This week, we shine light on Shontay Lundy, the beautiful founder who acknowledged this major gap in the market and ran with it! Meet Black Girl Sunscreen, founded in 2016 by a team determined to create a natural non-white residue sunscreen brand for women of colour.
Black Girl Sunscreen’s story begins with the need for melanin women to have a sunscreen brand that caters exclusively to them. Amen to that! Shontay says she purposely chose ingredients that would “moisturize” the skin and made sure none of her products left “white residue” on dark skin — one of the biggest complaints Black customers have when it comes to using sunscreen. In hindsight, it seems Shontay made sure her product addressed all of the possible excuses people of color might have for avoiding sunscreen.
Here at The Cowe, we’re always trying to make our product lineup as natural as possible. Black Girl Sunscreen checks all of our boxes, their products use NO parabens, or other harmful chemicals while infusing the finest ingredients, including avocado, jojoba, cacao, carrot juice and sunflower oil to shield and moisturize your melanated skin. It gets better! BGS is oxybenzone and octinoxate free, meaning you won’t have to worry about toxics disrupting your hormones, and if your sunscreen is environmentally friendly.
In Shontay’s interview with Business Insider, she said: “Normally, Black people don’t wear sunscreen because we weren’t taught to do so, I didn’t know if anyone would purchase Black Girl Sunscreen — however, I did know that I couldn’t be the only Black girl that was looking for sunscreen.”
And that’s a damn fact! Shontay’s bestseller is the OG Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 and she has a Make It Matte SPF 45 sunscreen stick, both options are reasonably priced with raving reviews. Shontay recently launched her first BGS Kids SPF 50 product and mama’s are already raving about it.
Shontay grew up believing that investing in higher education and getting that degree were major keys to becoming successful. She got her bachelor’s and MBA in business administration, management, and operations and started working for major corporations. This inspired her desire to run her own biz as she quickly learned she was never afraid to get her hands dirty. Shontay spent 12 years working at different, more conservative corporations in Miami for 12 years before “finally realizing two things. 1. I needed to quit, 2. No one was talking to black girls about protecting their skin.”
Flash forward a few years and today Shontay is a self-made millionaire who continues to grow her brand, Black Girl Sunscreen. Black Girl Sunscreen is currently the only independent Black-owned brand carried full time in Target’s sun care section. It’s also sold in retailers worldwide. The company’s valuation reportedly tops $5 million and earlier this summer, it secured a $1 million investment in private funding, Forbes reported. Impressive much?
“I’m in my mid-thirties, and from what I know now, Black female entrepreneurs have been ignored in the funding space,” Shontay told Business Insider. “[VCs] need to recognize the power of the Black dollar and that Black and brown people are creating amazing products and offering great services.”
There’s definitely a pattern of mistrust in granting significant funds to black women looking to start their own biz. Yet, time and time again investors are often impressed (and surprised) at how well these products targeted towards a BIPOC demographic do. It’s about damn time that we start normalizing funding for black women. “The industry has now recognized that there is a market,” Shontay said.” The industry has become aware that black women will spend the money to take care of themselves.”
Shontay inspires us with her ambition and energy. The pandemic has not held Shontay and her team back from continuing to grow, she recently confirmed in her interview with Business Insider that BGS’s e-commerce has grown at an exponential rate as a result of her team’s ‘all hands on deck’ mentality to enhance their social media strategy, increase marketing efforts and ultimately work longer hours.
Shontay’s advice for you goal getters looking to go off on your own.
Don’t be afraid to be niche: That’s part of what makes Black Girl Sunscreen so successful. Most people are worried about excluding mass market. But what we’re really doing is just focusing on a certain group of people. We’re niche because I am my company’s target audience. I am that Black girl. So, if you find something that is close to you and you’re passionate about it, stick to that.
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