Posted by Kay
I was about to interview this extraordinarily inspirational entrepreneur myself when I thought, how about getting the next generation of mixed heritage to ask the questions! We’re very keen on building a community here at ThandieKay and we hope you enjoy Tara and Jodie‘s thoroughly engaging conversation on the inclusiveness of beauty, family, the future of retailing and much more.
Tara Okeke is a 16 year-old student studying Art, English Literature, Philosophy & French at A-Level at City Of London School For Girls. She hopes to study architecture at university.
Jodie Patterson is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Doobop, the first beauty entail site to edit specifically for brown women. She also owns the all-natural beauty line, Georgia.
Tara: You launched your beauty e-tailing site DooBop last November, what was the inspiration behind the business model and what were the central aims of the company?
Jodie: We launched DooBop with a particular woman in mind. In fact, she was similar to me, with brown skin, textured hair, and a deep love of beauty – both product and rituals. I know this woman well: she’s my sister, my aunt, my girlfriends. We’ve all had such a difficult time shopping for our product over the years and no one seems to be an expert when it comes to brown skin and textured hair. As consumers, we’ve resorted to by-any-means-possible methods to get what we need, but it hasn’t been easy and we’ve made do with mediocre product. DooBop is about “Beauty Without Struggle”. We’re here to simplify the process of being beautiful and to bring options from all around the world to a woman who has always been told she should be shopping in the “ethnic aisle”. We’re about disrupting the “ethnic aisle” mentality and allowing women to shop by need. Beauty isn’t ethnic. It’s global.
Tara: DooBop exudes assurance in both ethos and intent-where does this conviction and confidence stem from on a personal level for you?
Jodie: I’m a mom of five, so I’m used to disappointment, failure, and drama – it’s all part of life. But those things that often stop people in their tracks, those “negatives”, aren’t deterrents for me. I’m no more confident than others – I’m just relentless. If I want it, I keep on at it.
Tara: DooBop responds inclusively to the beauty industry’s rather cookie-cutter approach and underrepresentation of WOC by not being strictly for WOC. How important was it for you to ensure you had WOC at the heart of the company, whilst also maintaining a sense of cohesion?
Jodie: Beauty is like music and art – it’s supposed to be shared cross-culturally and cross-ethnically. So regardless of where a trend or product originates, women all over the world can enjoy and benefit from that very same product.
Essentially we all have the same needs with slight uniquenesses of course, but essentially the same. Dry skin, fine lines, blemishes, breakouts – these things are universal.
Our goal at DooBop is to curate amazing product. Period. So really anyone can jump on our site and love everything. But, personally, I have a soft spot for brown women because the industry has been so neglectful of us. I’m here to make it easier for her.
We’ve selected brands from France, Italy, Israel, the US, Africa and pulled pieces from
each line that stood out for me and my team. And we only focused on prestige and niche brands. These are really top of the line – innovative, healthy, smart brands. What woman wouldn’t appreciate that!?!
Tara: You have talked a lot about getting “out of the ethnic aisle” – which is sometimes misconstrued as negating ‘ethnicity’ in some way. What do you think are the most effective ways of entering the mainstream marketplace?
Jodie: When I talk about the “ethnic aisle” I’m not referring to any feelings I have about myself or other brown people. I’m referring to a subcategory of beauty that’s been invented in America that encourages Black women to shop only in one particular area within beauty stores.
I use a French brand Leonore Greyl, a general market brand Rahua, a ‘sure-thing brand’ Shea Moisture and my very own niche brand Georgia by Jodie Patterson. I definitely can’t find all that in the ethnic aisle! The myth that hair and skin are ethnic is outdated and untrue.
Tara: What would you say makes a woman beautiful internally, and how does DooBop go about offering bespoke services that help women achieve the complete beauty experience they crave?
Jodie: Beauty is a feeling – so there are endless ways to look and feel beautiful. True beauty comes from a place of true emotion – only then will it radiate. Anything else is simply disguise. DooBop has amazing product and tips. We encourage women to start internally, with a mood first, and then express that feeling with make up and product.
Tara: Growing up, who did you find beautiful and why?
Jodie: Any woman with an attitude: I think women like Adele, Nina Simone, Cate Blanchet, Eva Mendez, Lupita Nyong’O – they all radiate. They’ve really nailed it and their ‘reverb’ is so strong that we all feel more beautiful when we look at them.
Tara: Family seem to be a major inspiration for you in business, could you tell us a little about your first brand, named after your eldest daughter, ‘Georgia by Jodie Patterson’ and what family means to you?
Jodie: Georgia is a niche beauty line for skin and hair that I created nine years ago. I’m a busy mom of five, and I often found myself stranded in “the wrong bathroom with the wrong product”. On some nights I’d finally wrangle all the kids into the tub, look around, and discover all that was handy was PapaBear’s old school anti-dandruff shampoo. Or, when I finally managed some “alone-time” in the bathroom for myself, all I could find was diaper cream. I see beauty as simple and what we use in the bathroom should be simple too. But without the right product, life is way too complicated. So I created a line that works well with a busy woman who is juggling lots of things in her life – family, work, travel, ambition. My product is natural so the entire family can use it; plus, items can be used in multiple ways. With each product, you experience natural, healing and awakening beauty. It’s like food for your skin.
Tara: Why did you choose to make a philanthropic pursuit a key part of your business model, and what attracted you more specifically, to Community of Unity?
Jodie: Women connect and are inspired on a deep level – it’s how we’re hard wired. Brands need to be mindful of that and do their best to speak to women on a deep level. We live in the same world as our customers. They’re complex and we totally get that. So we go deep with them. Community of Unity is an organization that I’ve known for years and have watched grow. It supports young teens and helps guide them to make smart life-choices. For every sale we make, we give $1 to the organization. It’s a no-brainer.
Tara: There appears to be three principle elements at the crux of DooBop: curation, creation and innovation.
What are the challenges and satisfactions that come with curating and creating beauty products and services for WOC?
Jodie: No real challenges. We simply had to keep reminding ourselves that brown women don’t live in a bubble. They’re part of real life. So we looked at what we ourselves loved first then, asked tons of friends their favorite things and then “travelled the world” in search of the “best”. Brown women have basic skin and hair concerns (as well as some unique needs). For hair we were often looking for hydration, gentle approaches, great oils and control. For skin we sought help with evening out tones, correcting dark spots and hyper pigmentation. We found great solutions!
Tara: In terms of innovation-what changes have you witnessed within the beauty industry as both a consumer and creator since your youth? And what are your plans for the evolution of DooBop and GeorgiaNY, and predictions for the beauty industry as a whole, over the next few years?
Jodie: Hopefully, DooBop will be the first of many beauty sites to focus on brown women and to curate product based on need, not ethnicity. That concept alone is the most relevant change that’s emerged in our industry.
Tara: Finally, what steps do you think women of all shapes and shades should take to make our voices heard, and to move forward and away from the idea of homogenised beauty?
Jodie is currently building a lifestyle brand around the philosophy: Beauty Without Struggle and is dedicated to helping women find their own unique beauty. She’s a hands-on mother-of-five and an “award-winning wife”, living in Brooklyn, NY.
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