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3 Black Female Founders Share Their Greatest Sources Of Inspiration

Any time of the year is a good time to amplify Black voices and support the work of Black Americans, from artists and activists to entrepreneurs. But Black History Month is an especially apt moment to shine a light on extraordinary people who are paving the way for change and advancement. That’s why we reached out to three inspiring Black founders of innovative wellness and beauty brands—all incredible women who are working to make their industries more inclusive and accessible—to learn more about their stories.

Here, Janell Stephens, founder of Camille Rose, Nadine Joseph, founder of Peak and Valley, and Samia Gore, founder of Body Complete Rx, share the greatest challenges they overcame in founding their brands, as well as what inspires them most as they continue to grow.

Janell Stephens, Founder of Camille Rose

What led you to create a wellness brand—and how does the mission of the brand connect to your personal identity? 

I was inspired to create Camille Rose because I was on a quest for all things natural. I wanted to use products that contained ingredients I could pronounce, that were rich in moisture and ingredients that would aid in the health of hair, and that would give you the glowiest skin ever.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome as a Black female founder?

As a woman of color in the beauty industry, I had to overcome the challenge of finding a lab partner that believed in my vision. I found that it was hard to be taken seriously and to be seen as a leader in this industry. I had to prove myself many times over to be given the same opportunities as those who are not Black or Brown.

Who or what is your daily inspiration?  

I am motivated by the mixing of several ingredients and seeing how the final formulation performs for my customers. I absolutely love creating gourmet hair and body treatments!

What is your definition of success?

Success is goal achievement. Setting goals for yourself in life, no matter how big or small, and not stopping until your goals are achieved—that is success to me.

Why does representation matter in the wellness industry?

It’s so important to be an influence on everyone in this world. All races need to feel that they are included, that they are wanted, and that they can see themselves in others who are at different levels in life. We want to be noticed, highlighted, featured, and recognized.

Nadine Joseph, Founder of Peak And Valley

What led you to create a wellness brand—and how does the mission of the brand connect to your personal identity? 

It all started in 2015. I was a stressed-out neuroscience researcher juggling multiple projects and experiencing the symptoms of chronic stress. Even after my schedule balanced out, my symptoms persisted. And so I did what I knew—I scoured the library of scientific publications for a solution. Growing up, my mom instilled a holistic approach to health within me, and so I looked for natural remedies at the intersection of science and traditional medicine. 

After months of research, I uncovered the botanicals that would help and formulated our signature blends for skin, brain, and stress support. But I soon discovered the shady herbal trade. I wanted to know: Where did the ingredients come from? What cultures and traditions have used these ingredients before? Were the farmers being compensated fairly? Were these ingredients farmed with sustainability in mind? Most of the time, suppliers refused to share where they procured herbs from (and sometimes didn’t even know!). 

And so I decided to travel worldwide and source all of our herbs myself, with the goal to support and uplift the global herbal community through our direct sourcing practices. I established simple rules for Peak and Valley’s sourcing practices (read more here), and we’ve been at it ever since. 

With Peak and Valley, I’m hoping to build a better herbal trade; one with transparent sourcing, unquestionably high-quality ingredients, and science-backed knowledge. When I think about my personal identity and what I value, these three brand pillars align closely with my own personal values. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome as a Black female founder? 

When most entrepreneurs start a company, they do so with an initial pool of capital. Funding either from their own personal resources or from raising money from friends and family (a “friends and family round”). Most Black female entrepreneurs do not have access to that sort of funding. Even regardless of gender, Black-owned businesses broadly score less than one percent of venture capital funding. 

I’ve been able to overcome these challenges by receiving grants and working capital loans. With these financial resources, Peak and Valley was able to unlock significant growth by infusing capital into the business early on. 

What is your definition of success? 

To me, success is living in alignment with your purpose. I think that when we assign success a monetary value or career goal, we oversimplify what it means to be successful on all levels. For example, you can have a traditionally “successful” career, but if you value your family and haven’t had time to interact with them because you’ve been focusing on your career, are you really successful? Sitting down and recalibrating what’s really important to us, then pursuing each of those pillars, is what success means to me. 

Why does representation matter in the wellness industry? 

One big problem with the wellness industry is that it exceedingly caters to Caucasian women with a disposable income. As a WOC in the wellness space, it is frustrating that minorities aren’t being represented in an industry that is supposed to be about self-care and mindfulness. 

As a pre-teen, I remember going to a yoga class with my aunt. She had just done her big chop, and had a mini fro amongst a sea of blond ponytails—but my aunt had no hesitation. It didn’t matter that we were the only women of color in the room. She belonged there and had the courage to take care of herself in that way. She is a big reason why I have the courage to be in white spaces like the wellness industry, and why I want to be seen as a founder of this company; to show others like me that, yes, wellness is for you, too.

One important step towards diversification is for people of color in the wellness space to be visible. Another step towards diversification is really respecting the self-care practices and herbal medicines from the East that we are incorporating into Western wellness. This starts with sourcing mindfully, ethically, and sustainably. Period. When we are talking about wellness, it is especially important to provide products that are produced and handled in a way that supports mental and physical well-being, as well as supports the future of our Earth. When we support the people who produce our ingredients, we are helping them become more visible within this space.

Samia Gore, founder of Body Complete Rx

What led you to create a wellness brand—and how does the mission of the brand connect to your personal identity? 

My own journey of losing nearly 100 pounds and desiring to help others do the same led me to create Body Complete Rx. I wanted to create plant-based alternatives for weight management and subsequently founded a line of plant-based supplements to support our customers’ wellness journeys at each step.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome as a Black female founder?

Being underfunded. Black women, unfortunately, even with proven success, often have to work harder to grow our companies with minimal financial support or proper mentorship.

Who or what is your daily inspiration?

My greatest inspiration is knowing that I can change a life. My step-father passed of diabetes when I was a teen and my grandparents all passed due to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and hypertension. Their lives inspire me to continue down the path of helping others avoid repeating the cycles I saw as a child.

What is your definition of success?

To me, professional success is positively changing lives and helping people to live longer. When customers report back to us about their success with our supplements and about how using our supplements helped them change their lifestyle—and life—that is success to me. This lets me know that we have done our job as a company.

Why does representation matter in the wellness industry?

Our supplements are made for everyone, with people of color in mind; that’s the difference. For instance, we created our plant protein, Nourish, with not only pea protein but sweet potatoes and beetroot, because these extra ingredients have benefits for blood sugar and cardiovascular health, which are concerns that people of color face at extraordinary rates. It’s important that the people in a position to advocate for your health actually understand your needs.

Explore more Black-led wellness brands at The Vitamin Shoppe. 

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