Shontay Lundy, Founder of Black Girl Sunscreen is in the guest chair today. In 2016, Shontay realized she was tired of using sunscreen that left a white residue on her dark skin. So she decided to leverage her MBA and knack for business to develop a melanin-friendly option. Since then, Shontay has emerged as a thought leader and innovator in the beauty industry and her success has been chronicled by Forbes, Business Insider, Teen Vogue, InStyle, and countless other national publications. In just a few years, Black Girl Sunscreen has made its way to Ulta, CVS, Walgreens, Macys.com, NordstromRack.com, FSA.com, Ross, TJ Maxx, and specialty retailers across the globe.
In episode 321, Shontay shares:
- How she grew Black Girl Sunscreen into 10,000 doors and eight retailers
- What it took to prove the concept of sunscreen for dark skin
- How she drives her business on intuition and clever strategizing
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Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:02
You're listening to side hustle Pro, the podcast that teaches you to build and grow your side hustle from passion project to profitable business. And I'm your host Nicaila Matthews Okome. So let's get started
Hey guys, hey welcome welcome back to side hustle Pro. It's Nicaila and today in the guest here, I have Shontay Lundy. Shontay is the CO creator and founder of Black Girl sunscreen. In 2016. When Shontay became tired of using sunscreen that left a white residue, she decided to leverage her MBA and her knack for business to develop a melanin friendly option for women who look like us. While working to build awareness for black girls sunscreen Shontay has continued to feel her passions by traveling the world educating women of color on the importance of wearing sunscreen Shontay has emerged as a thought leader and innovator in the beauty industry, and her success has been chronicled by Forbes, Business Insider Teen Vogue, InStyle, and countless other national publications. In addition, black girls sunscreen is the first black owned sunscreen brand in the black owned sunscreen brand sold in Target suncare section full time. And you can also find black girls on screen at Ulta, CVS, Walgreens macys.com and Nordstrom. Let's get right into it.
Well Shontay Welcome. Welcome to the guest here. I'm so glad to have you here. And I can't wait to chat
Shontay Lundy 1:35
here. Thank you for having me. It's been kind of interesting to get us connected.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:40
Shontay Lundy 1:42
My my crazy schedule and you know, even this morning, yesterday, I had a photo shoot. And my stylus she did like this top knot kind of fishtail. Me. And when I got home, it was like itching like crazy. I'm like, Oh, this got this pony gotta go.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:02
So hard, they look so good. But for me, it's like, it starts to hurt my brain. There's no like, in between. It's just, it's just brain hurt and tight.
Shontay Lundy 2:12
And there's so much product. So it's like itching stuff. yank it off. And I'm like, All right, I'll just wear my natural hair tomorrow. Your
Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:20
natural hair is beautiful.
Shontay Lundy 2:22
Thank you. And I don't wear it often, though, this morning. I'm like, having trouble with it. I had trouble with my hair. And I was like getting frustrated because I'm like, 15 minutes in. Yeah, I'm like, Alright, I have you know, I know what my calendar is. I'm like, I gotta get this together. And finally, I just like left the house. So you know,
Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:42
the curls. I see the curl definition. And you look gorgeous. So let's let's jump right into this now. What an intro right? For those of you who don't know, Shante please help us to learn more about who you are and what you do currently with black girls on screen.
Shontay Lundy 2:59
Yeah, the story has developed over time. You know, I am the oldest of six. Yeah, both my parents were in the military. So I was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, wow, spent some time in Germany, and was raised in upstate New York, and went to school in upstate New York as well. And then, after I graduated, I moved down to South Florida in Miami to pursue my graduate degree. And while I was doing my graduate work, I worked in corporate America for 12 years and transitioned out because I felt like everything that I was doing, just kind of have like, reached his max potential. And transitioning out has probably been one of the best things that I've ever done in my life, because it gave me time to reflect it gave me a break. Because up until that point, my life has been so structured, whether it's, you know, getting up and this may seem very small and kind of like downplayed, but starting kindergarten, right, like you're up, you know, seven o'clock in the morning to be at school, and you're playing, you're learning. But there's a routine and there's a schedule there. And then you do that for 12 years, right up until, you know, 12th grade graduation, and then you do another four years do your undergrad and then I decided to do graduate, and then you start working. So for so much of your life, you're going to someone else's beat. Right? So transition out for me, allow me to think it allowed me to do nothing.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 4:34
I've never heard it phrased like that, like a transition out. Like you were just sure like I'm leaving. I'm coming out of this. Did you know at that point exactly what you're going to do and how you were going to make money. Had you started black girls on screen?
Shontay Lundy 4:49
No, I hadn't. And I transitioned out. I went to work and I didn't know that I was going to transition out. I decided that that day
Nicaila Matthews Okome 4:58
we went out so I'm sorry. Sorry, please share this story I need to know, was this a your decision transition or? decision? Okay.
Shontay Lundy 5:09
Yes, it started off as mine. And then it became kind of mutual. And then it just kind of made sense. And I think that, you know, this is a really hard decision for many people. But, you know, when I think about people and then leaving or even getting terminated, yeah, it's a hard decision. And some people are unhappy at their current roles in current organizations, and they do nothing about it. And they need that motivation. Yeah, they need that, that push. I didn't need the push. It was just like, okay. All right. This is difficult conversation, but I'm gonna do it. And I haven't looked back since. So it was this decision that, you know, after just a conversation, it was just like, huh, I don't, I don't know if I need this. This might be the best thing.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 5:55
Yeah, you're right. Some people never do anything about it. You often hear people complain, we all have the coworkers that complain or maybe, you know, we were the complainers at some point. And then we just go back in day after day. And it's not that you need to all leave or transition out. But what are we doing about making sure we're happy? Like you have the power to choose a different role, a different career path, a different company? So what are you doing to move closer to that, rather than staying where you are?
Shontay Lundy 6:29
And being happy or not reach your full potential? I've found that in every organization, there is someone that is talking stuff. Yep. Right? Why are we at that point? You know, that's, that's my two question.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 6:46
So when did you start black girl sunscreen, at what point?
Shontay Lundy 6:49
The idea came in about 2015? I didn't do anything about until 2016. And then we get to market 2017 takes about eight to 12 months to actually formulate to get through testing and all that good stuff. You know that I the ideation came from a space of okay, are other women of color gonna wear this? Yeah. And I didn't use the words women of color in 2015. Let's just be honest here. Yeah, I use Word. Black women, black girls, right. And over time, our vernacular has transitioned because of being inclusive. This was a time of black girl magic. And honestly, if Black girl magic wasn't a thing, I don't know, black girls such green would be where we are today. Wow. Because there came a sense of empowerment with those words,
Nicaila Matthews Okome 7:38
and it was very clear who it was for.
Shontay Lundy 7:41
In both respects, right. Black Magic, man, let's go black woman, we've been doing this for a long time. And now we should be recognized for our effort for our words, the strength that we adore, for all of these things that we've just kind of been, like, overlooked. Yeah, right. So, you know, with with that just kind of, you know, in the backdrop, I always have ideas, like I have ideas, like right now. But I've always had ideas, but I was trained to think that you do this corporate route, you go into these organizations that have benefits. And that gives you a salary, and you work your way up to whatever position it is that you want. So to be a so called entrepreneur, like, I didn't know what that meant. I was just starting a product that or I wanted a product that didn't have you looking crazy, right? Or, or any uglier than I felt like being a dark skinned woman.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 8:43
Right? It's heavy. Yeah, very.
Shontay Lundy 8:47
And I wanted to be able to go out in the sun and not think twice about it. And that's how black girl sunscreen came about, by thinking about all those things. So let's talk about the complexion thing for a second. You can see me you know, dark chocolate. I love my complexion. Now, right? But coming up, no, didn't love my complexion. And honestly, I didn't want to get darker. And the misconception was sunscreen is that it prevents you from getting darker and it doesn't just prevent you from you know, getting burned. So when my friends would ask me like, Hey, let's go to the beach. My first response is like, well, I need to buy an umbrella. You know, you know, late 20s maybe early 30s like a beach umbrella for 35 bucks 40 bucks is was costly to go to the beach like isn't right like yeah, this was for me, right? Because I got color. Go on to rooftop parties and barbecues. Well, is there going to be an awning? Because I want to get underneath the awning because I don't want to get darker. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I saw Got some sunscreen would be the solution to that. No, that's that that wasn't the case at all. But here we are, you know, six, seven years later. And I'm outside whenever I can. I love I love my complexion, getting colors, like one of my favorite things. I had some. I had some long curly hair, and it was like a blonde, brownish color. And I saw it was like, Okay, we know you like to be in the sun. But certain hair colors are green on certain complexions, I just want you to be my fault. And I'm like, Yeah, I don't care, right? Yeah, I didn't hear me, huh? So So Black Girl century was a combination of she's so many thoughts that I had. And so many just miss I wanted to bus and I wanted women of color to feel good and look good. While being out in the sun. Why can't we wear some protection without just looking crazy. And the fact of it is that Gen market brands, pre 2016 said, well, it doesn't matter what you look like with our products on you, because it's meant to fight UV protect UV rays. So we're gonna give you this and you're going to wear it, take it or leave it
Nicaila Matthews Okome 11:13
right and just just be happy that we you can wear it like be purple and be happy, be blue and be happy. But you said this is not gonna cut it? How easy is it to find a chemist to formulate your idea. You have this idea. Now, did you have a chemistry background? How did you find a chemist? How easy was that?
Shontay Lundy 11:37
No. And it was strategic because I wanted my chemists and manufacturer in the operations to be in South Florida. So I was a strategic in that standpoint, but also very limited. So why why South Florida? Well, South Florida was strategic because it's close to the port Port of Miami. So if you are sourcing or even exporting goods, it limits the cost of freight when you are close to a port. So for example, if I was based in Nebraska, or even Georgia, right, and we have product or product going out, that means it would have to be trucked to the nearest port. And being in Miami, even Fort Lauderdale, we're close to the port, I mean, it's 30 minutes.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:24
So how does being close to a port help you
Shontay Lundy 12:27
saves and freight costs, and then turnover in terms of production. So let's say you get a container or pallet, whatever, you know, wherever your business is, that gets cleared. I mean, if you have certain things dialed in, it can go to your you know, your filler, it gets filled, I mean, you can ship the next day to your retailer, to whatever your warehouse and then you know, get your product out to your customers. So the thought process there was to streamline, you know, the supply kind of flow.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:57
Okay, so the chemists piece. Now, once you were like, Okay, I want this person to be in South Florida as well, was that so you could just meet them and
Shontay Lundy 13:07
to be able to pop in and out to see how they're running their business to just to make sure that I'm visible. And, you know, you don't know how things are gonna go when you first start, and you just want to oversee every process, the founder that I am is very hands on. I don't have to know everything about everything, but I like to know a little about everything. So you know, you know, departments work in silos, but I'm popping in, you know, trying to figure out, hey, like, what's going on with the update? You know, so even from that perspective, it's understanding what challenges let's say, my suppliers might have my chemists may have or even my, my warehouse may have, they're all in the same spot, 30 minutes apart. And they all know each other. So it could be something so simple as like, hey, you know what, we actually can't get a carrier today. But we're gonna send somebody from our warehouse in a box truck to go pick a product. Now, we couldn't do that if we had, you know, operations in different states, right.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:08
And then when you're actually going to find this person, I'm always curious. Where did you start? Did you just Google chemists in South Florida?
Shontay Lundy 14:19
More keywords than that, but chemists, sunscreen, Fort Lauderdale, Miami manufacturer, South Florida, right to kind of broaden it to Yeah, so yes, those are the key words. And I did use Google heavily. And even though social has become very informal now. Yeah. Right, where people are constantly sliding into each other's DMS and it's like, Alright, let's move it over to email, right? Yeah.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:49
Casual for me now, you know, it's nuanced. It's nuanced. You can start something there but you can't really try to do business. You know,
Shontay Lundy 15:01
it also hadn't gotten to where it is today in 2016. Right? You're sliding into businesses DMS. So Google was the place that I went, it wasn't, you know, Instagram, it was referrals, because I don't know too many people that play in the sunscreen sandbox.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:26
Moving back into the whole development of the product piece, I'm curious to know how the funding piece work for you financing this? I think it's a piece that intimidates people a little bit like they think they have to have 10s of 1000s of dollars, how much did it cost to get started? And where did you get the money from?
Shontay Lundy 15:46
Skincare is expensive, I saved my money from my corporate positioned not knowing what I would ever spend it on. And I started Blackroll sunscreen with $33,000. And my minimum order was 5000 units. So even our minimums are a little bit higher than most industries, you can run I think, certain products on 500 units, 1000 units, and ours was 5000. So to jump in that space, and that category does cost a little bit. By the
Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:17
way, when you say minimum order quantity, you're talking about the amount that manufacturers require you to order before they'll work with you right now, like you were fulfilling for a store yet, okay.
Shontay Lundy 16:29
I wasn't to the point where we were able to prove the concept. So raising money hadn't even crossed my mind. It was okay, I have this money, what I want to do with it, I don't want to continue to live in Los Angeles and blow it. Because I was that person for four months, I didn't work. So I just depleted my savings. And I'm not too much of a planner. I think that things will just happen. I was like, I'm not, you know, some people will say like, oh my gosh, like, I'm gonna save this $33,000 or $35,000 for retirement. I'm like, Well, I'm in my early 30s, like, retire. And then maybe I'll retire, you know, I can retire sooner. And that was my thought process. I didn't have a fear. I didn't have a fear of losing the money. I didn't have a fear of, you know, not making it work. It was like, Well, this is the money that I saved. Now I'm gonna go harder, right? I'm gonna go harder. Now. Not everybody has the luxury to save. They don't. So I've seen crowdfunding, I've seen friends and family donate. I've seen raising right up front. By
Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:37
the way, when you say minimum order quantity, you're talking about the amount that manufacturers require you to order before they'll work with you right now. Like you were fulfilling for a store. Yeah. Okay. So now let's talk about this whole, you said it yourself proving concept. What does that mean? And how did you go about doing that?
Shontay Lundy 17:57
So that the concept was improving? Because typically, not typically, black people weren't wearing sunscreen. Right? So I mean, today, as we go out and try to raise a second round, we're still we're proving the concept is proven because we're in 10,000 doors across the United States and eight retailers. The concept is proven. But what does that actually mean? It means that people need to buy your product. You know, it's unfortunate that validation may come from a corporation, like going into a major retailer, then folks start to see like, oh, well, you're not this company that's being ran out of your basement. Or maybe you still are, you've secured this practice this, this huge partnership, right. So somebody believes in you somebody is saying that it's real proof of concept is is is growing your customer base and having people show that your product works? Yes, in a big way. So that takes patience in time. We started in 2016. Our first retailer came in 2019. And everyone's path is very different in their journey looks different. You
Nicaila Matthews Okome 19:05
are so right about that. I definitely heard about you in 2019 for the first time. And I was like, Where has this been all my life? Because when you initially said black people weren't wearing sunscreen, I was like, What are you talking about? I'd say somebody was wearing sunscreen. But then I remembered I went on a trip. I was in the freakin Mediterranean in 2015 or 2013. And I remember, you know, I put on a little bit, but my concern was, this is going to not match my makeup and I'm going to look crazy in these pictures. So I'm in the blazing sun, no sunscreen protection, and I look back and I just kick myself. So you're so right, because we didn't have something that worked with our skin tone.
Shontay Lundy 19:47
And even you know, we talk about raising capital and proving concept. Black Grossman's green is creating the data today as we speak, because when I was when I started, there was no day needed to go off of when we're looking at let's just use, you know, the United States, we're looking at the lighter skinned population. So that doesn't flickable. To to our demo. Yeah. Right. So it would have been, I think, extremely difficult to go out with this concept and get any type of font. So we did it by our D to see sales director consumer right off of the website. And that amount of sales is what said, hey, somebody cares. somebody's interested, somebody's buying it. Here's how we can expand here's the plan.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 20:44
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How did you start to raise awareness? You know, in that three year span, before you got into the retailer, what was the marketing strategy, the go to market strategy to really get people to start purchasing
Shontay Lundy 22:57
the strategy was to penetrate the regional market. So South Florida, right? We're in the sunny state, you think that everybody wear sunscreen? Nope. But the AIDS Foundation walk and I love this organization, because health is health. And I'm on the beach, and people are like 100 degrees, and we're doing a walk. And people are not wearing sunscreen in South Florida. So for me the strategy was, how do we get this population to believe, to see the benefits to understand the repercussions if they don't. So going out to every event that we possibly could. It didn't matter if there were 50 people or 10 people or 500 people, we wanted to be in the space. And we talked to everyone, it didn't matter if a person gave us a sigh, or just like no, I don't have time. And that's okay. Right. But somebody will stop and listen to you. And somebody that somebody may tell their friend, their relative, or co worker, whoever the philosophy today, a black girl sunscreen, is, make sure when you have a conversation, that you leave that person as an advocate, they don't have to purchase. They don't have to follow us on social. But they will say man, I just met this amazing person from this amazing company. And they are doing amazing work. Because it can be a lighter skin complexion per se. And they may not think that the product is for them. But you know what? You may have that black friend. They may have that person of color that did like wait, you're not wearing sunscreen. I was just given a whole lesson. Yeah, so our So our strategy then was to be community based. It's still our strategy today to be in places where you don't typically see corporations. How big was your team at this point? Oh, when? Yeah, one one.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 24:51
Were you able to pay people?
Shontay Lundy 24:52
Um, what was important to me was a web developer. And then I had a social media kind of manager. She was based in Hong Kong. On, and I outsource that that role to her. She, she just graduated from medical school. I'm so proud and happy for her. Yeah. But you know, she was posting 14 hours ahead. But you know, she was up, you know, two, three in the morning trying to get the graphics, and I appreciated this young woman, you know. It was what I could afford at the time to write, but by all sorts, it was me, her, and then our web developer. And then when I had to do events, I had to ask friends, like, in family, like, Hey, do you think you could show up? And there were a lot of times where it was a no, there were times where I was like, Yeah, I'm gonna come, they have no show, I'm lugging, you know, the activation stuff, and, you know, pitching up the pavilion, and putting on the tablecloth. And just telling myself, this is I know, I can do it. Shantay, if you can, if you can go out here and pitch this tent, and then talk to people with a smile on your face, get a couple of sales, you're gonna get there. So the team started off, were really just me, and it continued to grow. We're currently a team of 16 right now. And they're still gaps. We still have blind spots.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:07
It's tough. I mean, it's, it's so hard. There's just so many things you're learning as you go. And then there's the money piece, right? So you can't hire for what you can't pay for. So, as you were making money, you know, as you're starting to grow, what were some of the things you were investing in? First? Were you paying yourself? Or were you you know, just trying to reinvest back into the business and grow as fast as you could.
Shontay Lundy 26:33
The discipline is important when you're starting a company, because you have a few sales doesn't mean you just go and fire, extinguish it out. Yeah, there has to be a reinvestment in there also has to be a sacrifice on your own personal things. So does that mean that Shantae gets her nails done? Every two weeks? Or one week? Now? It might be three weeks? Yeah. You know, what are some of the things that can just go on pause until we get things up and running? No. Shantae did not pay herself and I do speak in third person, because I'm not even talking about me. Yeah. Shantay. So no, Shantae was not getting paid until 2020. And everything went back into the business from inventory and inventory perspective, to a mark to marketing to deciding what events we can get to. I mean, first time I went to essence this was in 2019, because because after that was COVID Yeah, and I was living in Miami, and I really wanted to go and the flights were astronomical. So I calculated the drive. And it was like 10 hours I was like, Alright, I'm gonna rent a car. I'm going to put my my cases a center screen in the back of the minivan or whatever it was, bring the tablecloth bring the the pop up tube, and I had professional friend take a ride. We found a hotel, the hotels were so costly, but we wanted to make it work. So we stayed 40 minutes outside of the, you know, where the main attractions were. And we just drove back and forth, you know, in the Top of the morning and the morning and then back to do the activities. Because we wanted to we needed to we wanted to be there. And that's what it takes is what are those sacrifices? How hard are you willing to go
Nicaila Matthews Okome 28:34
Oh, that is real. I love that you shared that story. You know what I'm also curious about since you were bringing product essence first how many prototypes did it take you like you have such a beautiful packaging? Especially that signature that original to me original black with the gold letters? How long did it take to get to that look and feel
Shontay Lundy 28:58
sometimes this this like connotation of graphic designer, it has to be like this big professional thing. And I started that route and funnily enough, the the renderings that I was getting they were just talking about the logo at first was a woman with an afro
Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:20
can't be black without a woman with afro.
Shontay Lundy 29:25
I wear my hair long, you know? Yeah, we work. And then I went on this website, and of course outsourced IT 25 bucks. And this man gave me like six options. I'm like, Okay, let's let's build off of this one. We narrowed some lines, made some lines bolder, and boom, came up with the logo. blackrose sent screenshots to be the G and then the s in the middle. And people asked me like, Hey, is that s for Shantae? Was that oh my You know, I never even saw the SS. Only, right. So that's how I like you get a sense of like, yeah, it's not, it's not a Shante brand, like this is for for the people this is for the women. So that was one piece of it. And now the colors was intentional. The black and the gold was intentional. So the research that I did was, alright, who are the players? How are they selling? Why are they selling? Sunscreen is seen as this fun, bright product, especially on shelves? Why? Orange, yellow, blue, play a little bit of pink, depending on the brand. I said, Okay, we got to do it differently. Right? How do we elevate our look? How do we elevate the concept of sunscreen. And first of all, gold is so luxurious. It looks so great on our skin. I said we're going to add gold and packaging. I'm not seeing a lot of cosmetic products in black. What does that mean for the consumer psyche? What are these colors actually stay? So we launched them black and gold based off of luxury, stress, royalty. Love it?
Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:16
And did you do a targeted influencer or celebrity play? Because when I started to see it, I started to see more and more influencers with it. And that's how I actually first heard about it.
Shontay Lundy 31:28
Not intentionally we didn't have the budget. My thought was good product to whoever is willing to try it. But we didn't in outright paying anyone to endorse the product, if you will. Yeah. However, our first paid influencer was Katie. Kay, the opera?
Nicaila Matthews Okome 31:49
Ah, yeah, from
Shontay Lundy 31:51
she's been in music videos. She was in couple films. Anyway, she was our first one. She's still on our page today. If you scroll down, we didn't have an influencer marketing strategy. Because what our intention was, is this is for the people. This is for the everyday woman. Right? This is why Shantay is not the face of the brand. Because what we are learning is that, well, if I look like this, and it's probably for me, if I don't look like this, then it's probably not for me. Still today, we have our letters from counterparts asking well, like a Filipino woman, Hey, can I use black screen or like it's for women of color? Yeah, honestly, if it's great for rich complexions is definitely great for fair complexions. So that was important to us that it wasn't just an influencer, that, you know, was the face of the brand. It is for all women regarding what you look like, if you identify as a woman of color, and you struggle with finding a sunscreen that doesn't give you a flashback or white residue, or rubs and completely This is for you.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 33:00
Now, have you raised money? And if so what stage did you start to target that as a route to raise capital
Shontay Lundy 33:08
we raised in 2020, we actually secured the finances in 2020. We started to initiate conversations in 2019. It probably took about seven conversations and four connections. And the reason why I say that is because conversations lead to connection. So he this person knows this person that knows this person that knows that person. And that's how we were able to find our investor. And it took quite a quite a bit of conversations. It was not an easy sell. And even today, with our track record, it's still an easy sell.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 33:43
How did you decide on that particular investor like you sounds like, well, the way you're describing it sounds like kind of a zeroed in rather than kind of going the route of going on the road. The roadshows were like and you know, pitching many, many VCs and trying to get as much investment as possible,
Shontay Lundy 34:01
it was important that this person believed in Shantae and unbuckle sunscreen, and that's what came across or intentions seemed, yes, pro investor, but also pro business because if we don't do well, then she doesn't there's no return on the money. Right? Right. So also understanding like, Oh, this is a no brainer, anyone that passes up on this. Like, you know, and that's what you need is someone that with blinders, or that's bias, but it's just so excited. And someone that is going to advocate for you, even if they're not on a zoom call with you. They're out with their friends and family. Oh my gosh, the founders amazing. The company is doing really cool things are very progressive and forward thinking, right? Like that's how we were able to say, let's shake hands and let's do this deal. And not everybody is as fortunate we didn't pit VCs because we weren't at that stage. We didn't want a must sheen, we wanted to dabble. Right? And honestly, for me, it has been a journey to even understand what people bring to the table when they have invested money, and can have a say, in how the business ran. So maybe starting off with maybe one person, as opposed to a group of people could be strategy for some.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 35:23
Absolutely. And, you know, giving yourself that time to truly understand what this will mean for your business to that that, to me sounds very, very smart. And what has changed in your business since you took on an investor?
Shontay Lundy 35:41
Um, I think relationships, relationships, and then also someone that able to see the picture from the picture, the business not being in the weeds. So if there are issues, and I'm like, hey, this just came up, there's someone with some resources that are not running the day to day, they're like, Hey, here's five options. Go ahead, make a decision. Okay. Right. So those are some of the benefits for me. And that's how my business has changed in since of its a different perspective, from a different walk of life, but with the same intention that I have. So how did you get into targets by working extremely diligently on social by having reviewers write articles on us. And Google visibility is important as visits. And buyers and retailers are constantly looking for new innovation, new products. And we got a call from them. Oh, so fun fact about black girls on screen is we hadn't an all retailers, we hadn't pitched to anyone, they came to us. And we are so fortunate to be in that position. It feels so good, right? Because that means that our message is resonating. That means that we are bringing some energy and some life back into suncare. And we are having the consumer look at it in a different way.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:19
Yes, I love that. It's that brand awareness play, which is so important. And again, it's something that's nuanced. Because when you're trying to figure out where to spend your time, it can feel like, this doesn't matter. It's about the business, blah, blah, blah. But you mentioned it SEO like you coming up in search terms. Like I can't imagine what would come before you for you know, when you're searching for sunscreen for black girls, right? Sunscreen for dark skin? And it's just that, nothing, nothing.
Shontay Lundy 37:51
It does. I mean, it will come up the general market brands but like, we know that that is a brand that's been pink playing this space for years. So well. Does that speak to me? Right? Let me
Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:02
know. We've tried that before. And how did you get prepared for target? Because we hear all the time even on this show about the order quantities that you have to meet? You know, did you start out with less doors? Did you have a say in that? How did you get ready for this new level?
Shontay Lundy 38:19
Crawl Walk Run has been the strategy of black girl sunscreen for years. And it's important to understand what you can handle and your capacity and what it's like to do business with now, you know, people that you think is not your boss, but do you have a say, right? Yes, yes. Yes. You know, so I think that, you know, with the crawl, walk run approach is if you're crawling, sure, it's appropriate to start with, I don't know, 200 doors, 200 doors, whatever that that door account looks like to understand what the flow, how long how long it takes, you can receive a purchase order, but you have to fund that purchase order before you even get paid. Right. And then let's say there are hiccups within the purchase order chargebacks defectives, how do you fund that? So, for me, I wouldn't have done it any different. Then starting with 250 doors, in markets that reflect and align with our brand. Then jumping up to 800 doors, and then being full chain three years in. He said, chain, black girl sunscreen is full chain and target Yes.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 39:32
Okay. So in every single target, correct. Oh my God, that's awesome. That is amazing. But you scale to that you grew to that? Yeah.
Shontay Lundy 39:40
Right. Not just in in target. But we're in also where Walgreens and CVS or Nordstrom Rack room Macy's, so there's scaling in many different retailers. But you still have to understand what that feels like. So not even just from a supply standpoint, but like kind of internal standpoint, who on your team is overseeing these type of accounts, who's the contact person? How skilled are they? What does that marketing look like? When you go on these bigger brands conglomerates, they're not sourcing customers to, let's just say Nordstrom, to the perfume counters, they expect you to just buy it right? Well, here we are as growing businesses and small businesses, posting about our retailers that we're in, you know, telling our customers to go and purchase to really interesting strategy because it takes away from your, your, your website. Yeah. Right. So you have to find this balance of sales and how to direct sales. So even that is a learning experience.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 40:38
How are you navigating that?
Shontay Lundy 40:40
We are, we want to be good and strong partners to all of our retailers. And we show love because we want them to reciprocate. And we also want our consumers to know where they can find this other than just online. I think, you know, understanding consumer behaviors is interesting, because are people going to individual websites to purchase? Or are they going to one website to then fill a car, right and recognizing that is you need to know that like what's going to draw somebody to your website. So we don't have an issue with it now. But I think eventually at some point, like, we may not have to name drop where we're found, because people know that already. Right. Like, you know, yeah. Your favorite perfume.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 41:28
So yeah, that's really that's a very interesting point. And while I'm still like my mind is still on full chain, like, Oh, my God, how you said you're 16 people on your team now. Right? Yeah. So he said, I'm trying to understand Shantay, the kind of support and team you have in place to support the type of trajectory that you're on right now. And the growth and scale of your business? How are you doing this?
Shontay Lundy 42:02
You'll get a smile on my face. On my face, and honestly, these conversations help. Yeah, right. Because for this hour, it will take my mind off of whatever is happening outside of my office. Yeah. And it brings us back to you know, the core mission and vision of the business and how it does resignate with so many different people and how hopefully, my thoughts and my story will help someone that is trying to do something something different. So how are we doing it? We're doing it patiently with excellence? Yes. Yeah, patience with excellence in realizing that competitors will come in this space. And that's okay. Because we need to hold hands to grow the market. Right? We're not rattled by new brands, it's okay. Because no one is black girl sunscreen, no one is Shante. No one knows what's going on in my thoughts. Right? If I do share it, they can't do it the way we're gonna do it, right. So with that, it is empowering women of color right company is comprised of at least 99% Women of Color to do their best here, right, we want to give opportunity to do your junior professionals, some seasoned, but to make a difference, to do something that is impactful, that is literally changing mindset in the world.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 43:23
Before we jump into the lightning round, I would love to know how have you, and what tools or companies have you used to help you manage things like now supporting full time employees, HR and those kinds of things that coming in as a business owner, you might not have been thinking about?
Shontay Lundy 43:43
I can't even plug these people. I'm just gonna be honest, I can't plug anybody to say that. I'm going to talk about a win in something that has made me very excited over the last couple of months. So most companies use QuickBooks for their accounting, and for reconciling and invoicing and all these things blackrose century we have just transitioned to SAP. Okay. Right, which is a very advanced and robust accounting system that integrates, you know, inventory. I mean, you do everything in the system, it lives minimum implementation is four months. Right. So, that one of the tools that blackrose Sentricon is using to run a business that has integrity.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 44:29
I will right now. Yeah, sap that sounds official and expensive. So congratulations. making that transition. So now we're gonna jump into the lightning round. Shante you just answered the very first thing that comes to mind. Are you ready? Yeah. Okay, so, number one, what's the top resource that comes to mind when you think of what has been a game changing resource in your business?
Shontay Lundy 45:00
I mean, the people are our people are the resources. You know them having the bomb as ideas. Yeah. And saying like, Oh, did you see this? Like, oh, let's do it this way, or, Hey, we're gonna go do this walkthrough or oh, let's wear the shirts like, honestly, like, We need everyone on our team to perform at a high level, all cylinders must be going and the humans are the resources that has really helped the business.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:26
Love that. Number two who is a non celebrity black woman entrepreneur who you admire who you know you strive to emulate, or you just would trade places with for day and why
Shontay Lundy 45:38
never trade places with anyone? All right.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:42
I'll have to switch up my whole question. Thank you.
Shontay Lundy 45:46
Never trade one. There's some women that I would love to pick their brain that are non celebrity. So you know, Sara Blakely, she's a celebrity in her own own right, she sold her business that she built for 20 years and is doing it as a mom. But there are some, you know, inferior structure questions that I have, you know, how did you How do you navigate through these challenges? Like how did you build your business internally, like who your first hires, whatever. And then I can transition to even my competitor, the founder of the brand that we are compared to the most, right, their top performing brand. They're not in many stores, but they have a lot of market share. How are you doing this on a day to day, right? We're here trying to conquer the same battle?
Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:34
Yeah, that's great. Number three, what's a non negotiable part of your day these days?
Shontay Lundy 46:41
And non negotiable? Is probably me just getting in the mirror and just reaffirming that. I'm gonna get through the day, in every day, tell myself that.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:51
Yes. Now, number four, what is a personal habit that you think has significantly contributed to all of your success? Being optimistic, I love that. And then finally, please give us some parting advice for fellow Black women entrepreneurs and side hustlers, who are tempted to give up who are tired of not having that steady paycheck, or just scared of losing it if they go out and do their business idea. Well, my
Shontay Lundy 47:22
first piece of advice is the crawl, walk run strategy, because sometimes we want to sprint and we need to really figure things out, and really create that, that foundation. So there's no cracks in it. You can't fall through it. My second piece of advice is follow your intuition. That's important, and I don't base. It sounds crazy. I don't base any of my decisions off data or logic. What? Crazy, isn't it? Yeah. So
Nicaila Matthews Okome 47:54
what do you base it off of?
Shontay Lundy 47:55
feeling? Feeling? All right, this, this feels good. To me. It feels great. Yeah. Okay. It looks looks like it makes sense. Let's do it.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 48:04
One that seems like it's working for you. And it's all about what works for you. So, but we have other
Shontay Lundy 48:09
people do that stuff. Right? Like, you know, dig into numbers analyze, you know, trends do yeah, do the research. I mean, black girls sent green is here with no data. Yeah. Not many people would do something like that without having proof. No proof of, of concept. And I said, Well, I don't need the proof. I want this. That I did what my soul told me to do. Right. So that's how I lead the business.
Nicaila Matthews Okome 48:43
Love it. So you guys, that is Shante, founder of Black Girl sunscreen. Where can we connect with you and black girls sunscreen after this episode?
Shontay Lundy 48:52
Yeah. So it's important that if anybody does want to have a conversation with me, and just need a soundboard or an extra set of ears, you can send a message to contact at Black Girl sunscreen, attention, Francis, and she'll get you on the calendar. And I think it's important that we leave it at that because this is not to promote a Shante but black girl century and is across the United States and, you know, four major retailers and they always find the product, black cross and green.com
Nicaila Matthews Okome 49:23
All right, guys, there you have it. Thank you so much for being the guest chair. And I will talk to you guys next week. Hey guys, thanks for listening to side hustle Pro. If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcasts. It helps other side hustlers just like you to find the show. And if you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram at side hustle Pro. Plus sign up for my six bullet Saturday newsletter at side hustle Pro, that CO slash newsletter. When you sign up, you will receive weekly nuggets from me including what I'm up to personal lessons and my business tip of the week again that side hustle pro.co/newsletter to sign up talk to you soon
Transcribed by https://otter.ai