Medford-born sisters launch all-natural skin care products line
What began three years ago as the blog Brown & Coconut has since morphed into a natural skin care company with the same name. Created by sisters Letisha and Zeena Brown, the 100 percent plant-based, non-GMO, cruelty-free and unisex skin care line, Brown & Coconut, was officially launched after three years of research and development in May of 2016 at the Mall Street Market at the Natick Mall. Mall Street Market is an indoor market featuring artisans and foodies from the New England area.
The blog was their first step in presenting themselves to the world, both Letisha and Zeena told the Banner in a recent sit-down. The blog focused on natural living and wellness and included several topics, from cooking healthy and homemade skin care to tips on nail care and healthy living at home. The sisters always have been interested in a holistic lifestyle. Part of that stems from parents who were advocates of healthy living and organic eating, and part of it is from their own struggles with skin issues growing up in Medford, Mass.
Letisha and Zeena are the second and fourth sisters of four girls, ranging in age from 31 to 25, who coped with skin issues such as acne and eczema. “We wanted to create something that would help our skin but not damage it with chemicals,” stated Zeena. “We’ve always been avid whole food shoppers but we never really found a product we really loved. We kind of figured we’d want to make our own product and put it out there.”
For Letisha, who suffers from eczema and is allergic to all nut products, that meant developing an everyday cleanser. “Finding a cleanser that I liked was always a struggle. It was always either too harsh or didn’t work well enough.” She added, “I wanted to make sure that we crafted a really, really great face wash that worked for all skin types whether your skin is dry, oily, or acne prone … or sensitive, and we did that successfully.”
The right touch
The five-product skin care line consists of both facial and body care products: an everyday face wash, hibiscus cleansing grains, hydrating body butter, hydrating face oil and a kale mask. The ingredients used in their products range from nourishing babassu and meadowfoam seed oils found in their body butter to organic argan and rosehip oil used in their face oil. The process in creating the line was extensive and took three years of research and development, trial and error, testing and retesting to find just the right ingredients and stability. According to their website, the sisters’ mission is to “create products with unique ingredients that work with your skin to heal, balance and nourish.”
The two 20-something sisters are 50-50 partners in the LLC. They came up with the concept of the packaging together — the handwritten fonts and the contemporary look and design. “It’s something simple, natural, and clean — what Brown & Coconut stands for,” the sisters said. They also split the product development based on what interests them, in addition to being active on their social media platforms. Zeena also is responsible for all of the photography, while Letisha handles the financials and the website.
Both siblings have a retail background “which has helped with Brown & Coconut tremendously,” Letisha notes. “We both have retail department management experience, so we have had exposure to years of merchandising, which has helped us when setting up displays at various pop-up markets we attend. We also have experience with inventory management, customer service, working with various vendors and, just as a whole, understanding how the retail industry functions.”
On the web
For more information on Brown & Coconut, visit www.brownandcoconut.com.
The sisters received a two-year interest-free line of credit and launched the company with $5,000 in capital. Since the launch seven and a half months ago, Brown & Coconut has sold 550 units of product, and has grossed $7,000. From the first quarter to the second quarter, they experienced 73 percent growth in gross sales and 42 percent increase in units sold, Letisha reports. They’re thrilled with how the line has been received thus far, as well as its growth potential.
Markets and fairs have been and continue to be a great venue for attracting customers, generating product awareness and revenue for the company. This past September, they had a booth at the well-known SoWa Open Market in the South End. As for selling their skin care line at these events, Letisha realizes that “the markets are a great way for us to gain new customers, because it’s people who maybe wouldn’t necessarily find us on our website.”
In addition to face-to-face, customers also discover the skin care line via word-of-mouth, social media and their blog. They’ve tried some advertising, but consider it too expensive at this time for a still-growing company. Instead, their focus has been on product development and launch.
Nevertheless, the line is poised to reach a wider audience. They recently completed and signed a contract with two Los Angeles companies that share a similar mission of aiming for an organic and plant-based lifestyle. That will mean, Brown & Coconut products will be carried in six locations. They’d prefer not to mention the names of the companies at this time, since they’re still hammering out the official launch.
For now, the sisters continue to work in their full-time jobs in the nonprofit and child-care sectors, with hopes of one day being able to commit fully to the company. As far as the near future, one of their immediate goals is to come close to or achieve paying off their initial investment. And in 2017, they’re expanding the line to feature several new products, including soap, a face toner and a beard oil for guys.