My Journey to Wakanda
It is Black History Month and as the child of a history major this was always a very big deal in my household. My parents ensured we knew the names and stories of every great Black historical figure, so we had pride and joy in who we were. We have greats like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Adam C Powell Jr, and Rosa Parks from the Civil Rights era. We have moguls like John H. Johnson, Oprah, and Sheila Johnson in the world of business. We have artists like Queen Beyonce, James Baldwin, and Jean-Michel Basquiat in the world of creativity. These legends have and continue to move Black culture and cultures around the globe forward.
History is constantly being made and there are some 2017 highlights that call for reflection. Rihanna’s launch of Fenty in the fall helped bring the conversation of beauty inclusivity to the forefront. The NAACP Image Awards gave out its first ever YouTube Creator of the Year Award for 2017 to Jackie Aina, who so richly deserved it since she’s given a voice to Black women for years. Representative Maxine Waters taught us all how to ‘reclaim our time’. The strength, dignity, and grace of former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama leaving the White House and starting the Obama Foundation. And we’d like to think that Mented was a part of that history making of 2017 as well.
We launched Mented on MLK Day 2017 because we too had a dream that our brand would be meaningful to black and brown people everywhere. My co-founder and I are the 15th and 16th Black women to raise $1 million in venture capital according to Forbes. A Vogue article acknowledged that like Fenty, we are a force in the movement of beauty diversity. The great Jackie Aina did a review our lipstick collection and loved it! We’ve been on tv, in magazines, in newspapers, and doing pop-up shops across the country sharing our love of Mented! We talk about the amazing diverse community that we’re building and that’s helping us build our brand. In that way, we’ve all made history.
This hasn’t been easy. We’ve all had to transition to be the leaders of our lives at some point. There was a moment where we all had to take the reigns and go after what we wanted. For me that was the launch of Mented. An entrepreneurial endeavor is never easy, but it’s been one of the most rewarding pursuits of my life. For me the future is Wakanda. A place that feels limitless, community minded, and forward thinking. The Black Panther movie inspired me to dream bigger and to always want to bring my people with me. I hope Mented continues to have a impact on Black culture and beauty inclusivity. I hope we continue to be influenced and encouraged by the amazing people of color around us. I hope that when we look back in 20 years, Mented will have meant something to us all and that we take pride in what we've built.