It’s no secret that Boss Women Media is all about supporting Woman-Owned Black businesses throughout the entire year. We recently held our first Building Women for the Future tour where we hosted live pitch competitions in three major cities: Atlanta, D.C. and Dallas. Women from around the country gathered together to support and celebrate so many woman-owned Black businesses as we helped create opportunities for women to learn, lead and leverage tools from brands that are making impact within their communities.
We know that when it comes to creating a business and ensuring it is flourishing as women of color, it’s more critical than ever in today’s world that we support each other. This is because we are faced with particularly unique challenges that impact our ability to build long term wealth and entrepreneurial resources.
In honor of November being National Entrepreneurship Month, we’re highlighting our 5 Building Women for the Future pitch competition winners throughout the entire month. Be sure to support these Woman-Owned Black businesses just in time for the holiday season as we continue to do our part in helping solve the gaps for women around the US to be impacted with resources that work and help businesses grow.
This week’s highlight is the founder of SelfiēSkín Co. Keep reading to find out how a series of personal events inspired her to start her brand.
Janell Muhammad, Founder of SelfiēSkín Co.
Can you start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’m Janell Muhammad, Founder and CEO of SelfiēSkín Co. I’m also a wife, mother to two beautiful children, Skylar (4) and Sincere (1), I’m a daughter and a sister. I’m an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and just an overall positive vibe. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a self-proclaimed skincare enthusiast. Ten years ago, you would’ve found me on the prestige skincare aisle of the nearest department store, searching for effective products to treat my adult acne. Six years ago, and with much clearer skin, I was topping the charts as a consultant for the #1 premium skincare brand in the United States. Welcoming my first child in 2018 pushed me to reach for higher heights — in life, business, and self-care. I decided I wanted more for myself and my family.
As a self-proclaimed product junkie turned skincare enthusiast, in 2021, I turned my attention to birthing two children: my second-born and my own brand — SelfiēSkín Co. Outside of being a skincare enthusiast and brand founder, from 9-5 I work for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services leading public health education campaigns. Most recently I’ve played an integral role in the launch of the 988 Suicide Crisis Lifeline, which is the country’s first 3-digit dialing code for 24/7 crisis care. This initiative is particularly important to me because the same target audience for SelfiēSkín Co., women of color aged 30-46, need mental health support services now more than ever before. Anxiety and depressive disorders are the most common mental health conditions among African American women and many of us try to tackle depression and anxiety on our own. I know that my life purpose is to help others make healthy decisions that will ultimately increase the life expectancy for my people.
When and what motivated you to start your business?
The idea for SelfiēSkín Co. was inspired by a series of personal events: the minute I turned 30 years old, everything changed, and I suddenly suffered from hormonal adult acne. Suffering through this new skin condition resulted in severe hyperpigmentation and quite frankly a lack of skin-confidence. The only products that I found to be effective were ones that contained ingredients that I can hardly pronounce and later learned weren’t necessarily clean, non-toxic, and certainly not healthy or safe. In fact, my quest for products to address my new adult acne and resulting hyperpigmentation led me to become an independent consultant with a very popular skincare brand. Because of my proven and visible results using the products, women who look like me were intrigued, and almost instantly I soared to the top of the sales charts.
While working on behalf of this company from 2016-2019, I built the largest team of consultants of color the brand had ever seen (over 40 women of color joined me in business) and grossed over $38K in sales. And this was just my “side hustle.” Once I got to the top, I noticed how not many people behind the brand looked like me and it became clearer that women of color were not the product development nor the marketing priority. This was and still is true of the skincare industry at large: The skincare industry is a $3 billion industry, yet Black brands comprise only less than 3 percent of overall beauty revenues. It’s also true that women of color are not prioritized in the clean beauty industry. There is a huge disparity in clean, yet effective skincare options that address the most common skincare concerns for women with melanated skin. I decided to create a solution for this problem and launched SelfiēSkín Co. a few months after my son was born in 2021.
When you first started your business, what were the 3 initial thoughts that pushed you forward to decide “yes this is what I want to do?”
I find a lot of inspiration in music lyrics, so here are three lyrics that pushed me forward in making my decision to launch my passion business – SelfiēSkín Co.
“Generational wealth that’s the key – my parents ain’t have [explicative] so that shift started with me.” – Jay-Z
“I’m living; my best life, made a couple M’s with my best friends, turned all my L’s into lessons – Chance the Rapper
“Ain’t nothing to it, I boss so I bought my mama a whip….my great-great-grandchildren already rich – that’s a lot of brown children on your Forbes list.” – Beyonce
What is your business mission?
The SelfiēSkín Co. mission is simple: To restore confidence in the filter-free version of your selfie – both physically and mentally.
With so many businesses within your industry, what makes your business so different and what problem(s) would you say your business solves?
It seems like every day there is a new skincare brand in the market and the celebrities are most definitely seeing the value of tapping into this $3 billion industry. Market saturation is one of the biggest challenges that SelfiēSkín Co. faces. Not only do we have to compete with the big-name labels, but we also need to stand out from the ever-increasing number of other independent brands. Where we differentiate our brand from the rest is we can relate and connect with a niche audience that may be too small for bigger brands to connect with. We know our target audience and what they care about. Through finding creative ways to connect with our target audience and sharing my own story and purpose for starting SelfiēSkín Co., our community sees the difference. Our potential impact is larger than skin improvements. We prioritize playing a pivotal role in increasing access to mental health services in our community.
What does your everyday “workday” look like?
My full-time job can be very demanding at times, so I’m often forced to work on my business once my children are sleeping. My business workday is from 9pm to the top of the next morning. It’s a sacrifice! One way to describe my workday is “multitasking” – if I’m not on a Zoom meeting for work or writing a press release, I’m fulfilling orders, exchanging emails with our chemist, graphic designer, or my Amazon rep. I am a lifetime student, so I also try to squeeze in a podcast or a class on various topics that will help me move the business forward.
Describe what you felt when you were told you were one of the Building Women for the future pitch winners?
My family and friends captured some good videos, and my physical reaction was a direct reflection of the feeling I felt when I heard SelfiēSkín Co. announced as one of the winners. Honestly – I felt a sense of relief. I have lost count of how many rejections I’ve received so I was honored to be a finalist, but to win, I felt an indescribable rush and got very emotional.
What does winning the Building Women for the Future pitch competition mean for you and your business?
The Building Women for the Future pitch competition was my first YES. So, for me, it means that at least the three judges believe in me and my mission. For SelfiēSkín Co., it means we can finally formulate our full product line and implement a robust digital and influencer marketing strategy. As the saying goes, “All you need is one YES!”
What’s one thing many people may not know about your business?
SelfiēSkín Co. is a collective brand. Many people may not know that although we have a focus on skincare, we are all about total wellness. SelfiēSkín Co. aims to reduce the stigma around mental health in communities of color by pledging to donate a portion of our annual revenue to non-profit organizations focused on building sustainable, culturally centered mental wellness communities and that provide mental wellness care and education to communities of color. Through our social impact pledge, we have plans to partner with and annually make donations to organizations like: Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness, Therapy for Black Girls, and The Boris L. Henson Foundation (BLHF), just to name a few.
What advice would you give someone who is currently trying to navigate entrepreneurship?
Remember why you started. You will face rejection, you will question if you should keep going, you will make mistakes. But, if you keep your WHY at the forefront of your mind, you will be able to recognize that those obstacles are just temporary and part of the process. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
What’s one piece of business advice someone has told you that’s stuck with you?
Your business has no place for complacency. You may be successful now, but don’t ever forget that markets, audience needs, and competitors change. A company that isn’t looking for new or better ways of doing things is a business that runs the risk of not surviving in the long run.
Where can our followers connect with you/your business on social media?
I’m on Instagram @jaemarie247.
SelfiēSkín Co. is on Facebook @selfieskinco and Instagram @selfieskin_co. Follow us!
Any additional information you’d like to add?
So, can I tell you a quick story? When Marty called, I had literally just sat down at the shampoo bowl to get my hair done. I didn’t answer. She left a voicemail and I read the transcribed version and immediately my heart started racing. My hairstylist asked if I was okay. I explained to her that I had just gotten a phone call and I’m pretty sure it’s about a pitch competition I recently applied for. Her response, “well what are you waiting for to call her back?!?” She turned the music all the way down (we were vibing, lol) and I called Marty back. The woman across from me sitting under a dryer recorded the whole thing. Let’s just say there were screams, shouts and lots of ugly crying. I felt an immediate sense of gratitude and I also knew that this was my time to shine. I am fully prepared to maximize the funding award and take SelfiēSkín Co. to the next level!