By Hamzat Sani, Special o the AFRO
Dr. Kristian Henderson is shameless about her purpose. “We wanted to connect people with products that were better for them and products that weren’t linked with hormonal issues, cancers, fibroids,” Henderson told the AFRO. She officially launched her eco-conscious business BLK+GRN in February of this year and has already amassed a following large enough to prove her theory; Black artisans and Black consumers are clamoring to connect, it’s just been hard for them to find each other.
At face value BLK+GRN’s mission seems pretty simple:
“To Connect People With High-quality, Toxic-free Products That Cultivate Wellness And Support Forward-thinking Black Artisans.”
However practically executing on that mission is a bit more challenging than one might think. Take first BLK+GRN’s focus on supporting exclusively Black vendors and artisans. Less than 5 percent of businesses in the U.S. are Black owned. Add in that the company only sells 100 percent natural products featuring items that are ethically sourced, toxic and cruelty free in its stocklist, a feat many eco-friendly companies can’t boast. Then top it all off with a laser focus on empowering and lifting Black female artisans and entrepreneurs and you might find yourself wondering if the company is too niche to sustain.
According to Henderson the opposite is true, “What we know is that products that are marketed directly to women of color, 75 percent of them are considered toxic, and we also know that women of color are three times as likely to buy personal care products than any other demographic, so we are consuming these products a lot more than other demographics.” With wellness becoming a journey more Black women are embarking on the demand for products, goods and services that address their holistic needs is skyrocketing.
“I remember at the time I wasn’t doing any marketing and I had the website up and I started putting products on there before I even had inventory just to see what it would like and mock up the customer experience, you know building, and people started ordering and I was like whoa… But it was confirmation that we needed this because even without me pushing it people had already found it and already placed an order.”
For Henderson the foundation of BLK+GRN was a spreadsheet created as she went through her personal struggles to buy exclusively Black products to further her holistic wellness. The spreadsheet/directory helped her to keep track of the people, products and bands that she could bank on to help her stay intentional about “Buying Black” while also staying green and well. The platform is a one stop shop for a growing list of holistic essentials to keep you both exclusively Black and green. Shopping is categorized efficiently with focuses on Skin, Hair, Home, Jewelry, Nourish, Stationery and Wellness. Shoppers on the site can browse amongst any of the categories or if they would rather, shop by brand to make sure they are supporting their favorite artisan. In addition to actually being able to shop many of these hard to find items BLK+GRN also provides a detailed description of each brand, its founders and links to the brands’ website. While the platform obviously promotes the brands it sells, they also have a listing of Black owned products not on their site but loved by them nevertheless. For those that live in Atlanta, New York and BLK+GRN’s current homebase of D.C., the site also has a categorized listing of Black owned businesses to patronize like Bikram Ivy City or Industrial Bank. This all jives with the company’s focus on being Black inclusive, while also pushing for healthier, more innovative and sustainable products to come to market.
BLK+GRN also hosts BLK Oasis, which had its first stop in Atlanta. The touring event is a showcase of the brands, offerings and experience. “It is bringing together a tribe of women who are really invested in self care, self love and invested in supporting each other.” Guests were treated to nail care, hair care consultations, massages, as well as healthy food and drinks while shopping some premium black brands at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta. BLK Oasis will be journeying to New Orleans, New York, Chicago and landing in D.C. on August 19th. For more information on the BLK+GRN movement checkout www.blkgrn.com.