August is officially National Black Business Month and PAPER is showing love to some of our favorite Black-owned businesses throughout the entire month. Our dedicated series, Booked x Busy, is all about shining a light on the entrepreneurs and brands that embody Black excellence.
A trillion-dollar industry, Black women spend twice as much on their favorite skincare products than any other group and one brand top of their lists? Lauren Napier Beauty.
Founded by renowned celebrity makeup artist, Lauren Napier, the luxury skincare brand revolutionized the industry in 2014 with its environmentally friendly cleansing wipes. Packed with all-natural ingredients like chamomilla, aloe and cucumber, Lauren Napier Beauty products nourish and care for skin with a serum-like formula while simultaneously removing makeup, dirt and oil. The brand has built a cult-like following from luxe retailers and celebrity fans alike, including actress Gabrielle Union and comedian Leslie Jones.
When Napier's not nourishing flawless faces, she is putting Black women first as the co-founder of Consider Something Better, an initiative that is challenging corporations to put their money where their mouth is by committing to economic equality for the next generation of Black women-led businesses.
PAPER sat down with Lauren to chat all things skin, her journey from celebrity glam squad member to global entrepreneur and what it takes to keep being so fresh and so clean.
You totally changed the beauty game with Lauren Napier Beauty. How does it feel to be the founder of an innovative skincare brand?
I am so proud to be the founder of a brand that carries my namesake. I am tickled every time I see it in the press or in a hashtag. I am also gobsmacked by the connection I have with my consumers. Lauren Napier Beauty's brand philosophy and beauty psychology resonates, knowing that gives me the thrill of a lifetime.
Tell me a little about how you did it?
It was important for me to create something innovative and develop a product that fills a space. Lauren Napier Beauty does that and our next generation products are even more exciting, effective and innovative.
What does it mean to be a Black-owned business, especially when the Black Lives Matter movement is getting so much attention?
It's an honor to be highlighted with my contemporaries, we are hardworking and deserving of all the praise. What I hope is that this is a perspective shift for beauty consumers and retailers. Yes, our businesses are Black-owned, but we create products that can be used by all. In order for us to grow, scale and become competitive in the beauty world, Black-owned beauty brands must be given the same consideration as other brands.
Lauren Napier Beauty has landed on the shelves of some of the world's most high-end retailers. What's your next dream partnership?
I am exceptionally proud of the retail relationships that I've cultivated since my brand's inception. I am so fortunate for Lauren Napier Beauty to have retailed at Net-A-Porter, Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale's Middle East, Mecca Australia and Colette Paris. I was absolutely mesmerized by Joyce Beauty on a trip to Asia; I would love to partner with Joyce Beauty. Another dream is to have a niche retail destination where skincare lovers' shop and visit from across the globe.
Photography: Bri Costello
What is it like for a Black makeup artist today? Do you feel that the industry is becoming more inclusive?
The makeup industry can be very segregated. There was a time when I was often the only Black person in the makeup room. I am seeing more people of color in the room, that adds value to the entire operation. My hope is the industry becomes as representative and reflective of the people it wishes to entertain.
How do you stay on top of being creative and developing new products for Lauren Napier Beauty?
I believe you've got to stay ahead of trends, solve problems and have a passion for the beauty culture. Developing a product is a long process that requires a lot of trial and tweaking. Dedication and patience are the only way to be successful.
Photo courtesy of Laura Napier
Who from Black culture do you look up to? Who inspires you?
Where shall I begin? I am fully inspired by the past of my ancestors. I am also inspired by those whose thoughts live eternally on the pages of literature, those whose art across the spectrum exists and is consumed for all to enjoy, and for the guys on the block and girls from around the way who are a visual feast, who set trends, create viral moments, have an unspoken dialect that moves this culture and all cultures. Not only do I have unlimited admiration, but ultimate respect.
Why is it important for the luxury skincare and beauty industry to cater to and market to Black women and men?
Black people are not a monolith. Lauren Napier Beauty is a luxury brand because that is my life experience. Black people are also luxury consumers, our shopping needs shouldn't be relegated to the one shelf of ethnic beauty — we should be able to shop luxury brands that also speak to our luxury needs. It's also important because Black women spend 9x more on beauty and skincare. It's important to cater to a group of people with a multi-trillion-dollar spending power and it's important to address the skincare needs and concerns of people who are looking for a space to spend that speaks specifically to their needs and desires.
You've always been an advocate for Black-owned businesses, especially Black female-owned brands. Which are some of your favorite products to use and wipe off using Lauren Napier Beauty products?
There are so many amazing Black-owned beauty products out there. Some of my favorites include: Beneath Your Mask, Luvscrub, Get Hyper, Epara Skincare, Marie Hunter Beauty, Range Beauty, Hanahana Beauty, Mischo Beauty and so many more!
It's so impressive that you are a Black-owned, female powered business. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business for better or worse?
COVID-19 has been quite the challenge. Lauren Napier Beauty's supply chain was impacted very early on and trickled into late spring. We work with the Foundation for the Handicapped, employing disabled adults, who are also at-risk workers. We've had to pivot and change the operational needs, but I am forever grateful for Lauren Napier Beauty fans who were so patient and generous through the process. They've even sent gifts to the warehouse and the DM's are a constant source of inspiration. My customers are the greatest!
Which beauty trends are you head-over-heels for? Which do you wish would just simply go away?
Wearing a mask. NOT WEARING A MASK.
What's your morning beauty routine before you start your busy day?
I use a Mario Badescu foaming cleanser, Dr. Rose Ingleton (a Black dermatologist) moisturizer and serum, Lauren Napier Beauty Body (coming soon!) and a rich lip treatment.
Where do you see Lauren Napier Beauty in the next five years?
If you told me five years ago, that I would become a selective recluse only leaving my house for food, I would have thought you were insane — but here we are! Lauren Napier Beauty is already a success story. I launched my business with a tax refund and an American Express card. Today, Lauren Napier Beauty is retailed in 20+ countries.
In five years, we will be exactly where we need to be, making a positive and powerful impact on the beauty world.
What business advice would you give to a younger Lauren?
There is no one out there like you, embrace that. You are audacious, industrious and fearless — don't change.
Fill in the blank: My Black is…
The world is a little more flawless thanks to you. What's next for Lauren Napier Beauty?
The next generation of Lauren Napier Beauty products are clean, gentle, luxurious and multi-purpose. I am bursting at the seams to introduce the next generation Lauren Napier Beauty products to the world. Stay tuned.
Photography: Rico Kinnard