see that brown and black people create other great brands.
Why do you think we need more female black entrepreneurs?
When it comes to business, you will have your ups and downs. However, when you see someone like you, either from London or the UK, anything you can relate to can inspire you. “if they can do it, so can you.” It is essential because they can be one of your biggest motivators, especially if they are black, and they can be funded for their business. It breaks down the stereotype of black people being unable to get financed and inspires you to start your business too. I think it’s also good because you can reach out to these people to get some tips. I think having more female entrepreneurs is a good idea because it allows for more diverse business ideas rather than being stereotypically men. Also, women are very resilient when it comes to business. There are a lot of successful women out here that are doing well.
Are there any women that inspire you?
Rihanna, when I saw her campaign for Fenty beauty, I was inspired to want to do the same for Rich Skxn. She’s inspired me to think bigger than myself and be inclusive. So, she encouraged me to keep pushing, and the fact that she comes out with different products inspires me to be more adaptable.
I am also inspired by many women in the UK, like Patrica Bright, Irene Agbontaen, and Mariam Jimoh. There are so many people out there doing amazing things that I am inspired by, and I am really proud of our people right now!
What challenges have you encountered since you started Rich Skxn, and what advice can you give to other women who want to start a business?
I don’t think I found many things challenging. However, when I started to source funding for Rich Skxn I often found myself pigeonholed as my business was catering to black people. It had me questioning whether I was wrong to cater to one group of people instead of being inclusive to other races. It was a bit of a battle because people couldn’t see how big this could be as brown and black people do have a lot of spending power – we care about how we look. So, that was the only thing I struggled with because of the funding side.
What advice can you give to other women who want to start a business?
- Look for people that understand your business, don’t just look for funding anywhere. You need to get funding from people who believe in what you believe in and can see your vision. Otherwise, you may encounter people with different opinions and forget why you are starting your business.
- There is nothing wrong with being adaptable; you must be adaptable to your environment but always remember why you are starting your business.
- Taking time out for yourself is essential as running a business requires you to wear many hats, so don’t take your mental health lightly.
- Get a mentor who has been where you are going that can support and advise you.
- Joining the Business Accelerators this year was helpful for me. They can put you in contact with experts to help you develop your idea, and even more, they can help you get funding. So, tap into a business network or business accelerator program.
- Finally, get the right people around you in your team.
What can we be looking forward to from Rich Skxn?
In December, Rich Skxn will be launching its very own product! I didn’t realise creating a product would take so long. However, we are taking the product through many tests to ensure that our customers would be satisfied with it.
To find out more about Rich Skxn, please click the links below!