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For Joy Belle, Founder and CEO of Crwned Beauty Co., the motivation behind launching her beauty supply business in the middle of a worldwide pandemic was about more than selling products–it’s been about giving her Black customers a chance to purchase empowerment.
Crowned Beauty is made by and for black women, offering products that range from personalized jewelry and hair care to lip gloss and eyelash accessories.
“I wanted to build an inclusive beauty brand that people would come to my website and see that this was made for them,” Joy Belle said. She launched her brand in June of 2020, a few months into the Coronavirus pandemic.
Belle said the lack of beauty brands made with Black women in mind inspired her to fill a gap in the market. Her tone rose with enthusiasm as she explained the myriad of ways that black people contribute to society with little reciprocation. “Because everybody wants to be like Black people but nobody wants to be Black people,” Belle said.
Belle’s decision to start her company in the midst of nationwide lockdowns represented a rejection of the statistics that were stacked against her. Nearly a quarter of all small businesses in the country were closing. The numbers were drastically worse for Black-owned businesses–with roughly 40 percent having to shut their doors between February and April 2020. And in some ways the news has been even more severe for Black women-owned businesses.
Before the pandemic, Black women were starting businesses at a faster rate than any other group of women, and represented 42 percent of women-owned businesses, three times their share of the women population.
It was this spirit of entrepreneurship that gave Joy Belle the energy to push through the pandemic during ups and downs in her business.
“In the thick of the pandemic, I kind of felt like I wasn’t doing enough. There was a point where I was like maybe I should just stop. Pretend it never existed,” Belle said as she remembered how waves of customers that sought her services at her initial launch would morph into valleys of little business as the months went on. “But then I was just like, no. If I wanna get to a certain spot, I have to work really hard for it.”
The millennial Oklahoma City business owner said she draws inspiration from people like Rihanna. Many were shocked when news broke that Rihanna’s inclusive lingerie clothing line arm of her “Fenty” brand announced it was closing indefinitely. Still, that hasn’t stopped the singer/fashion designer from soaring beyond expectations in other areas.
“She’s always been like a fashion icon,” Belle said of Rihanna. “And so, her dreams of having a high couture brand being put on pause would make someone else shut down. But she just released her Valentine’s Day collection and her Spring collection and every piece is so bomb. So, for me to see that inspired me to keep going.”
Belle said she went from assuming customers would come to her, to proactively seeking out what it is that her customers want in a company. After revamps and rebranding, she realized the key was to not let the ups and downs stop her from pushing through to her goals.
Belle said she noticed several brands that were small before the pandemic learned innovative ways to grow, and have become major companies. “If they can do it, why can’t I? If I can do it, why can’t you?” Belle said.