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Start Right Here Podcast

Dec 3, 2020

If you asked Kimberly Smith, founder of Marjani and co-founder of the Brown Girl Beauty Co-op in Washington D.C., about pursuing a career in beauty, she might have once told you that wasn't in the cards. However, a local Sephora trip, where she found not one contour product suitable for her medium brown skin tone, changed her perspective. 

Before that trip, Kimberly was firmly ensconced in her career as a lawyer, focused on healthcare compliance. But that visit set her out on a new path, where she developed not just one but two businesses. She points out that she considers herself risk-averse but still moved forward in this new area because she was determined to give Black and Brown women makeup choices. 

She started her e-commerce business, Marjani, with 12 brands (including A.J. Crimson and Hue Noir) and has expanded to over 40 brands, including skincare and body products. But Kimberly still believed that a physical location was essential. She discussed her dreams with her best friend, Amaya, the founder of Product Junkie, a natural hair care company. In 2018,  they embarked on a new entrepreneurial adventure, The Brown Beauty Co-op, that allowed them to run their individual businesses in a physical space while also incubating new brands started by other Black and Brown beauty entrepreneurs and creating a vibrant community. 

Kimberly chats about the challenges that BIPOC beauty entrepreneurs face with getting ready for retail, what kind of support she is looking for from mainstream sources who claim to want to uplift indie beauty entrepreneurs of color, how Covid-19 has impacted their business, and how small failures play a role in her quest to build her businesses. Plus, so much more!

Visit the Brown Beauty Co-op: 1365 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 100 Washington, DC (