TREND: A NEW FEMINIST WELLNESS
Black women-founded wellness businesses: a fast-growing movement and market
Two and a half years ago, the GWS released a trend report on a new “Feminist Wellness,” and a key aspect of the trend was a rising group of black women entrepreneurs moving the wellness industry beyond its narrow image and target market: young, skinny, white women. A movement was brewing, with black women founders creating their own wellness and beauty brands, spaces and experiences. We spotlighted pioneers, including Black Girl In Om, a holistic platform focusing on mental and spiritual wellness for women of color; OMNoire’s wellness retreats for black women; and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, shaking up the beauty market with a cosmetic line reflecting the actual spectrum of women’s skin tones.
Back in 2018, there were a relative handful of examples. Oh, what a difference two years has made: Hundreds of black women-owned wellness businesses are now making their mark in the fitness, meditation and mental health, healthy food, wellness travel, activewear, sexual wellness, and wellness technology markets. Fashionista just aggregated 300+ black-owned beauty and skin-care brands alone!
So, while #WellnessSoWhite has been a disturbing reality—and the wellness world still has a profound inclusivity problem—we need to recognize that black woman-founded wellness companies and concepts are one of the most important, creative and fast-growing movements and markets in the wellness and beauty space…period.
BUY FROM BLACK-OWNED WELLNESS BUSINESSES
Rather than just posting thoughts and prayers for a devastated community, we need to buy from black-owned wellness companies today.
In the US, black-owned firms are twice as likely to be rejected for business loans. Just 12 percent of black and Latino business owners who applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) during the pandemic reported receiving what they asked for, and half say they will be forced to close permanently. The number of African-American business owners plummeted by 40 percent during the Coronavirus, a far steeper decline than any other racial group experienced.
The media has been doing the important job of compiling the amazing, diverse black-owned global wellness businesses and products. These are just a few resources to help you buy from them today. Show support; it’s important.
Well+Good – 100+ Black-Owned Wellness Businesses to Support Now and Always
New York Magazine – 125 Black-Owned Businesses to Support
BET – 44 Black-Owned Beauty and Wellness Brands to Buy Now
Vogue – 68 Black-Owned Fashion and Beauty Brands to Support Now and Always
From the 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report: A New Feminist Wellness:
Women of Color Revise #WellnessSoWhite
The wellness industry has long—and extremely justifiably—been criticized for projecting a very narrow image: a tall, young, skinny, white woman. It’s maddening for women of color, and just about most women. #WellnessSoWhite has been a stubborn reality, a serious problem with representation, even though spa, beauty, travel and fitness companies know firsthand that women of color are very passionate about self-care and a powerful customer base.
In 2018, we’ll see change. We’ll see more entrepreneurial women of color solve for women of color: whether with designed-for-them yoga classes and wellness retreats or beauty brands rolling out inclusive cosmetic lines to reflect the actual spectrum of skin tones. And we’ll see more women of color become more visible and powerful in wellness generally, whether as fitness influencers or company founders—remaking wellness as a much less white space. Perhaps it was telling that Vogue’s January 2018 issue featured Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o (a crucial voice speaking out against Harvey Weinstein) on the cover, in yoga tree pose atop a paddleboard, with the word “wellness” splashed across the cover.
There will be more fitness and yoga classes and wellness retreats designed as empowering sanctuaries for women of color. The pioneer was Black Girl In OM from Chicago, a multidimensional wellness brand that “creates space for women of color to breathe easy”: a collective of classes (like Self-Care Sundays), health workshops, and an online publication and podcast Om that reaches women of color well beyond Chicago. Women are launching wellness studios for people of color generally, like Yogahood in London, founded by Sanchia Legister, whose sold-out classes have an urban vibe that’s a far cry from the usual canned spiritual gong soundtrack. And Legister has recently launched Gyal Flex, “the urban face of well-being,” a class that fuses hip-hop with meditation. Oya Retreats recently launched the first yoga retreat for women of color in the UK and branched out to urban yoga retreats in London. In the US, Elyse Fox founded Sad Girls Club in 2017 to create a real-life community for young women of color with mental health issues.
There will be more wellness media platforms for women of color, like OMNoire, launched in 2017 by serial entrepreneurs Christina Rice and Amber Forester, which encompasses yoga, meditation and spiritual growth, as well as holding wellness retreats throughout the year. Their first (sold-out) retreat was held last fall in Grenada, attracting women from around the world.
The beauty industry is getting an inclusivity shake-up, finally creating products beyond the old “three shades of brown” for women of color—with new product lines exploding any old-school belief that darker skin care doesn’t sell. The big story in 2017: the launch of pop star Rihanna’s beauty brand, Fenty, a cosmetics line that includes foundation in 40 shades. It has lit up social media on the topic of diversity in beauty and raked in a cool $72 million in earned media in its first month. Vogue named it (and greater inclusivity in beauty generally) a top 2018 beauty trend, saying Fenty Beauty “singlehandedly changed the conversation,” and NDP Beauty UK argues that you can expect to see more brands following this strategy in 2018.
More women of color will stake their rightful space in wellness in 2018: whether entrepreneurs like Latham Thomas, whose Mama Glow is a wellness resource for new and expecting mothers, or practitioners like yoga guru, Jessamyn Stanley.
This is an excerpt from the “A New Feminist Wellness” trend in the 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report.