How Lauren Napier Is Promoting Black Women-Owned Luxury Brands This Holiday Season
Lauren Napier has brought together 10 black women-owned beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands for a giveaway of more than $1,000 worth of covetable goods, including a Monrowe hat and set of Marie Hunter Beauty lipsticks, to help them gain holiday season traction.
“I [didn’t have] the budget to compete with these really large brands and these large budgets,” says the celebrity makeup artist and entrepreneur, whose eponymous brand of makeup-removing wipes is sold at Harvey Nichols and Net-a-porter. “I thought, ‘How can I get my brand and maybe some other brands out in front of a different audience?“
Napier reached out to brand founders she knew, and Mischo Beauty, Beneath Your Mask, Step Up, Step Out, And Shine, Slat_e, Create The Culture, Cloth & Paper, Monrowe, Marie Hunter Beauty, Krystle Collins Art and Luv Scrub signed up for the so-called #1KSLAY giveaway. At least one product from each brand will be featured in the giveaway, which was launched earlier this month and rolls out in waves. Every week, two participating brands will initiate paid social media advertisements to promote the program.
“When you think of women of color brands, we’re not categorized as luxury brands. We are luxury consumers. People of color spend, [and] not just on the bottom shelf of aisle 16 at CVS.”
To be entered in the giveaway contest, consumers must make a 15-second Instagram Story or a one-minute Instagram video containing the hashtag #1KSLAY. Submissions will be considered until Dec. 8, and the winner will be announced two days later. The brand founders are picking the winner, and the contents of the giveaway stash will be delivered in time for Christmas.
“It’s a fun way to get into the holiday spirit and get into a giving spirit,” says Napier. “We just say, ‘Hey, play your favorite Christmas song and make us a video.'”
Napier didn’t find it difficult to get buy-in from the founders she approached. “Everyone was so on board because we all understand each other’s struggle to get out in front of an audience without a tremendous amount of capital,” she says. “We’re all dealing with the same perils. We are young luxury brands that need to not be ghettoized to the bottom shelf of the retail space. We need to be out in the forefront.”
View this post on Instagram
Another goal of the #1KSLAY giveaway is to spotlight luxury merchandise by black women-owned brands that often goes unrecognized. “When you think of women of color brands, we’re not categorized as luxury brands,” says Napier. “We are luxury consumers. People of color spend, [and] not just on the bottom shelf of aisle 16 at CVS. That spend is in luxury retailers, and, it is my feeling, if they want to access that spend, buyers are going to have to invest in these brands to get new blood into their stores because people of color all want to support people of color, [especially] if they can do it and walk away with a piece of luxury.”
“When Lauren reached out to me about participating, it wasn’t even a question of if I wanted to be involved. I think it’s important to bring awareness to black-owned luxury brands and show that we aren’t just consumers, but we can create at this level, too.”
While there’s been an uptick in luxury advertising campaigns featuring women of color—Napier cites Lupita Nyong’o for Tiffany and Co. and Zoe Kravitz for YSL—she laments that the focus on black female entrepreneurs in the segment still isn’t sufficient. She says, “That’s really unfortunate because we’ve got fabulous products that are just not for people of color, but they’re created by people of color.”
Dana Jackson, founder of Beneath Your Mask, agrees, underscoring the market challenges high-end brands like hers encounter. “Being a black-owned brand in the luxury space can be extremely difficult because there’s this perception that our products must be at a more economical price point,” she says. “When Lauren reached out to me about participating, it wasn’t even a question of if I wanted to be involved. I think it’s important to bring awareness to black-owned luxury brands and show that we aren’t just consumers, but we can create at this level, too.”
Napier launched her line of premium, skincare-enriched makeup remover wipes in 2014. Today, her Cleanse and Flaunt wipes are distributed to 22 countries around the world. Napier’s brand is currently self-funded, but she shares she may look to raise capital in the future. As she enters the fundraising fray, she faces daunting statistics. According New Voices, only .2% of women of color entrepreneurs receive venture capital despite the fact that eight out of 10 new women-owned businesses launched in the last decade were started by women of color.
“I hope one day to be raising money in the same way the Mented team is,” she says, referring to the color cosmetics brand founded by KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson that’s raised $4 million in venture capital funding since its 2017 launch. “The girls from Mented know that, if you don’t have access to capital, it’s really hard for your business to run and to run successfully and also to be competitive. And [women of color] can’t afford to take a break. We’re working. We already know we have to jump higher and speak louder and run faster.”