If you’re familiar with the blog, you know that I started a Black-owned business directory in 2020 to amplify Black voices and entrepreneurship in our community. It’s been so amazing to watch this list grow with so many incredible businesses. To celebrate Black History Month, I want to go a step further and get to know a few of the business owners listed in the directory. Check back weekly to learn about someone new!
I use Afiya’s Beauty’s daily face oil serum as well as a few of their other products and I love them. My skin has never been so glowy. Sisters, Kaltum and Shamsa, are very passionate about what they do and it shows in their products. Learn more about their philosophy and experience as small business owners below.
Tell me a bit about yourselves…
We are two sisters who share a passion and love affair with all things clean and holistic beauty. The name Afiya means wellness and health in Arabic and Swahili and it is really the cornerstone of our brand. Through our business we strive to provide not only effective products to our customers, but also create engaging and valuable content and information. We love to create innovative products that are not only beneficial for the skin, but also promote various aspects of wellness, as well as sustainability.
When and why did you start Afiya Beauty?
Afiya Beauty in concept came together in 2018, however; we actively started pursuing our dream in 2019 by taking action and becoming certified organic skincare formulators. 2019 was a busy year that brought a new pregnancy and baby along with several trade shows. We were widely successful selling our products in person to our customers which allowed us to gain the confidence to fully commit and move forward within our business.
The reason why we started Afiya Beauty started off as a happy accident. Our favorite products had long ingredient lists we couldn’t understand, and we started off making “DIY” body products from our kitchen. We quickly fell in love with formulating and dove head-first into the world of organic skincare formulation. That led us to create our own products and our own platform. We developed a strong interest in clean beauty, natural skincare and wellness, and through our business and skincare education, we found that many of the resources and spaces we turned to were lacking representation of women that look like us and share our perspective. When we started taking up space at markets, trade shows and craft fairs, we were surprised to see that there were few BIPOC entrepreneurs present in these spaces and to be honest not a lot of WOC attending these shows. This lack of representation is across the clean beauty industry and it is particularly damaging because it sells wellness as exclusive, overpriced and unattainable by most women, when in fact wellness is very broad and multifaceted and should be available to everyone. In terms of BIPOC women, particularly Black women, they are oftentimes under-resourced and historically excluded from the wellness industry. In fact, Black women are known to experience negative health outcomes at a much higher rate due to environmental toxins from personal care products.
These reasons fuelled our ‘why’ and it quickly became apparent to us that our work transcends making skincare products. Although beauty has light and playful connotations to it – it really is a huge part of our identity and informs a lot of our decisions and how we feel about ourselves, especially as Black women. It is very important to us that when consumers encounter our brand that they see on a non-verbal level all walks of life, all skin tones and all ages to feel included.
At Afiya Beauty we wanted to explore the concept of bringing intention to an oftentimes mundane part of the day – which is your skincare routine. We understand that our customers care greatly about the type of products they use and want to know that our products not only provide effective results, but that they are made with non-toxic ingredients, promote intention and mindfulness, and are formulated ethically and sustainably, all while representing women of colour. Our mission is to educate our local community on what really is going on in the everyday products they use, and the political, socioeconomic and harmful health impacts their beauty cabinet holds.
What has it been like growing your business here?
The local community here is amazing. There are so many resources available to small business owners and our incredible customer base buys from us regularly and refer their friends and family. This community sees the value of shopping local and supporting small businesses and we are so grateful for the outpour of love and support in these challenging times.
Advice to aspiring business owners?
Be adaptable and flexible. Things move so fast in the world of entrepreneurship you really just have to go with it, remember done is better than perfect. Also don’t give up on your ambitions just because it takes time to accomplish them, if you keep going you will inevitably get to where you want to be.
What do you hope is next for Afiya Beauty?
We are busy building our lab and studio space and we hope to host wellness inspired workshops (fingers crossed in person) and build our online virtual wellness studio. We are super excited to be offering themed seasonal subscription boxes this year as well!
Anything you’d like to add?
We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to everyone who supported their communities by buying local. In this age of global economic, political and social instability, buying local really matters.