In 2017, Kimberly Smith founded the e-commerce boutique, Marjani Beauty, to help fill the gap of available beauty and cosmetics products curated for women of color.
Dedicated to women of color by people of color, the goal of Marjani Beauty is to build a one-stop-shop experience from across the globe.
“We are seeing black and brown customers abroad who are not finding what they need locally, but they are able to find options through our website,” explained Smith. “We are curating a global system just around beauty.”
The brand also has a physical storefront, the Brown Beauty Co-op, in Washington DC, but its reach is international thanks to its e-commerce platform.
To find and connect with potential customers, Marjani Beauty prioritizes optimizing its website for SEO.
“Google is our number one friend when it comes to a global reach,” the founder noted. “I’ve noticed that all of our international customers find us on Google through organic searches.”
Social media platforms also provide an important medium for Smith and her team to connect with customers and markets worldwide.
“We had an online presence before the pandemic and we interacted a lot with our community on Instagram. [Throughout the pandemic,] we’ve had to take it to another level,” she noted.
Today, Marjani Beauty has important markets all over the world with the largest in the Asia-Pacific and Europe. To cater to a variety of customers, its website also offers a currency converter letting international customers browse in the United States Dollar (USD), Australian Dollar (AUD), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Singapore Dollar (SGD) and the Euro.
For Smith, exporting enabled her business to diversify and grow.
From digital skills building to navigating export regulations, going global was full of complexities and hurdles for Marjani Beauty.
“It needs to be easier for people to learn and understand the “how-tos” of exporting,” Smith said. “A huge challenge for us is connecting all of the right dots and understanding how all of the different pieces are interconnected.”
More broadly, Smith emphasized the importance of supporting small businesses by listening to their experiences. “[The pandemic has been a] learning process and a wake-up call for everyone to understand how best to support small businesses and businesses that are black and brown-owned,” Smith concluded.