Health and wellness is all about looking and feeling your best. But for people of color, that’s not always easy to do. Racial disparities in health care, environmental factors and economic issues can weigh us down. And products made to address our specific needs are often an afterthought. But the folks that make up our TGU Health & Wellness list are influencers and entrepreneurs. They are fearless and forward thinking. And they are creating space for people of color in industries that don’t always embrace us.
Occupation: Photographer, Blogger, Health and Wellness Influencer
Why She Glows:
Alissa Ashley first appeared on the scene as a makeup and beauty influencer, showing us tips and tricks for getting everything from show-stopping eyeshadows to the perfect pout. She even took some cosmetic companies to task for their lack of inclusion. A 2018 video she made with fellow beauty influencer Jackie Aina reading Tarte for the lack of dark shades in their Shape Tape foundation collection received over 4 Million views.
These days, she’s not sharing as many makeup tips. But she’s still influencing others. She shares her favorite exercises with her over 1 Million Instagram followers and 2 Million YouTube subscribers. And if that wasn’t enough, Ashley is also a self-taught photographer who specializes in portraits that are both creative and captivating. She shares her photos on her @byalissashley Instagram account, which has over 103,000 followers of its own.
Occupation: Model, Entrepreneur
Model, entrepreneur and influencer Winnie Harlow was diagnosed with the skin condition and autoimmune disorder vitiligo at age 4. But although she was bullied for her differences as a child, she eventually found a way to use them to make a statement. And today, the Jamaican-Canadian beauty is one of the most recognized faces in fashion and beauty. The America’s Next Top Model alum has appeared in campaigns for brands like PUMA and Diesel. And she was recognized as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2021 for being an advocate for diversity in the fashion industry. Harlow is also the founder of Cay Skin, a line of all-natural sun care products designed to protect all skin tones.
Occupation: Celebrity makeup artist
With a celebrity client list that included the likes of Fergie and Regina King, AJ Crimson was one of the hottest celebrity makeup artists in the game. But he was also an entrepreneur who sought to bring more inclusiveness into the cosmetics industry. After working on various film and tv sets, he launched AJ Crimson Beauty in 2012, which he said was inspired by singer Estelle. “I was traveling with Estelle, we didn’t have a great contour color for her,” he said in an interview with Allure. “I believe Estelle inspired the movement of what AJ Crimson would be and what the brand is becoming. There are a lot of brands that I’ve used for years that I love, but everybody’s missing a shade — that deepest color.”
On March 30, Crimson’s family released a statement that the makeup artist had passed away. No cause of death was given. In an Instagram tribute following the news of his death, Christina Milian wrote, “You made your own lane ... You did it with love and intention. Most especially to show the true beauty of minority women everywhere.”
Occupation Founder/CEO, The Honey Pot
Why She Glows:
After suffering from bacterial vaginosis, Bea Dixon says her ancestors appeared to her in a dream with the ingredients to heal her suffering. The result was The Honey Pot, a line of plant-based feminine care products that are hypoallergenic and cruelty-free. Her products include feminine wipes, pads, tampons and sexual wellness products that are safe and effective.
The Honey Pot products can be found online as well as in major retailers like Target, Walmart and Bed, Bath & Beyond. And Dixon’s success has earned her plenty of recognition, including being named one of Entrepreneur‘s top 100 groundbreaking women entrepreneurs of 2019. The company also donates 2 percent of its sales to causes and organizations that support women around the world.
Occupation: Founder/CEO, MyHappyFlo
Why She Glows:
There’s a reason why former celebrity gossip girl Necole Kane calls herself the queen of career pivots. After hitting rock bottom in 2007, she built her wildly successful gossip blog, NecoleBitchie.com from scratch while living with family. But in 2015, she decided to walk away to launch a women’s lifestyle platform xoNecole.com, which features advice on everything from self-care to relationships and careers. And with over 700,000 Instagram followers, she’s got a lot of people listening to what she has to say.
But Kane’s latest career pivot is one that she’s most proud of. My Happy Flo is a daily supplement that balances women’s hormones and allows them to experience shorter, lighter periods with less clotting and little to no cramping. “I love when our customers who tell me they have anemia go back to the doctor three or six months later, and their labs show they’re good across the board on the vitamins. That’s the joy of running this brand for me, knowing that healing it helps Black women with,” Kane told The Root in an April 2022 interview
Occupation: Founder, Black Girl Sunscreen
Why She Glows:
Shontay Lundy didn’t know a thing about making sunscreen when she started her business. But she took her business education, corporate experience and drive to launch a brand specifically designed to fill the void of products that black women’s skin from the sun.
In 2016 she launched Black Girl Sunscreen, an SPF 30 lotion made especially for women of color. And today, her products are lining the shelves of Target, Ulta and other major retail stores around the country. In a March 2022 interview with The Root, Lundy said, “I’m a certified risk-taker. It was always about stepping out of my comfort zone and realizing what I wanted to accomplish.”
Amanda Johnson/KJ Miller
Occupation: Founders, Mented Cosmetics
Why They Glow:
Friends Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller were frustrated with trying to find the perfect nude lipstick for their skin tone. But rather than complain or give up, the Harvard Business School grads decided to make one of their own. Their brand, Mented Cosmetics, is on a mission to make sure every woman of every hue feels like they can find a shade that suits them. All of their lipsticks are vegan, paraben-free, non-toxic and cruelty-free. Although they launched the business with their own money, they’ve since been able to secure investments from venture capitalists and land their products in Target and Ulta stores around the country. They’ve also expanded their line from nude lipsticks to include eyeshadow palettes and blushes in neutral shades that are perfect for everyday wear.
Occupation: Founder, OMNoire
Why She Glows:
Christina Rice decided to pursue a yoga teacher certification as a way to unwind from her busy PR career in New York City. But she was disappointed to be only one of a few people of color in her class. So in 2017, she decided to launch OMNoire as an Instagram page to provide a platform for yoga and meditation instructors of color. Eventually, the business expanded and evolved to include luxury retreat experiences around the world. And because she’s a boss when it comes to business, Rice even created a virtual retreat experience for those who aren’t able to travel.
Occupation: Founder/President/CEO. Beauty Bakerie
Why She Glows:
Cashmere Nicole was a teenage mother who put herself through school so she could become a nurse. But while her mother tried to push her towards a long-term career that would allow her to take care of her daughter, Cashmere Nicole had dreams of starting a business of her own. So when she wasn’t working as a nurse, she enlisted the help of a chemist to develop the products for her cosmetics business, Beauty Bakerie.
But in 2012, one year after launching her business, Cashmere Nicole was facing a devastating breast cancer diagnosis. Although she went through a double mastectomy, Nicole didn’t give up on her dream, and today Beauty Bakerie is valued at $40 Million. You can find her products in retail locations across the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
Occupation: Celebrity Makeup Artist
Why She Glows:
Angela Bassett, Ava Duvernay and Garcelle Beauvais are just a few of the celebs Camara Aunique has helped get red carpet ready. The Brooklyn native made a name for herself as an expert in the lash game.
In 2019, Aunique launched Camara Aunique Beauty, her faith-based line of lashes, tools and accessories. Her handmade lashes are made with vegan ingredients, and each one is named after iconic women from the Bible, like Mary, Ruth and Deborah. Aunique is also an author. Her book, Love Letters to My Daughter, is a 52-week devotional to help users strengthen their connection with God.