Buy Black: Naturals By Gina B
African Americans are powerful consumers, but the point is often raised that we could certainly support more minority entrepreneurs with our purchasing power. To make that mission easier, JET presents #BuyBlack, profiling Black business folk from around the world. Read about this owner’s journey and, if you are in the market for some soothing, sweet-smelling body balms and salts, there are links explaining where Gina Barge sells them at the end. We even offer you the opportunity to win some of this spa-quality product.
Founder Name: Gina Barge
JET: What is your career background?
I have an odd combination of corporate and creative. My professional career has been in management consulting and executive search. Concurrently on the creative side, I’ve been a columnist and contributor to various publications. I also dabble in film/television production.
JET: When did you found your company?
Naturals by Gina B. launched in July 2014.
JET: What specific incident or incidents led you to start your enterprise?
I began working on my products in 2012 when I was having trouble with my hair, and I wanted a natural remedy that could potentially reverse the heat damage done from excessive straightening. I had no intention of creating a business at the time. I’m particular about my product selection, and I was interested in taking a hands-on approach to fortifying my hair with good ingredients.
After trying several blends of essential oils and butters, I later learned that even the best products would never help me. My only recourse would be to cut the damaged portion of my hair. But by then I had grown to appreciate the residual effects that my concoctions had on my skin when I rinsed it from my hair in the shower. My shoulders and arms were softer, and a persistent dry patch had disappeared completely. On a trip to LA, I offered my homemade moisturizer to a girlfriend as we laid by the pool, and she raved about it. She grew up in the beauty industry, and encouraged me to think about selling it. At first I thought she was crazy, but then I got really excited about the prospect of turning it into an actual business. What most people don’t know about me is that I love science and chemistry, so I happily set out to create a skin moisturizer. After a year of sniffing, testing, slathering, and blending, I finally had the right texture. I launched the flagship products, titled Kiss My Ash, before I could lose my nerve.
JET: How did you fund your business? (Savings, family support, loans, Kickstarter, etc.)
Fortunately I’ve been able to self-fund my business with my savings. I’m not at a point where I need investors. Presently, my products are handmade, so labor costs are fairly low.
JET: What differentiates you from your competitors?
That’s a hard question because there are a lot of people who have created great natural products. My points of differentiation are in the combination of being a critical consumer, having a love of chemistry, and being “determined” (although some would call it stubborn). As a discerning consumer, I’ve tried several products that I haven’t liked for various reasons — they were watered down, left a sticky residue, and were full of ingredients that I’d never heard of. I knew what I wanted, but I hadn’t yet found it.
My love of chemistry led me to learn properties of several natural ingredients, understand their functions, and blend them in the most effective way. My determination is what has kept me diligently working on the formulas and taking care to create products that I’m in love with. I’m a tough audience and my own biggest critic, so if I love them, I know that I can convince others to love them too.
JET: Where would you like to see this business go?
My near-term goal is to release all of the products that I’ve been testing. I have another body balm and scrub coming out over the next month, and more to come soon after. I would also be interesting in penetrating more retailers and scaling the business properly. I want to expand my audience and find a way to increase production without sacrificing the integrity of the products. Maybe I’ll go on Shark Tank one day!
JET: How can we find/support your product?
The first retailer to carry Kiss My Ash Body Balm is my own aesthetician — Mireille’s Studio at 49 E. Oak in Chicago, where I live. Products can always be found on www.naturalsbyginab.com.
Social Media Links:
WIN! Naturals by Gina Kiss My Ash Body Scrub and Body Balm Set!
Submissions for this contest are closed. Thank you for your interest and we encourage you to be on the lookout for more giveaways!