By Tiarsha Harrison
Andrea Jana Thompson, owner and founder of Brown Skin Lovin’, LLC, believes that skincare for brown skin should have quality ingredients, offer a variety of benefits and uses, and serve multiple purposes. “Our skin is our largest organ; our emotional health impacts our overall quality of life and yet, both are often poorly attended to and nurtured,” she states. Brown Skin Lovin’ was founded in 2018 and continues to uplift the body, mind, and spirit with natural infused essential oils. Andrea purchased BPA free jars for all the natural oils and purchased the shea butter from a fair-trade organization in Ghana, Africa called Global Mamas, which in turn offers fair wages to working mothers in Ghana. I caught up with Thompson to find out the inspiration behind her small black owned business and why these products are important for African American women.
Tiarsha Harrison: What inspired you to make Brown Skin Lovin’?
Andrea Jana Thompson: My best friend actually inspired me to create the brand. I was making the product and giving it out to friends and family as gifts in the beginning. Then one day, my best friend of over 20 years – who happens to be a sickle cell warrior – was in the hospital during a sickle cell crisis. I wanted to bring her something special to ease her mind and nourish her skin since she was in so much pain, so I brought her a jar of my Rest Assured blend. After I left the hospital, she told me that all of her nurses kept asking what smelled so good on her and where they could purchase it. From that point she told me I needed to really make a move and start a business; and that is exactly what I did a few months later.
TH: Why is it so important to be self- aware of our emotional and physical health?
AJT: The world we live in brings unavoidable stress and obstacles that can directly impact our physical and emotional health. Oftentimes, black and brown individuals don’t find the time to pause and focus on their overall wellness because we often feel like taking the time to reflect and heal is a waste of time, and it often distracts us from our day to day hustle and grind. We often develop the mindset where we feel we just have to keep going; we do not have time for self-care. This was me, and it brought me to a really dark place. It was only God himself who had to shake things up a bit in my life for me to become self-aware of the importance of emotional and physical health. During this dark season I became introduced to holistic wellness, apothecary resources, and the power of plants and herbs, and I fell in love. It took a lot for me to learn the hard way, so I aim to help others become more aware by offering products that cater to their unique healing needs so they can begin or enhance their wellness journey by first examining the products they put on and inside their bodies.
TH: What ingredients did you choose to make the products natural with infused essential oils?
AJT: I am a woman who prefers natural over processed, so I wanted only the best for my Glow Squad. Before I even began making body butters, body scrubs, and beard butters, I did research with various books that explained the unique healing properties of different essential oils and how to blend them for different purposes. I even took a class that taught me how plants could be used for emotional and physical wellness. So, I actually started out with creating essential oil blends to add to my personal diffuser, body and hair products, and candles to help me with my personal healing needs. Once I saw how well they were working for me, I then added those same essential oil blends to my products. I made the decision that I would never sell anything to my Glow Squad that I had not already tried long-term myself for my own healing. So essentially, all of my products are a combination of blends that I personally use for my own healing.
TH: In your opinion, how important is mental health in today’s society and why is it important to stay positive?
AJT: When I think of mental health, I think of it as the foundational structure of a house being built. Sure, you can still build a gorgeous home on the unstable structure, and things could look great on the exterior of the home but eventually, the poor foundational structure will cause the home to deteriorate. We could think we are fine, living life and going through the motions, but sudden changes like trauma, loss, or health concerns can easily take us over the edge if our mental wellness is not being nurtured. When I look at society today, with all the historical injustice, inequality and trauma, many of us are just one incident away from snapping. It is so important in my opinion to remain positive by practicing self-care. Self-care will look different for everyone, but it is important to have a routine and schedule time for self-care because mental health can impact every area of your life.
TH: How has social media influenced your brand, Brown Skin Lovin’?
AJT: Social media has influenced my brand tremendously. It is the main method of promotion and marketing for me. Through social media, my brand has expanded from Florida all the way to California in just one year! My Glow Squad stretches across 13 states and when I have the chance to engage with them, they often say they found me through Instagram and/or Facebook. Social media has also served as a great source for research when developing my brand and seeing how my brand could stand out amongst some of the other amazing brands out there. Social media showed me that there is no competition; we can ALL have a seat at the table because nobody can do what we do how we do it when our brand is driven by pure passion.
TH: What events do you have coming up to showcase your brand?
AJT: The Brown Skin Lovin’ brand has evolved since its inception in 2018. Our mission has not wavered; we have just found new ways to expand the mission to support other black owned businesses. In 2019 we created the South Florida Melanated Pop Up Shop, a quarterly event showcasing black owned businesses in South Florida. During this event, vendors would have the opportunity to sell products and goods to attendees and each business owner was allocated some time to give a speech explaining their business, their mission, and how attendees could purchase from them in the future. This event was also hosted at a black owned venue to bring more traffic and business to local black-owned establishments. Due to COVID 19, this event has evolved into a virtual event with the same goals and intentions. The next virtual South Florida Melanated Pop Up Shop will take place on July 25, 2020 from 1-3pm on Instagram Live on the @southfl_melanatepopupshop and @bownskinlovin pages.
TH: What do you hope to accomplish in the near future? What are your upcoming goals?
AJT: Since creating the South Florida Melanated Pop Up Shop, I have been heavily focusing on creating a community and directory of Black Owned businesses in South Florida. I want people to have a platform where they can find black owned businesses that offer products and services from A to Z. I also plan to continue to support the fair-trade program Global Mamas in Ghana, Africa, and find new ways to support the working mothers who create the amazing shea butter for my products. I would also like to facilitate courses and seminars for those interested in starting a business so they could learn the process from start to finish. Lastly, I want to create and develop new products to continue to serve my amazing Glow Squad.
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