Nyakio Grieco’s new beauty brand is called Relevant: Your Skin Seen and their very first skincare product smart, a joy to apply, and will help make your complexion better—no matter your skin color, gender, or age. What is this wonder product? It’s a multitasking cream called One and Done and it acts as your serum, moisturizer, primer, and, most importantly, your sunscreen.
“It’s made for everyone,” Grieco says. “And that definitely includes Black and brown people. There’s still this underlying myth that Black and brown people don’t need sunscreen, which isn’t true. Melanoma rates are on the rise in our community.”
It’s true, UV rays can cause damage to all skin colors. And yet “in speaking with people about their skincare regimens, many admitted that SPF was an extra step that was easy to skip,” Grieco says. Her product is meant to solve that problem while also treating your skin to hydrators (like squalene and hyaluronic acid) and antioxidants (like plum oil, kigelia extract, buriti oil, seabuckthorn, and green tea). “It also doesn’t leave a white or purple cast on my skin, doesn’t transfer to my clothes, and it doesn’t pill under my makeup,” Grieco adds.
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To fully understand this product drop and the brand as a whole, it helps to know Grieco’s incredible story. Twenty years ago, when Grieco was 27 years old, she set out to launch a namesake beauty brand based on her African grandparents’ skincare knowledge and rituals (her grandmother was a coffee farmer; her grandfather a medicine man). “Looking back, I’m so thankful for my naivete to go for my dream so unapologetically. But as I went through the process of trying to raise capital there were a lot of doors slammed in my face,” she says. While the brand enjoyed big wins, “I remember a lot of stops and starts because I didn’t have enough money to fill my orders. It was devastating and soul crushing.”
In the summer of 2020 as our country was in the throes of its racial reckoning, Grieco had a realization: “I’d always attributed the lack of interest from venture capitalists to my lack of experience. Now I better understand the true equity I was facing. It had a lot to do with not only being a female entrepreneur but a Black female entrepreneur. Lack of capital is one of the main reasons many BIPOC founders haven’t experienced the level of success that some of their white counterparts have.”
Suddenly, however, because of the Black Lives Matter movement, her brand was garnering recognition and being included in media round-ups of Black-founded brands to shop and support. “It was lovely. It also made me realize that I had never had that sort of recognition for Nyakio Beauty for the past 18 years and that there were so many other amazing Black-founded brands that I didn’t know about,” she says. That’s when Grieco had an idea. She, along with her co-founder, created an e-commerce site for inclusive beauty brands with ninety percent of it comprised of BIPOC founded brands and ten percent on ally-focused brands. “I also wanted to use it as a chance to show that the products that Black and brown people launch aren’t only for Black and brown people. So many people have this misconception. Meanwhile, we’ve been using products made by people who don’t look like us our whole lives,” Grieco says. The site started with 13 brands; now there’s close to 150 brands that cater to people of all skin colors, hair textures, genders, and ages.
During all of this, Grieco was at work on her next brand venture, relevant. “For the first time as a Black woman, I finally had the runway, the support, and the opportunity to create the brand of my wildest dreams,” she says. So she cherry picked the best of the best formulators (a purposefully diverse bunch), took time to research how to better serve all consumers, and considered ingredients she’d never had access to before. Earlier this year she closed on a three million dollar seed round and Relevant will be profitable from day one. “I’ve never gotten to say that before. It’s a testament to this industry. There are more people that want to see positive change and be a part of this change than not.” With the first product now available, she says there’s much more to come.
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