beauty

BEAUTYBEEZ: How Founder Brittney Ogike Is Changing the Retail Experience for Women of Color

Brittney Ogike

Just over a year old, BEAUTYBEEZ is an LA-based beauty retail store redefining the shopping experience for women of color. Founder Brittney Ogike wanted to create a space that celebrates multicultural beauty in an elevated setting but still carry beauty supply store favorites. The result is over 200 products sold in-store and online which help women with any hair, skin, and makeup needs.

Of course, like any store this past year, BEAUTYBEEZ has also experienced some challenges due to COVID-19. I spoke to Ogike about how she adapted to times, what it means to be an entrepreneur of color in 2020, and which beauty products have flown off the shelves even durign a pandemic.

What made you decide to found BEAUTYBEEZ?
Brittney Ogike: BEAUTYBEEZ is a beauty retailer that prioritizes products for women of color, specifically black women with textured hair. The reason I started this business was that there was a white space when it comes to ethnic beauty. Traditionally when black women are trying to shop for beauty products whether it’s haircare or skincare, we’re forced to go to beauty supply stores. They’re usually owned by Asian-Americans and there have been times when we’ve been discriminated against and not gotten good customer service. We don’t have that many options and this is where we get things like wigs, extensions, and edge control. Big box retailers don’t have these categories for us. I was dissatisfied with my options, so I wanted to bring the essentials of a beauty supply store and merge it with the experience of a prestige retail store.

We are a one-stop shop for skin and haircare, we’re going to open a braiding lounge and will offer facials and wellness services. We haven’t been able to open those yet because of COVID but we’re very excited to in the future. We also have a licensed aesthetician who specialized in black and brown skin. We’ve created this community that champions inclusivity in beauty from hair to skincare to makeup and wigs. We want to feel seen and understood as women of color, and when you come into our space you will see people that look like you ready to help your specific needs.

Beautybeez Retail Space

How would you describe the experience of shopping at Beautybeez?
It’s an elevated experience. When our customers come into our store they’re shocked because there are all of the products they need but in a beautifully designed retail space. Customer service is a huge priority and we have a diverse staff to help meet our customers’ needs. We prioritize high-quality products and you will see brands that are more effective for our hair, and skin, and overall better for us. We also offer those same products online.

2020 has been a unique year to both own a business and a black-owned business. What have been some of the changes and challenges you’ve faced?
We recently had our one-year anniversary, and to say this year has been crazy is a huge understatement! I was not expecting to go through these challenges. Due to the pandemic, we were forced to close our location in North Hollywood and we’ve had a lot of highs and a few lows.

We had to pivot to online sales to keep our customers and e-commerce grew tremendously. Then when the Black Lives Matter movement came about, it came from a dark place within our community, but it has had a positive impact on minority founders. Ethnic beauty has been ignored for so long and when you have these social justice movements around BLM it shines a light onto some of the problems we face as minorities. We’re overlooked and there aren’t as many products that are effective for us. We’re often relegated to one shelf in the store, which is oftentimes locked — a whole other issue. The movement exposed issues we face and brought awareness to our store. It created a tremendous amount of growth — it came from a negative space but there were positive impacts.

What have been some trending products in 2020?
I was shocked to see how quickly our skincare moves. That’s typically something you don’t see at a beauty supply store; we have premium skincare brands and they sell quickly online. Urban Skin Rx and Black Girl Sunscreen are some of our bestselling products. Some other products people have loved; TGIN, a hair brand with products that are great for 4c hair, Hyper Skin, innovative skincare for black and brown skin, AJ Crimson, a luxury makeup for black and brown skin, JACQ’S, a clean skincare brand with a purpose, and Bolden Skincare which is our best-selling skincare brand

I was also really struck that our extension category really blew up, specifically braiding hair. When quarantine hit, we were selling out of braiding hair. I think it speaks to an evolution that’s happening in our society and community. Ten years ago, we would have never shown up in corporate America to a Zoom call with braided hair. There’s a cultural shift that’s happening about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Beautybeez

You’re a multipreneur what does that mean?
Multipreneur just means I’m busy all the time [laughs]. I’m beauty by day, sports by night, as I also have a sports management company. I manage the crazy lives of athletes, specifically NBA players. I went to school for sports management but then over the years I settled down and started a family and slowed down a bit. I continue to manage my brother and handle his business off the court. It’s stressful to manage two companies and careers but I love it.

How do you stay organized?
I wish I had tips! I’m trying to learn how to delegate more, I’m a bit of a control freak. I get asked a lot about work-life balance and I don’t have work-life balance. Some days I’m the best mom, sometimes I’m the best at my job, sometimes I’m the best wife but then I suck at something else. I can’t be perfect all the time and I just roll with it.

What advice do you have for budding black entrepreneurs?
My advice would be to stay persistent and stay resilient. There are so many challenges — don’t let them discourage you. There is space for everyone no matter what industry, skin color or background.

Also, find a mentor, they’re a great resource on your entrepreneurial journey. Lean in on your community and industry, there are a lot of people that feel the way you’re feeling.

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