“Even though I may not be able to move forward as fast as bigger brands, I am still moving forward.”
Within minutes of speaking to She’Neil Johnson, it’s easy to tell that she isn’t comfortable with being average.
Four years ago, Johnson founded BASE BUTTER, an all-natural skincare line. Her idea was to build a brand that redefined the portrayal of Black female beauty in media. The best part is that BASE BUTTER is made by and for women of color.
I had the opportunity of sitting down with She’Neil Johnson to learn more about her brand, her mission and some of her favorite things.
“I wanted to make products that are cool and look cool for us too.”
On What Inspired BASE BUTTER
With a background as a UX design consultant and a passion for community, Johnson poured her creative talents into BASE BUTTER. From the melanin-rich photography to their chic packaging, every move the BASE BUTTER team makes emphasizes their motto to protect and love your skin.
The foundation of the company is wellness. Johnson recalls how her struggles with acne led to the birth of BASE BUTTER.
“The most important thing was starting from the inside out. I think while growing up and dealing with acne and other skin conditions, I always looked for quick solutions.”
She noticed that she needed to investigate her routine.
“I just had to figure out what is my full routine, what am I putting inside my body and how is my environment affecting my body and my hormones. So that kind of goes into stress, exercise, eating. [I had to realize] that my wellness, more specifically my beauty routine and skincare routine, is a holistic process and not just one product that I am using.”
In short, it’s not solely about using organic skin care or having a clean diet. BASE BUTTER believes in holistic wellness practices including great beauty, lifestyle, and health habits.
We asked Johnson what some of her favorite self-care rituals are. Of course, she mentioned some of our favorite ways to instill peace within like daily meditation, prayer, and journaling. However, she also had some other great tips.
“I don’t sleep with my phone in my room. I sleep with my phone in the kitchen so that when I wake up the first thing that I do is not touch my phone. I definitely make sure that I feel connected and that I feel good and energized for the day.
She’s learned that time alone is the secret to fueling creativity:
“I spend a lot more time with myself now because I realize that I am an introvert. I love people but I realized that people take a lot of energy from me so I have to protect my energy so that I can be good for pp others and my business. I also took the mail app off my phone and so I only check my mail when I am actually on my laptop.”
On Running A Growing Business
By keeping her mind, body, and spirit at ease, Johnson can put her best foot forward. This can be crucial when problems arise. We asked Johnson what obstacles she has encountered and how she navigates them as a small business.
“A problem or challenge that I am always having is that you have to continuously adapt. The market is moving really really fast, and trends happen every day so as a small business it can be really challenging to adapt all of these principals to your business and to take advantage of all of the trends that are going on in order for your business to be successful.”
The BASE BUTTER Team doesn’t let a lack of resources or money stunt their growth. Instead, they turn their weakness into an opportunity to learn and strategize.
“I am always remaining knowledgeable and I have experts on my team such as the product developer, Marketing and PR person and a digital strategist. And they are always informing me/making me aware of changes to Facebook’s app, Instagram’s app and Instagram’s algorithm always changing.”
One thing is for sure, Johnson’s vision for success is clear.
“Success for BASE BUTTER looks like a well-known household brand that is on the shelves at major retailers and that has loyal customers.”
On Recieving Advice
She says that the best advice that she has received so far about growing her brand is to take her time.
“The best advice I have received […] is to take my time. I am an ambitious person. When I want to do something, I just jump and do it. But I have been working on BASE BUTTER since 2014 and now it’s 2018 so that is almost 4 years. I have learned that you have to be in it for the long run in order for it to be successful.”
BASE BUTTER is to be a household name and just like the advice Johnson received, it too takes time. Despite this obstacle, one task the company works diligently toward is to create positive promotion materials. Their marketing materials combat the negative depiction of women of color in national media.
“Our tagline moving forward is to ‘accept your skin.’ We are creating all-natural skincare that works to enhance and protect your skin but we’re not promoting for you to alter or change or cover-up your skin.”
It’s important that brands like BASE BUTTER, founded and developed by African American women enter the market. Over the course of these last few months, we have seen a surge in the necessity for representation across all avenues but especially within the beauty industry.
She’neil Johnson believes that “For Us, By Us” skincare is essential.
“We believe that in order to make a quality product for women of color that women of color need to be at the forefront. They also need to be at the table making the decisions because the people that know our experience the best are us and who can understand us the best is us.”
Johnson’s knowledge of skin and beauty is evident. She makes sure to research every ingredient she uses. When asked what her go-to beauty product is, she definitively answered with BASE BUTTER’s Radiate: Tea Tree + Lavender Hydrating Face Gel.
“We wanted to create a moisturizer that wasn’t oily, it wasn’t heavy but it was still very hydrating and moisturizing and it was healing for your skin. It is an Aloe Vera gel-base but it has tea tree and lavender in it. Plus, it has this really good oil in it called Evening Primrose. It is my go-to product because it’s good all year round.”
On Her Sucess Inc.
Johnson and friends co-founded an organization called Her Success Inc. to give back to the community. Their mission is to “expand the limits of extraordinary young women who are overlooked or underrepresented.” The program gives young girls mentors to expose them to everything that they are capable of. By showing them their talents, they hope to challenge the girls to chase their dreams without fear.
“Our mission is to create a world where women are uncomfortable with average.”
Slowly but surely all the hard work the BASE BUTTER Team has put in is paying off. Recently, the brand appeared in CRWN Magazine as a part of “The Love” issue.
“That page in CRWN Magazine was really just a representation of networking and being consistent with your brand and having people support and believe in you.”
On This Year’s Goals
The journey is just beginning for BASE BUTTER. Last fall, the company held a “Glow-Up” party to relaunch the brand and to celebrate how far they have come. They have learned a lot along the way and Johnson promises to bring that same glowing energy into this year.
“This year I want to strategically talk with my audience and talk with my customers and really figure out what is the singular problem that women of color are having with their skin so that BASE BUTTER can create a solution or solutions to that.”
Johnson couldn’t share details about the spring product re-launch, but she did let us in on one hint:
“We will still have what everyone loves but it will be enhanced.”
We can’t wait to see what newness the team is going to bring in a few months.