Bubble baths are extremely relaxing and allow your mind to rest and reset.
As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Samara Walker
Samara Walker is a creative at heart who recognized that the products and services of the beauty industry did not fulfill the needs of people of all skin tones. With her entrepreneurial background and passion for inclusivity and diversity, Samara created Àuda.B, a luxury vegan nail lacquer brand that delivers ultra-rich, glossy colors to your nails with chip-resistant wear and a gel-like pigmented finish.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Not feeling validated or seen within the beauty industry amongst luxury beauty brands has led me to this specific career path. My passion for beauty started at a very young age while watching my mother faithfully paint her nails during her Sunday beauty routine. I was truly inspired to create a brand that reflected women of color from A-Z. Through product curation, branding, and marketing, I knew that I wanted to build an inclusive brand that kept women of color top of mind.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
A few years ago, when I first started the brand, I participated in a tradeshow. At the event, I met a woman who expressed her concerns regarding my price point. She told me that I was narrowing my potential opportunities to pick up retailers. At that moment, I didn’t allow her personal opinions or experience to impact or reflect the vision I had for Auda.B as a luxury vegan beauty brand. Now that Auda.B has been picked up by Nordstrom, I am so grateful that I remained true to myself and the brand and didn’t let the opinions of others alter the original path that I had set out on.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
The tipping point began to happen for us when we started partnering with designers for New York Fashion Week. These partnerships allowed customers to experience the brand in “real time” with behind-the-scenes action by showcasing our products on models. That opportunity allowed us to engage with our audience in a different format than other brands. Customers really started to want to wear our brand in order to recreate the looks and color schemes that they saw on the runway because it made them feel like they were a part of the show. From this, I’ve learned that it’s important to understand your audience and what they expect from your brand. This realization allowed me to tailor our customer experience and branding to be more engaging with real-life content that gets consumers involved.
Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
First, I’ll start off and say that my entire family is a great support system! In particular, my uncle, Gamal Walker (who is also Auda.B’s co-founder), has supported my dreams of becoming a founder and building a brand. When I initially shared the idea of Auda.B, he made sure I had access to any of the resources that he had at his fingertips and expressed to me how important it was to follow my dreams and made sure that I understood that anything was possible. Being an entrepreneur is extremely challenging, so it’s important to have people like him in your corner who truly understand the journey that you are embarking on.
The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?
We are currently working on creating a unique experience for our customers that allows them to connect with our products virtually. We are revolutionizing the way customers experience beauty products by using our technology to align their skin tones with specific products through the use of features such as VR. This reduces fragmentation within the customer experience and allows for improved product alignment across diverse skin tones, which has always been lacking in the beauty industry.
I think that one of the potential drawbacks could be massive beauty brands picking up on the technology. With that being said, as a founder, I always pride myself on being innovative and setting myself apart. The biggest advantage that I have in my position is being authentic and genuine, so that allows me to set Auda.B apart from major mainstream beauty brands. As these companies start to adopt more of the technologies that smaller brands are using, it could become more difficult for the smaller brands to be recognized for their unique efforts.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?
Three things that excite me the most about the beauty- tech industry are having the opportunity to change the narrative of the industry, allowing the multifaceted consumer to experience new shades through the use of technology, and providing unique experiences to consumers.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Three things that concern me about the industry are the ability for diverse founders to successfully enter the space without being viewed as 1) Charity 2) Diversity Initiatives and or 3) 15% Pledge. The most successful companies put diversity first without forcing their hand. Unfortunately, this issue is bigger than implementing 3 reforms, this is a top-down issue that impacts the entire industry and presents barriers to entry for diverse founders to expand across retailers and raise capital along with a slew of other variables.
Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Manicure + Pedicure: Book a manicure and pedicure at your favorite nail salon and bring Auda.B Nail lacquer.
2. Gym: Book a SoulCycle class! SoulCycle is a great cycling studio that I personally love — it allows me to blow off steam and work on my physical beauty. If cycling isn’t for you, choose another type of physical activity that you enjoy and put the time aside for yourself to do it.
3. Bubble Bath: Bubble baths are extremely relaxing and allow your mind to rest and reset.
4. Reading: Stimulating your mind through activities like reading allows you to connect with yourself on a personal level.
5. Therapy: This is highly recommended by many of my friends based on their own personal experiences. Therapy is extremely beneficial for all aspects of your well-being, and may even help increase your overall beauty and self-love.
All of these are personal measures that I use “to feel beautiful” at every touchpoint of my life. For me, feeling beautiful is mental and physical, both external and internal.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I could inspire a movement it would be “Celebrating All Cultures”. Oftentimes people of color are tolerated but never celebrated. If we all learned how to respect everyone’s differences and appreciate all cultures then I think the world would be a much better place.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Without struggle, there is no progress” — Frederick Douglass. The reason that this quote is relevant to my life is because when I was growing up I struggled to fit in. I always knew that I was different, and I wanted to provide a different life for myself. I never let my circumstances define who I was or where I was going. As I look back today, I know that without life’s hardships I wouldn’t have made it this far — and this is just the beginning.
How can our readers follow you online?
Auda.B: @audabbeauty ( IG, Twitter, FB)
Sam Walker: @iamsam_w