Dr. Anne Beal of AbsoluteJOI Skincare: “Another person advised me to always look at the data”

Another person advised me to always look at the data. Our customers tell us everyday what they like and what they don’t like. When I ask them directly they respond. But even when they don’t tell me, I can see from the data what is working. Take your emotions out of it. Take your ego […]

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Another person advised me to always look at the data. Our customers tell us everyday what they like and what they don’t like. When I ask them directly they respond. But even when they don’t tell me, I can see from the data what is working. Take your emotions out of it. Take your ego out of it and let the data from your customers tell you where to go.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Anne Beal.

Dr. Anne Beal, M.D., M.P.H., is a powerful black female physician, skincare expert and CEO + founder of AbsoluteJOI Skincare. Dr. Anne noticed there were no skincare lines suited for her daughter’s melanin-rich skin. With that she launched AbsoluteJOI, a full line of skincare products that are 100% are clean (with no parabens, perfumes or dyes), simple (created to save time and eliminate complicated routines for women of color), effective, and made to address hyper pigmentation (without the use of bleach).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to the launch of AbsoluteJOI?

I am a physician and had the opportunity to live with and work in Paris and, as you can imagine, I was excited to experience everything there, including all the wonderful skincare and beauty products they have available. However, I discovered that my skin was NOT happy, very irritated, and not responding well to the products available in that European Beauty Capital. My daughters were also having problems with their skin due to their sensitivities, so I was very motivated to find a solution for us.

Using my medical knowledge, I decided to make basic products that would work for my skin. When I visited a store near the Sorbonne that offers ingredients for DIY skincare, I was struck to see the place was filled with Black and Brown women — just like me — all crammed into this tiny store in the middle of Paris. I realized they were also making their own skin care products at home, and — like me — it was because the products available to them in Paris were not meeting their needs.

That’s when I realized there was a need to create a skincare line for women of color, which was confirmed when I found market research showing that 70% of Black women say the current products don’t work for them. Then I did the research to better understand why current products don’t work, I learned the three key issues for people with melanin-rich skin are:

(1) differences in anti-aging needs,

(2) high rates of skin sensitivity among women of color and

(3) increased exposure to questionable ingredients used in personal care products.

These three unmet needs provided the roadmap to develop AbsoluteJOI, an inclusive clean beauty brand that offers women of color clean, effective and easy to use skincare products designed for melanin-rich skin.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

One of the things that bothers me about the skincare industry is we as women are encouraged to buy more and more products. Also, there is so much misleading information available that it is hard for most consumers to decide what to try and how to create a skincare regimen that works for them. I feel it is important to educate our consumers to understand what their skin does — and doesn’t — need. Instead of encouraging our customers to use more, I want to see them use less-use fewer products. But I want them to focus on the ingredients and formulations that work best for their skin and keep their skincare regimens simple and easy to use. Most of us have full lives, with works, family, friends, etc. Who has time for a 10 or 15 step skincare process? I know I don’t!

That’s why we focus on the basics of skincare and educate our customers on how to manage their skincare needs. I find that people who think their skin is “dry” or “oily” improve significantly when they simply focus on skin health. Our motto is we believe in skincare based on science, not hype. And with a good understanding of the science, you can pare down your routine to critical, yet really effective steps for skin health. It may seem counter-intuitive for us as a skincare company to promote using fewer products, but I decided I am not in the business of selling products but am in the business of promoting skin health.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first creating AbsoluteJOI? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There is a lot you need to know when building a skincare brand, and I have had a steep learning curve. As a physician, the only thing I know is the science, but you need to know so much more.

My manufacturer is in Europe and when the first shipment was ready to be imported, I started to create an extensive dossier of the products, their ingredients, the research that showed their effectiveness etc. My lawyer asked me what I was doing, and I said I assumed there was going to be an extensive review of my products. She told me, there absolutely is not and it is “frighteningly” easy to import products for sale in the US. That was a huge wakeup call for me as a brand owner, and as a consumer. Actually, this is not so funny, but it was a huge wake up call.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Not a direct mentor, but I have studied how Coco Chanel built her company. Not a lot of people know that her iconic brand started as a hat shop in a seaside resort area in Brittany, France. Studying where she started and where she took the company, there are two lessons I have taken: (1) many of our brands are selling a lifestyle or a promise of what life can be. For her it was the promise of a luxurious life. For AbsoluteJOI, it is the promise of smart indulgences and having a sense of calm and control as you go through life. (2) Once you understand you are selling a promise, you can invite people to share that promise at any price point. Chanel was luxury, but she created perfumes so women who could not afford her 2,000 dollars suits, could still enjoy a 100 dollars perfume and be part of the brand. I love the idea of affordable luxury and offering everyday experiences that are centered on selfcare and feeling indulged at an affordable price point.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

In the case of AbsoluteJOI, our target customers are women over 35 with melanin-rich skin. There are really no brands that target that market or support best antiaging practices for women of color. Unfortunately, because there is such an unmet need in the market, our mere existence is disruptive. I am ok with that. I am a woman of color over 35 (way over!) and so are my friends. If bringing them a product that works for them, appreciates them and caters to them is disruptive, then I am happy to play that role.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

One entrepreneur said that in the beginning everything seems small. But she said one day your company will be large and you will be asked to write its history. She advised me to take pictures to be able to share our story.

You should always go where your customers are. I was complaining that it looked like there were a lot of people on a specific social media platform that I don’t like to use, and I didn’t want to go there. She responded “these are all tools. I don’t enjoy going onto Quickbooks but I need to do it for my business. Think of that platform as a tool for your business and learn it!”

Another person advised me to always look at the data. Our customers tell us everyday what they like and what they don’t like. When I ask them directly they respond. But even when they don’t tell me, I can see from the data what is working. Take your emotions out of it. Take your ego out of it and let the data from your customers tell you where to go.

How is AbsoluteJOI going to shake things up next?

Our customers always tell us what they want next! We have some new products in development for launch later this year and are working to get into stores. We are looking forward to being able to get back to one-on-one engagements with our customers when things open up again.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

No one believes us. No one believes the problems we describe. No one believes we can solve those problems. Where is the female Elon Musk? I know she exists, but no one believed a woman engineer someplace who had that same vision.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I read all the time. Right now, I am reading Jamie Schmidt’s book Supermaker because she built a product brand from nothing and has an inspiring story. I am also reading Isabel Wilkerson’s Book Caste. Absolutely amazing! I am making all my daughters read it too and recommended it to my book club.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think there are profound inequities baked into our society. If you are born a specific gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or some other superficial identifier, it has a profound effect on your life. I would love to have a society that is genuinely a meritocracy where an individual’s talents and aptitude could be honed and used for the benefit of others. I think inequities have a profound impact on lost potential to society. I would love to see that change.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There is an Africa proverb “If you want to go fast, travel alone. If you want to go far, travel with others”. I have an amazing network of friends and associates and call on them all the time. People are incredibly generous with their time and energy. Whatever you are trying to do, ask for help. People will gladly give it to you.

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