This Incubator Is Helping Black- and Latinx-Owned Brands Break Into the Beauty Industry
One year ago, entrepreneur Jaé Joseph and creative director Brianna Wise released a survey that doubled as an application for an incubator they were developing called the Black Apothecary Office (BAO): a three-month-long accelerator program designed to help Black- and Latinx-owned beauty and wellness start-ups refine their concepts, pitch to investors, and bring their brands to market, under the guidance of industry professionals. In September, the inaugural cohort graduated and marked the official launch of BAO, led by Joseph with Wise as its CEO. Together, the two aim to foster relationships between stakeholders and small-business owners in industries that have historically overlooked or undervalued concepts and products borne by creatives of color. (They plan to work with five brands at a time, and develop 100 businesses over the next decade.) Last week, the company launched BAO Universe, a digital marketplace offering goods such as velvety face oils, silky moisturizers, and hydrating shampoo from some of the brands it has worked with, as well as a namesake skin care collection anchored by papaya enzyme, a trusty exfoliant, as its main ingredient.
Joseph, a seasoned cultural producer who works across art, fashion, and film, understands the distinctive relationship women of color have with self-care: He was raised by a Caribbean American family in the Midwest, surrounded by Black and brown mothers, sisters, and cousins whose beauty regimens were both a power and a pastime. We recently spoke with Joseph about the value of a wellness practice and the need for the industry to genuinely reflect the diverse communities it serves.