Finding the right hairstylist in Los Angeles is already a mission, but as a Black woman with textured hair, the task seems both time-consuming and costly. Fortunately, Beauty Beez is answering that call for women and men of color with its new beauty bar in North Hollywood.
Only two months after L.A. County issued the reopening order of hair salons with limited capacity, the beauty supply store last month announced the expansion of its boutique, which is now a 3,300-square-foot flagship and salon. In addition to stocking 200 haircare, skincare, cosmetics, grooming, and body brands (including Native, Beauty Beez's own line of hair extensions), the space now offers a full-service braid bar alongside facials and waxing.
While noticing the lack of options for women of color and the negative customer service experience in the hair and beauty space, Brittney Ogike, a sports and business manager and self-professed lifestyle momager, founded Beauty Beez to set the standard of how women shop for their hair care needs.
"The shopping experiences for women of color are largely inadequate. Beauty supply stores that have our beauty essentials lack the customer service we are afforded at prestige beauty retailers; however, [those companies] do not have inclusive product offerings," Ogike tells UncoverLA.
"On average, Black women may visit up to three different stores in a single trip to get all we need in makeup, skincare, and hair care," she says. "So, I wanted to fill the gap and create a one-stop shop."
Launched as an online boutique in July of 2019, Beauty Beez's brick-and-mortar storefront opened just one month later. As 2020 rolled in, the retail space struggled during its first year due to the pandemic. But, despite a year with both political and racial challenges, Ogike prevailed as many Black women sought out ways to maintain their hair, practice self-care, and support as many Black-owned businesses as possible.
With this success, Ogike was able to expand the shop with new services, including a braiding lounge and treatment room that offers waxing and other wellness practices ranging from $25 to $335. From box braids to crochet, guests can choose from a range of braiding styles while relaxing with a glass of wine and an iPad for entertainment. During these tailored services, guests can also receive advice from expert estheticians to cater to their unique skincare needs.
As far as shopping, clients can stock up on products from Black-owned companies including AJ Crimson, Curls, Mixed Chicks, Mischo Beauty, Shea Moisture, Rich by Rick Ross, Talia Waajid, TGIN, and many more alongside brands like Clairol, L'Oréal, Redken, and others.
Beyond elevating the beauty supply store experience, Ogike also runs Prima Sports, a lifestyle management firm for professional athletes; her brother is pro basketball player, Khris Middleton. She's also the board chair of Middleton Family Foundation, a private organization that provides relief and support for underserved communities. As a Black entrepreneur, Ogike is dedicated to reaching back within the community to support and hire other people of color.
We caught up with the business mogul and mother of two to chat more about Beauty Beez, her new role as a leading figure in the L.A. beauty retail scene, and her favorite beauty products from the shop. Read on below, then scroll down to see the shop's address and book your appointment.
Can you tell us more about your career journey and how you got to where you are today?
My background actually isn't in beauty. Truthfully, I'm an avid consumer and product junkie. My career for the past decade has been in sports management. After starting a family, I was tired of all the demands working in sports required which lead me to change gears and seek out new passions that could offer stability for my family and me. After realizing the constant dissatisfaction, my friends and I — who are all women of color — experienced shopping, I decided the retail industry needed an elevated space where women of color could shop for all of their beauty needs.
How long has the idea of Beauty Beez been brewing?
I ruminated on the idea for a few months and then started creating the framework for it. It took me about a year from idea to launching.
How do you define success, and how did you carry it out despite the pandemic and everything else happening in America?
Despite a crazy first year with COVID-19 and the racial justice movements, we have seen a constant increase in sales in all categories. The challenges we faced caused us to pivot in ways to reach our customer in a more meaningful way.
We did this by increasing our efforts in social media engagement and creating an omnichannel retail experience where customers can purchase us online, on social and curbside pickup. This is what we attribute much of our success to.
How do you see the Black hair industry in Los Angeles and how did you feel you could improve it?
The Black hair care industry has been ignored for a long time. The industry was created by pioneers like Madam CJ Walker, but since then, it's been overtaken by groups largely outside of our community who lack the understanding of ethnic hair. It's given rise to local nondescript beauty supply stores on every corner in neighborhoods across the country.
The Los Angeles area has seen a sudden increase in Black-owned beauty supply stores that mirror the image of our Korean counterparts. I wanted to create the beauty supply reimagined; an elevated experience that meets the demands of multicultural women.
The hair industry tends to lack salons that cater to women of color with textured and natural hair patterns; how does it feel to now be a pioneer in the industry, especially as a Black female business owner?
It's very empowering. The ability to provide solutions for my community has been such a rewarding experience. I integrated all of my experience as a Black consumer into every facet of the business. Our customers, referred to as The Hive, know that Beauty Beez, is a safe space created specifically for their unique needs. Their reactions entering the store and knowing it's Black-owned are priceless. It's a testament to why we exist.
Any advice for other business owners like yourself, whether it is in the beauty industry or any other sector?
My best advice would be to just go for it. You cannot wait for the perfect moment. I read some advice when I was in the early phase of developing Beauty Beez that said to complete at least one task a day that gets you closer to your goal. It can be as small as research on a particular topic or as big as creating a website or registering your business.
I kept this approach in mind and a year later, we launched. There are going to be many challenges and hurdles along the way. Take them one day at a time because the gratification you feel once your business has launched will be worth it.
What are your top favorite products that you use from the store?
There's so many. I have brands that I love because they're clean or sustainable or just very effective. TGIN is one of my favorite hair care brands in the store. My favorite skincare brand is Bolden Skincare because it was made specifically for darker skin tones and I see great results. Lastly, my favorite makeup brand would have to be AJ Crimson Beauty. He has the perfect nude lipstick that I wear every day.
Ready to get pampered? Book your appointment online here.
Beauty Beez, 6522 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood, 91606; Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.; (818) 856-8185