Last spring it was reported that young business owners, Keonna and Kayla Davis were forced to shut down their beauty supply store in California due to Korean manufacturers refusing to do business with the black entrepreneurs. Though African American business ownership is higher than ever, the journey there is ridden with obstacles that still locks most people out of the industry. Mayowa and Ebony, founders and makers of all natural body care line, Flo + Theo, describe the venture into small business ownership as both fulfilling and extremely challenging.
"We have to wear many hats, which can be difficult at times. Not only are we hand making and packaging our products ourselves, we also have to deal with the marketing, inventory, time management, and ensuring that we maintain high quality when it comes to the finished product."
Flo + Theo was born out of Ebony’s struggle with a skin condition that there seemed to be no remedy for. After trying a slew of products that did nothing to alleviate her symptoms, she turned to her own devices and began mixing up her own formula of natural ingredients to moisturize her highly sensitive skin. The name is for the the sisters’ mother, Florence and beloved late uncle Theophilis. They say their family is very supportive, and considering that their hard work has brought them immense success and landed them features in publications like Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, and Refinery29, they have great reason to be.
"A great example of feedback we received was from a lady who happened to write for Teen Vogue. She purchased our Activated Charcoal soap from one of our markets and absolutely loved it. She enjoyed it so much that she wrote an article in Teen Vogue about our Activated Charcoal soap and how it helped with acne on her body." Products like their activated charcoal soap or my personal fave–their lavender body butter is what distinguishes their line from the rest. Ebony and Mayowa products are made in their home of Queens, New York, and the journey to creating their thriving company wasn’t easy, that’s why they encourage newcomers to be completely transparent with their loved ones about their business plan and goals when pitching their business.
"Being a business owner can be extremely difficult as well as rewarding, so if they have a passion for that venture—they should follow their heart and go for it. It is also important to have a business plan—this way your family can see that you have strategies in place to make the venture successful." Everyone who has criticism or concerns for your new business idea isn’t necessarily out to crush your dreams. They may just care about you and want to be assured that your company can stay afloat in an unpredictable market. It’s important to stay ahead of the game and be confident in your business plan, but it doesn’t hurt to show potential investors and loved ones that you’re prepared for your entrepreneurial pursuit.