Dorion Renaud made a name for himself in reality TV, but the College Hill alum and model has come a long way from struggling with acne as a teen. Now, he’s an award-winning CEO of a popular skincare line.
It was while working in the entertainment industry, trying to manage that acne, that the Beaumont native realized he couldn’t find good skincare products for melanated people. So in 2018, he founded Buttah Ski, a company that is now estimated to make $10 million in revenue this year, according to Forbes.
Renaud is proud of the fiscal success he has experienced, but Buttah Skin is more than just another stream of income. His personal connection to the brand pushes him to continue to create products by and for Black people, giving customers confidence in their skin.
He talked with the Defender about his mission.
Defender: How did you even get introduced to skincare?
Dorian Renaud: In Beaumont, my dad had a barbershop and a shoe shop. So I grew up around self-care and really seeing a lot of men taking care of themselves and not being ashamed of it. My dad is almost 60 years old and in his era, it seemed like the brothers were really proud of going to the shoe shop and getting their shoes shined and going to the barbershop and getting their haircut. As I started matriculating in my career, I started modeling at about 18, doing television things and stuff like that. I started dealing with some real serious skincare issues in high school and then led into my young adult life. And I could not figure out what was going on. I didn’t know if it was ingrown hairs or acne. And then I realized there were a lot of the issues that Black people face, which is hyperpigmentation and, you know, dark spots and unevenness on our skin and just really wasn’t even skin. I didn’t think that there was really a solution for me after trying so many different products. I ended up starting a skincare line for melanated people.
Defender: It took you six months to start Buttah. How did you know what products to create?
Renaud: I kind of just started creating some ideas. And Buttah was the first name that came to me. I was just hoping to sell a few boxes or get in a few people’s hands because so many people had been asking me what I did to get my skin right. And it was a very simple routine – shea butter off the streets of New York and the Gentle Cleanser and the Vitamin C serum, which was something that I noticed a lot of my peers and Black people weren’t really using. So I started with what my routine was. And then I just kept expanding and expanding because the customer’s were so amazing and here we are.
Defender: What do you think it is that makes your product so different?
Renaud: We use ingredients that are targeted to nourish our skin. Sometimes, when you go into the department stores and they have all of these beautiful lines out and sometimes you spend a lot of money on it and you get home and it’s not really for your skin type. What separates Buttah is that every kit is customizable. So just because you are a black or a brown person doesn’t mean that each skincare line is for you. So you can customize our kit by the moisturizer. We also combine entertainment with skincare and showing different shades and tones, the storytelling throughout.
Defender: It must be challenging to be a Black man in the beauty industry?
Renaud: Definitely! When you think about beauty, oftentimes you don’t really think about a Black man. And whether that is trying to stand up for people that look like you or go in rooms, oftentimes when you’re the only person that looks like you, stand true to yourself. Another challenge is learning how to go from direct to consumer. And I think this is important ’cause a lot of people have online businesses going from direct to consumer to retail, that was such a different transition, my company going from just selling online to now being global in retail stores. But, you know, being black in beauty is a tough job. But what I’m doing and what other people are doing is opening doors for more people to continue to get into beauty.
Defender: What is your advice to an entrepreneur who has an idea like you did and they’re just kind of hanging on to theirs?
Renaud: Do your research in whatever it is that you want to do, business research is so important, you know, to learn, especially as a black entrepreneur, to learn everything that’s going on within your company, even if it’s not successful yet, to know how to get to that next level. Don’t just do it as a hobby and love it because it’s something you’re good at. Know the business of it, the ins and outs, the fronts and the back. And listen to the audience that you’re serving, not necessarily your friends, your cousins, your peers. Listen to those people that are looking for what you are bringing to the world.