After moving to Denmark founder of theBlacBox Abi Olusanya found herself frustrated with the lack of products in store for black women. Searching with very little luck Abi came up with theBlacBox, a bi-monthly personalised pampering & self-care box for black women across Europe. We spoke to Abi about how it all began and some of her experiences as a black woman in Denmark that sparked her business idea.
What inspired you to start theBlacBox?
Abi: I was inspired to start theBlacBox simply because I was looking for a service like this myself and there wasn’t one available. In Denmark (and Europe in general), there aren’t enough subscription boxes that cater effectively to black women.
Well known subscription boxes that do combine all 3 areas, unfortunately, do not cater that well to black women. I’ve tried them myself and after giving them feedback, they would reply that they were working to improve the products women with my skin tone or hair type received. Unfortunately, those improvements never materialised. I would still receive tanning products, hair products for those with fine hair, ashy blushes and concealers that were 7 shades too light.
Do you feel there is a big difference between the products available to black women in Denmark than in the UK?
Abi: Absolutely! In the UK, major retailers continue to make more of an effort to have a range of products for black women readily available in their stores. From stocking foundations that range from the lightest to darkest shades, to having an “afro hair” section in their store. I understand that this is not everywhere in the UK yet, but at least the effort is being made.
In Denmark, the effort is non-existent. Copenhagen is the city most likely to have more of a range available and even here, it is hard to find a variety of products for black women. There are a number of African stores that have food, hair products and some beauty products available, but they won’t be stocking Fenty in their stores. If you want to test a foundation before buying it, it is very unlikely that you will find your shade in person. That has been my experience anyway.
What’s been the most interesting part about starting a business for black women as a black woman yourself?
Abi: It has definitely been learning and discovering the different needs black women have in regards to their beauty products. We cater to those who barely use any products and want an easy way to start, those who love all things beauty and want to try as many products as possible and those who fall into both those categories but are also conscious buyers, who want to support the black economy.
Just because I am a black woman myself doesn’t mean that I can make assumptions about other black women based on that alone. Being aware of and constantly updating my understanding of what black women need and/or are looking for is incredibly interesting, as it changes so much from country to country and person to person.
With so many products available on the web, how do you pick which products to go into each bi-monthly unique box?
Abi: For each bi-monthly box, we look for well-known or up and coming brands that have created amazing products for black women. Then, based on reviews and advice, we choose products that match each subscribers’ needs.
That’s why we only source products from black-owned brands. They are the ones who have really thought about the different needs black women have and have actually created solutions for them. They’ve spent years creating products for us and deserve to be highlighted, especially as it’s extremely difficult to get a foot into big retail stores.
How have you found black women have reacted to theBlacBox after years of not feeling seen in the beauty industry?
Abi: The response has been amazing! Some of our subscribers struggle to find products in their area that are black-woman friendly, and they’re happy that there’s finally an easy way for them to access products that suit them. Others love that black-owned brands are finally receiving the spotlight they deserve.
I absolutely love when subscribers discover a product (or products) that will now become a staple in their routines going forward. It’s awesome because not only have they found a product that works amazingly for them, but the brand has also gained a potential customer for life.
What characteristic do you think is key to succeeding as a businesswoman?
Abi: If I had to choose just one, it’s being curious. By questioning everything around you and trying not to make assumptions, you’re better able to make quality data-driven decisions. Being curious will force you to want to understand everything about your business, and most importantly, will give you the drive you need to make the effort to collect that information.
You need to understand your customers, how they think and what they are looking for in products like yours. If you work with other businesses, you need to understand what they aim to achieve and how partnering with you will help them get there.
To get your personalised subscription box head to theBlacBox and create your profile stating your hair texture, skin type and more for the perfect box curated for you. For more self-care tips, tutorials and content follow theBlacBox on Instagram