There has been a long-standing myth that Black people don’t need sunscreen. Besides not realizing the need for protection against the sun, many people of color don’t like the texture and the look of sunscreen, which often leaves white streaks on the skin. In response, two Nigerian-American businesswomen, Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa, have come up with a sunscreen created just for people of color.
Chidozie was born in Nigeria and Obidoa was born in Washington, DC, and moved to Nigeria shortly after she was born. Both grew up there and even attended the same high school for a brief period. They moved to the United States at different times; Obidoa to attend college and Chidozie for graduate school. They both have MBAs and had spent a combined 20 years in Corporate America before starting Bolden. Chidozie worked in finance while Obidoa worked in management consulting and Biotech. Chidozie lives in Texas and Obidoa in the Los Angeles area.
Besides the moisturizing sunscreen, The Bolden Company also specializes in making beauty products that work well for women of color. Here, he two discuss how their skincare products are shaking up the beauty world.
MadameNoire (ME): How did you come up with the idea for a sunscreen for people of color?
Chinelo Chidozie (CC): Ndidi and I are married to brothers and we go on a lot of family vacations together. On such a trip to Key West we stopped by a pharmacy to pick up some sunscreen since we were spending a lot of time outdoors. We became frustrated because the sunscreens we bought left an unattractive white cast on us. That experience was a catalyst that eventually led us to creating Bolden.
MN: How did you fund the startup?
Ndidi Obidoa (NO): We are currently self-funded, but we’re at the point where we’ve started seeking outside investors.
MN: What were some initial challenges?
CC: The biggest challenge we faced when we first started was in finding product manufacturers who were willing to work with us given that we were a startup and could only place small initial orders. Even getting them to return our calls was a problem. Our persistence paid off and we have been able to find great partners who bought into our vision and were willing to work with us.
MN: How did you two meet and what made you want to go into business together?
NO: We’re married to brothers who are very similar so we spend a lot of time together. We found that we have a lot in common: we’re the same age, we have complementary personalities and have very similar interests and passions.
MN: Did you both always want to be entrepreneurs?
CC: Yes! A lot of my siblings are entrepreneurs, and as is the case with many MBA graduates, our plan was to gain some good experience working in various capacities before starting out on our own. If we had followed this plan, we would have remained in the corporate world because you never feel like you have enough experience to set off on your own. We were fortunate that life and career developments at the time we started Bolden made it possible for us to take the plunge.
MN: Tell us how the products works?
CC: Our primary focus at Bolden is to solve the unique skincare problems that Black women face. With that in mind, we set to tackle the #1 skin care concern for Black women–Hyperpigmentation.
We designed our line specifically to address post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, the type you get after a breakout. Our cleanser works to prevent breakouts in the first place; our Toner tightens pores and gently exfoliates, which is very important for acne prevention; our moisturizer protects from UVA and prevents further hyperpigmentation (dark spots) occurring.
Our goal was to make this sunscreen experience was as user-friendly as possible. So think of it as your three-in one moisturizer–It utilizes a chemical sunscreen to provide SPF protection, it contains a very stable form of Vitamin C which has brightening corrective properties and is a great antioxidant, and finally it is really moisturizing so you can wear it by itself or underneath your makeup.
Our nighttime serum is a glycolic acid serum that provides exfoliation of the skin’s surface cells while you sleep, helping the skin achieve the cell turnover required to eliminate hyper-pigmentation
MN: What was your goal in creating the line of products?
NO: In designing the line we realized that a lot of Black people do not use sunscreen mainly because of the misconception that they do not need it. When they finally learn the importance, there is a lot of frustration experienced trying to find one that works for their skin tone, i.e. one that will not leave a white cast on the skin. You almost have to become a sunscreen expert to know to avoid formulas that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (the physical sunscreens) because of the telltale white cast. For folks who have never used sunscreen (63 percent of Black people based on a survey conducted by the skin cancer foundation), our goal was to make this initial sunscreen experience as user-friendly as possible.
So, think of our SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer as a three-in one moisturizer. It utilizes a chemical sunscreen to provide SPF protection, it contains a very stable form of Vitamin C which has brightening corrective properties and is also a great antioxidant, and finally it is really moisturizing so you can wear it by itself or underneath your makeup.
MN: Many Black people don’t think they need sunscreen, how do you get them to try yours?
CC: By making it as easy and as comfortable to wear as their regular moisturizer.
MN: What are some goals for 2017 and long-term?
CC: Our goals for the rest of 2017 is to successfully launch the four products currently in development. We also are developing a full-body SPF which we hope to launch in spring 2018.