AFRICA'S ELIXERS ARE READY TO CHARM THE WORLD
Storytelling by Tori Elliott
The first time you smell Africa Miranda’s Luminous Body Mist, if feels like it should come with a fizzy drink and a beach chair in Saint Tropez. The clean, clear bottle and sleek gold cap make the bottle itself something you’d want to have on display on a shelf or in a cabinet. And for Miranda, whose product is geared towards women of color, that’s intentional.
As an actress, model, and influencer, Miranda has represented several beauty brands for most of her career. But as a woman of color, something didn’t sit right with her about the products for women of her demographic.
“Everything for women of color, especially black women, is so ugly,” she said. “All these products, you see how they’re packaged, they all look cheap, like they just expect us to buy it anyway.” Miranda knew she wanted to create something for women like herself, something that would be an affordable luxury for all women, but especially black women, that would look as luxurious as it felt to use.
Her inspiration came during a solo trip to Brazil in 2015. “My family is from Cape Verde, so the culture felt very familiar,” she said. “I wanted to capture the spirit of the place, and to tell stories through my products.” Miranda bottled her Brazil trip in her first product, a facial elixir featuring ingredients from Brazil like maracuja oil and cupacau butter.
While this was the beginning of Miranda’s beauty business, she learned the ropes of entrepreneurship in childhood. “My family owned a lot of small businesses,” she said. “I grew up working the cash register at my grandparents’ grocery store in Alabama.” Though those types of businesses are not often the kind glorified by the Silicon Valley vision of entrepreneurship, Miranda says that growing up in an entrepreneurial family helped her reframe how she viewed her career as working talent and, later, in her own business.
“I got to a point with my career as working talent where I began viewing myself as the product I was selling as an entrepreneur,” she said. “Instead of waiting for my agent to call or worrying about if I’d booked a job, when I viewed myself as a product that I had to manage, I felt more empowered to make decisions and take risks.” This mindset, Miranda says, was integral in helping her later launch her beauty business. It also allowed her to see and capitalize on opportunities others were missing.
“I realized that I was learning all these social media skills for my job representing brands, and building communities on social media, and that I could leverage that for the work that I wanted to be doing,” she said.
As Miranda built her community online, she became more and more convinced that traditional beauty brands were missing out on speaking to women like her.
“Sometimes I am the only black woman in the room,” she said. “And a lot of these companies focus on where they feel comfortable, they look for someone that looks like them.”
Miranda’s line of beauty products seek to fill that gap, and she’s leveraged the power of the social networks she built to power her company. Miranda found the chemist, another woman of color, who helped her create her first two beauty products, on Twitter. She was able to launch without having to worry about bulk ordering from a large distributor, and market directly to her community of nearly 45,000 Instagram followers.
“What I realized is that super funding wasn’t needed,” she said. “The beauty of being underestimated, it makes you think of nontraditional ways to do things.”
Miranda says the entrepreneurship community in New York has been integral to supporting her work. “We support each other, connect each other to resources, plug each other’s products,” she said. “That’s how we make it happen. The city pushes you to be great.”
You can learn more about Africa Miranda here.
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