How five POC-owned fashion and beauty brands are dealing with inflation – WWD

How five POC-owned fashion and beauty brands are dealing with inflation – WWD

Small businesses, and particularly those owned by people of color, have faced a variety of challenges since the onset of the pandemic and the resulting impact on store closures, supply chain links and changing consumer demand.

And given the impact of inflation, these challenges are not abating.

The latest US inflation rate, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in June, was 9.1 percent, higher than since the early 1980s.

A March Bank of America survey found that 88 percent of small business owners said inflation was affecting their business, 68 percent have raised prices, and 34 percent have had to reevaluate cash flow and spending.

And just as communities of color tend to feel the effects of inflation more, businesses owned by people of color who may have less access to capital to meet some of the rising costs, as has been the case in the past, may be hit harder be.

Here, WWD hears from five fashion and beauty brands owned by people of color how inflation is affecting their businesses.


Cuyana hats

Panama hats are made in Ecuador for Cuyana.


Cuyana, a women’s clothing and accessories brand that specializes in sustainable handbags, has had to raise its prices due to inflation, but the company’s co-founder and chief executive Karla Gallardo said customers have remained supportive despite the price hikes.

“Like most companies, Cuyana is not immune to the effects of inflation. The current climate presents us with challenges such as increasing costs for our materials, production and transport, which ultimately leads to an increase in the prices of our products. At the beginning of the pandemic, when these fluctuations were very unpredictable, we decided to adopt the initial increases without affecting our suppliers and customers,” Gallardo said.

“With every decision we try to take a longer-term perspective and recognize that our business works in symbiosis with people at both ends of our supply chain. However, as it became clearer that the rising prices would continue, we realized that maintaining this stance was unsustainable for our company. We have shared this position openly and honestly with our customers. They responded with a flood of support, recognizing that we would only take this step if absolutely necessary,” she said.

The folk group

Looks by Selfi (L) and Connade (R), two brands from The Folklore Group

Looks from Selfi (left) and Connade (right), two brands featured in The Folklore Group.

Courtesy of The Folklore Group

Folklore Group, a company creating a global ecosystem where consumers can explore, connect and shop with designer brands from Africa and the diaspora, takes a different view on inflation.

“There’s an old saying that blacks get pneumonia when whites catch a cold. I think that perfectly defines what is happening to black businesses right now as a result of inflation. It’s affecting the world, but it’s especially tough on black people and black businesses who have a history of being denied access to economic opportunity,” said Amira Rasool, Founder and CEO of The Folklore Group.

“As a company that relies on the services of other companies, we have seen price increases from some of our service providers that we did not expect. We are also a company that serves other black-owned small businesses that face the same inflationary problems when it comes to shipping, fabric sourcing and other areas of production. Our success depends on being able to help these brands become more successful, and inflation has become a bit more challenging,” she said.

Brown girl Jane

Brown Girl Jane Ad

Brown Girl Jane’s Wanderlust fragrance collection is now available.


According to Malaika Jones, CEO and founder of skincare, personal care and wellness brand Brown Girl Jane, inflation has caused the brand’s production costs and materials to increase.

“Effective mood-boosting solutions, especially in turbulent times, remain a priority for our clients who have made self-care a ‘must’. We’re grateful that sales of our fragrance-centric wellness collection have not been negatively impacted to date, and we expect to continue to do so as women prioritize ‘wellbeing’ supplements with an immediate impact,” said Jones.

“However, we have certainly seen increases in the cost of raw materials, freight and components due to inflation. We chose to absorb these costs rather than pass them on to our buyers and have been able to do so thanks to a healthy mix of direct and wholesale distribution,” she said.

Hanahana beauty

Start of the Hanahana project Skin Skin Nutrition

Hanahana Beauty Skin Nutrition

Courtesy of the brand

Hanahana Beauty is a clean skincare and wellness brand dedicated to empowering women of color who are facing additional pressures due to the country’s economic situation.

“We have seen the direct impact of inflation on packaging and ingredient sourcing, particularly on freight prices. For us as a brand, our main goal at the moment is how do we scale sustainably? So we’re very scrupulous about how we spend our dollars… and what the outcome is,” said Abena Boamah-Acheampong, founder and CEO of Hanahana Beauty.

“But at the same time, we know our customers are impacted, so we want to continue educating our community about the impact of inflation on Hanahana Beauty,” she said.

Riot Swimming

Riot Swim Echo One Piece Swimsuit

One-piece Echo swimsuit by Riot Swim.

Courtesy of Revolve

Monti Saunders, the founder of luxury beach and women’s brand Riot Swim, along with members of the brand’s team, say they’ve learned to become more adaptable as the business continues to undergo changes due to inflation.

“In today’s inflationary climate, not only is it taking a toll on POC companies, but all small business owners are witnessing the impact of inflation. Small businesses think outside the box and look for different ways to keep expanding. As they face difficult challenges that have made entrepreneurs more adaptable during this time, there must now be a shift in focus to operational and strategic planning that could directly impact customers, employees and the performance of the business,” they said in a joint statement on WWD.

“Customers’ purchasing needs have shifted with the rise in inflation, and more and more people are focusing on purchasing essential items over apparel, shoes and beauty products. Inflation has also caused some companies to increase their prices due to supply chain factors to meet their business needs. POC business owners are constantly looking for alternative methods to further secure their business needs and we hope to continue setting long-term goals even with the rise in interest rates and other numerous factors that have influenced inflation,” they said.

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