As an island nation, our homegrown businesses both fuel our economy and fire up our pride. In 2023, small, women-owned, black-owned businesses are thriving, setting the bar for what can be achieved in the face of adversity, and encouraging others to put their own skills and ideas to the test.
With the world of business becoming more accessible for individuals from minority backgrounds, we’re seeing versatility skyrocket. This means that, while the likes of traditional sapos, homemade black soaps and shea butters are here to stay, the market is also expanding into more high-end and luxury brands.
On the 26th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK, we are continuing to celebrate and elevate black-owned businesses and the women behind them, highlighting those that are making an impact in the luxury hair and beauty space. It’s time to get our hustle on, UK style!
Brands to watch
While the premium skincare market may be difficult to break into, that hasn’t put off Besa Musama, whose African-inspired natural skincare brand Kutemwa Skin has already earned itself a cult social media following and pop-ups at the likes of Westfield and Waitrose stores across the country. Speaking to Spell Magazine, Musama said: “I noticed that the skin concerns of women of colour have been overlooked in the beauty industry within the UK. So, it became my goal to build a product range that focuses on providing skincare solutions for women of colour.”
Another brand carving a space for themselves in the industry is Ashe London, makers of luxury vegan nail polish. With a small design team, Ashe London releases limited colour collections (all vegan formulas) throughout the year to keep costs manageable. Not one to rest on her laurels, founder Ashleigh Alli is also a diversity consultant, working to increase inclusion and diversity within the legal profession.
In answer to the frustrating process of finding the right product combination to care for textured hair, founders Rachel Marcelin, Samantha Stewart MIT and Jasmine Kerley created CURLiD. The brand aims to educate consumers about hair health and maintenance, and their easy-to-use, trichologist-approved Hair Analysis Kit is a testament to this goal.
Another heavy hitter in the UK haircare sector is Rosemary Madagwa, inventor of the microwaveable hair cap, the Lava Cap. Think of it as modernised, stylish version of a heat cap. Designed to deep condition hair with the power of heat, the Lava Cap is an effective and convenient 20-minute solution to restore dry or damaged hair.
Not content with a few extra hues added to make-up lines? Seek out black-owned establishments such as Nails & Brows Mayfair, the first luxury concept nail and brow beauty boutique in London. Beyond the glossy interior and royal clientele are highly qualified technicians ready to pamper.
If you want to spend coins on your hair, Healthy Hair Studio is a London-based trichology service run by Enitan, an accredited trichologist specialising in black hair. Her expertise is especially pertinent for those looking to improve hair health and increase length – you only need to see Enitan’s waist-length afro hair for evidence of her mastery!