Hi Genesis, thanks for joining us today. What’s the backstory behind how you came up with the idea for your business?
Well, when I graduated from college with a degree in Finance, I felt like I was taking one step closer to my dream of becoming a businesswoman. I began my career as a technical recruiter and saw a lot of success working for companies like Google, Amazon and (add one more company here).But, during the pandemic, I became unemployed for the first time in six years. Like many others, I had a lot of down time during the COVID crisis but, as the months passed, I found myself thinking about starting my own business and I began researching the ingredients for my own beauty products. That’s where the thought of starting Honey Beauty all began. Having an online store was feasible for me at the time, especially since in-person contact was extremely limited. Selling hair care products online seemed like the next best thing.
My line of Honey Beauty hair care products consists of natural and clean ingredients that will help everyone achieve hair and scalp health. We deliver a high quality, honey-based collection that leaves your hair feeling simply luxurious! Creating Honey Beauty has been extremely exciting for me as I hope to build an inclusive community that not only embraces natural hair but also our cultural heritage. I believe there is a huge disconnect between the beauty industry and Black and Latino consumers when it comes to the care of textured hair. Even though the Black/Latino community spends 3x more on hair care than their white counterparts, there is very little representation among hair care brands and their executive leadership. I also want to ensure that we provide non-toxic ingredients to our customers. This is central to Honey Beauty’s mission to provide clean natural beauty to our community.
Genesis, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I was born in Queens and raised in the Boogie Down Bronx by a young single mother who made her living as a hairstylist. And if you thought I was Dominican – you guessed right! Dominican hasta la tambora! Accompanying my mom to work at a young age is where my passion for beauty originated. Growing up as an Afro- Latina, you quickly notice that beauty is judged by the color of your skin and the texture of your hair. I also noticed that the beauty industry didn’t represent women like me – brown Latinas with coily, afro hair.
Family and friends would comment on my pelo malo (“bad hair”) as a joking matter. However, I would just brush it off because it was what I was accustomed to. I didn’t think much about it until I faced adversity in college and hair discrimination while working in corporate America. It was then that I decided to embark on my natural hair journey and when I truly discovered my identity.
While studying abroad in the Dominican Republic, during my junior year in college, I built a stronger connection to my ancestors and the motherland. Our history empowered me to embrace and celebrate my beauty. I found Dominican women to be fierce and resilient like the famous Mirabal sisters. This gave me the inspiration I needed to stand up for myself and identify with our African diaspora.
I began to identify as an Afro Latina and quickly received backlash with people saying that I wasn’t Black, that I was Dominican. I started to wear my natural hair and people would tell me to relax it and that I was prettier with pelo lacio (straight hair). So, you see, my natural hair journey was not the easiest. I dealt with many ups and downs but I stand strong now with my pajon (big afro), trenzas (braids), or any other way I please to style my beautiful rizos (curls).
As I continue to travel around the world and get exposure to other cultures, I always notice how in many countries the natives rely on the healing powers of naturally sourced ingredients. I decided to apply that concept to the hair care products that Honey Beauty offers.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
I’m finding life to be completely unexpected. You never know what you are going to be dealing with at any given point. With that said, Covid was a scary time and with the rise of the BLM movement, we were all feeling a bit hopeless. Keeping myself busy by at home, researching hair care products and online businesses was my way of coping with life at the moment. Starting Honey Beauty in the midst of tragedy was my way of contributing to our community in an effort to amplify Black and Latino beauty.
I was fully invested in building the proper foundation so I could be a legitimate business. Then, I found out I was expecting a baby. As a first-time mother I was excited, anxious, and happy at that moment. Honey Beauty was in the final stages of launching online and ready to begin distribution. I made the decision to pivot away from the business and dedicate my maternity leave to preparing for my baby and enjoying the pregnancy. After my son’s birth, I decided to extend my leave and spend the first few months of his life bonding and experiencing life together. I truly believe this was the best decision I could’ve made because the time we spent together was priceless. I’ve learned that focusing on your mental health and making sure that your personal life is in order is really important to being a successful entrepreneur.
Do you sell on your site, or do you use a platform like Amazon, Etsy, Cratejoy, etc?
Honey Beauty is available on Shopify. Selling products online is amazing as it doesn’t confine you to any one location and you can market your products from any place in the world. With that said, Shopify makes it extremely easy to work with their platform. They provide perks such as the first month free of charge, 24/7 phone and chat support, and easy how-to guides. They also have a location in NYC where you can attend in-person events that help expand your knowledge base. The biggest learning curve for me was my lack of technical acumen. Navigating an online business can be challenging, of course, but there will always be things to overcome when you’re an entrepreneur. All of the cons are just a matter of learning a new skill. For me, it was email marketing and other strategies that allow you to reach your target customer. But nothing is impossible when you’re on a mission and your heart – and mind – is set on it. So, for everyone out there contemplating starting their own business – reach for the stars! You won’t regret it.