When you visit Coil Beauty’s website and see four fists of color, you know you’re home. In an industry traditionally known for its lack of inclusiveness, Founder and CEO Aisha Shannon-Bates and COO and partner Kethlyn White decided to create an online community and marketplace that caters to the unique needs of women of color. The new e-commerce site carries emerging beauty products for women of color - and it gets better, because the brands they carry are owned by people of color too! The site launched in 2018 after Shannon-Bates became frustrated with her shopping experiences at major retail stores. There was often no one to answer questions, make product suggestions, or give any advice on common beauty woes. Seeing this void, Shannon-Bates worked with White to not only improve the online shopping experience for WOC, but offer a well-curated selection of products to address their concerns. Their growing product selection includes some well-known brands, such as The Lip Bar, Camille Rose and Lime Green. From nail polish to tinted moisturizer, they have products women of color are eager to try.
In a MILQ Magazine exclusive, Coil Beauty Founder candidly discusses the upheavals of creating a brand from scratch, and offers some much needed insight on the value of more African-American women represented in the digital beauty arena.
MILQ: Why do you believe it's important to have a digital space for WOC and their beauty needs?
Aisha Shannon-Bates: We believe it is essential for the beauty industry to have representation and a space for all types of beauty in order to continue to evolve. Our site and social media pages showcase women of color in all shapes, sizes, color and everything in between. Coil Beauty gives us the opportunity to engage with our customers through a variety of platforms: they can email us, they can chat with us on any of our social channels, some of our #CoilBeauties and #CoilKids have made videos we’ve featured on our Youtube channel and our ever present “Hey” button lets customers interact with us quickly.
MILQ: What were some initial challenges that both overcame when starting a business?
Aisha: The biggest challenge I've had to overcome when starting Coil Beauty was not really knowing where to start when starting a business. The first task I completed was getting a logo which I thought was my brand but it was not a brand it was just a logo. Once I sat down with someone who develops brands for a living and went through brand discovery, logo development and creating our voice that was the moment Coil Beauty was born. And, the brand development paid off because now when people have questions about my brand or even when my team and I are trying to work through something whether it’s creating a social media graphic or a discount code we revisit our brand book to guide us and without it I do not think we would be where we are today.
MILQ: What makes COIL Beauty unique?
Aisha: Coil Beauty is unique because it’s a site that was created with the idea of showcasing people of color and making it easier to shop for people of color. Coil Beauty was created to make our customers feel like they are important and not an afterthought; we accomplish this with the products we carry and also they way we choose to showcase so many types of black beauty. Coil Beauty also interacts directly with our customers via email, via social media and our “Hey” button which resides in the top right corner of every page on our website. Questions our consumers ask are typically answered by professionals in the field of beauty. We also attend hair shows and expos always looking to interact with our customers, look for new products and to be educated at these events.
MILQ: What is the vision for the company in the long run?
Aisha: The vision for Coil Beauty in the long run is that Coil Beauty will be the go to place to shop for products for people of color. We want people to say I’m having this issue and I need something to fix it and then to say ‘let me go checkout coil and see what they have for me’. We want brick and mortar stores and we want our customers to know that Coil Beauty is theirs and we welcome their feedback and their smiling faces.