|LaVonndra Johnson puts personal skin care in the cosmetics game|
|Botanicals carves space for customers of color|
|Published Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:57 pm|
|ELLE JOHNSON CO.|
|LaVonndra Johnson is founder of Elle Johnson Co., a Charlotte-based botanical skin care product line.|
LaVonndra Johnson used to deal with her oily skin quietly.
After watching countless tutorials and being overwhelmed by all the information from multiple sources, Johnson set on a path to ensure that more women of color had an effective and simpler option for skin care. It led to the creation of Elle Johnson Co., a Charlotte-based botanical product line, in 2017.
“It had always been something that I had dealt with on a personal and intimate level and I decided that I really wanted to tackle it head on and educate others who possibly had skin care issues and didn’t quite know how to treat them,” Johnson said.
Along with creating viable chemical-free options, Johnson, a Charlotte native and Garinger High School graduate, also wanted to make sure her brand was set apart from others directed at women of color. The result was marketing skin care as a high-end product through a digital store.
“Going in, I initially knew that I wanted to create a line that had a luxury feel for women of color because I felt like that was lacking in the industry,” said Johnson. “A lot of the skin care and beauty brands that I saw that specifically targeted women of color, they were not what I would consider luxury brands. They had these very rustic, very earthy type looks and I didn’t want that. I wanted something that looked like it could sit in a department store.”
Johnson’s goal of a luxury look and feel links to her background in branding and passion about cosmetics. Beginning with just five core products, she has made the natural elements of the brand and the education of her customers a forefront.
“So, there’s a cleanser and a moisturizer if you have normal or dry skin and then there’s a different cleanser or moisturizer if you have combination or oily skin and then the one universal product that all skin types use is the toner,” Johnson said. “It tackles the basics of a skin care regimen which I think specifically a lot of women of color may not understand. For instance, we grew up knowing to use a cleanser and a moisturizer, but the toner is what kind of brings it all together, so this is my core five.”
Within that core, there are products like moisturizers specific to different skin types and with natural benefits. The mango facial creme and the jojoba moisturizer are paired with either skin type and have their own natural benefits.
“The great thing about [mango facial creme] is that it has hyaluronic acid in it which is very popular within the skincare industry because it can hold substantially more water than any other element,” Johnson said. “So, this is great for adding moisture and hydration into the skin, whereas the jojoba is going to be for the combination or oily skin types. It helps to calm the skin and it puts the right amount of moisture into the skin. It’s not super greasy, it’s not super heavy, but what you’ll notice of course is that it does help with inflammation. Specifically, those skin types will notice it begins to train or tone the skin down, so it’s not as oily.”
As an entrepreneur for 15 years, Johnson has stayed true to her cause. After releasing two lipstick colors around Christmas, she’s begun rolling out the plans for her cosmetics line, Kopper Beauty.
“I knew that if I launched it under the current brand, that because cosmetics is so strong and everybody’s always after that great makeup look, I felt it would overshadow the skincare if I launched it under the same name,” she said. “So, Kopper Beauty will be a stand-alone brand, exclusive to cosmetics. I’m going to start out with lipsticks, probably some blushers and then kind of upgrade and add on from there, so that will actually launch closer to the fall.”
As her business grows and expands into cosmetics, a lot has changed for Johnson, but she has changed a great deal as well. Elle Johnson has a retail partner in Premier Pharmacy on Monroe Road.
“There’s a vast difference in the business owner that I was last year this time versus the business owner that I am this year,” she said. “It’s completely different, and it’s in a good way. It’s amazing how life circumstances and situations will completely shape or reshape your thought process and that’s kind of where I am, so I think I’m just ready to tackle the world.”
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