Aurum79 is a Black, woman-owned marketplace that is currently the home for 20 brands and 99 products.
All of the beauty and wellness brands that they’re partnered with are owned and operated by Black and brown people.
Their website features wellness products, makeup, skincare, nail care, hair care, and even candles, with a range of $5-75 per product.
Aurum79’s founders, Nathalie Day, Bridget Harris and Camille Walker, all have backgrounds in beauty and marketing. They came together when Harris was searching for a minority-owned sunscreen for a trip in 2018, but couldn’t find it in stores.
The women conducted a proprietary survey of women across the United States with several minority-owned brands to see if the participants had ever heard of them. The overwhelming result was that they hadn’t.
“Even now, there are other places and brands where you can find Black-owned brands,” Walker said. “There are still a lot of people who don’t have that awareness… There’s a huge opportunity to share some of these artisanal brands that are Black and brown owned.”
The goal for Aurum79 is to bridge the gap between minority-owned products and consumers.
“It’s really a place where you can discover the dopest, most effective beauty and wellness products made by people of color,” Harris said.
After coming up with the idea for an online marketplace for Black and brown-owned brands in 2018, the founders of Aurum79 then began creating a business plan in 2019.
“We knew that at the top of 2020, we wanted to start reaching out [to the different brands],” Harris said. “We wanted to establish some kind of presence, so we did our long-form business plan for the first half of 2019 and that summer is when we launched on Instagram.”
In November 2020, Aurum79 officially launched. While they were excited about starting their business, the founders were also nervous about becoming a hub for Black and brown-owned businesses.
“2020 was great because it gave us that push to keep going and do this, but it was a little bit scary because there was so much in the aftermath of COVID-19,” Harris said.
As they approach the website’s one-year mark, Harris and Walker have plenty of visions for the future. They’ve grown from working with just eight brands to 20, and they’re less focused on the acquisition of more brands and products.
“I think that a lot of the mass retailers [are] becoming more expansive towards inclusion,” said Harris. “Our virtual shelf space is dedicated to Black and brown-owned beauty products. That’s what we really want to be known for.”
“I think this year we’re just trying to work on visibility and getting our contacts together,” Walker said. “We have a good mix of products across all of the different categories. I think now it’s about getting more people to learn about our products, more about what we do, educating them on the different products and ingredients. It’s just about keeping that momentum going.”
One major goal that Harris and Walker plan on achieving is changing the narrative for products that target women over the age of 35. Harris feels as though most brands target the younger generations, but more focus should be placed on the older generations.
“We really want to continue to focus on skincare and focus on the 35 plus [age group] and change the narrative around anti-aging,” Harris said. “I’m guilty of it too. I’m always looking for an anti-aging product. And what is that? Because if you’re not aging, then you’re dead, and that’s not cute. So, it’s more pro-aging. I want to age like a boss; I want to look good.”
Walker doesn’t want women who are 35-years-old and older to feel left out of the beauty industry. She believes they should be able to stay on-trend in their way. Walker also hopes to conquer an obstacle that the company is currently facing.
“From my point of view, my personal goal for the brand is to be a one-stop shop for Black and brown-owned beauty,” Walker said. “And [a] one-stop shop for everybody. Not just Black people, [but] Latina, Asian- really for everyone. I think one of the major hurdles we’re trying to get over … is to let people know who are not melanated that they can use these products. It works for them. The colors will work on their skin tone too.”
Harris agrees that while Black and brown consumers are prioritized, other races and ethnicities are more than welcome to shop with Aurum79.
“[We want to be] the gold standard of Black and brown beauty,” Harris said. “With the exception of maybe hair, just because it’s Black-owned doesn’t mean it’s only for Black people.”