Two local beauty brands recently got a big boost courtesy of Macy's. The retail giant hosted a business development program in New York City called The Workshop, inviting minority, LGBTQ, veteran and women-owned businesses they believe could succeed in larger retail markets. The program is meant to create "pipelines for supplier diversity," a press release says.
Out of 3,000 applications, 15 were selected, and two came right from the Bayou City: Earth's Nectar, a body and haircare company founded by business partners Tamika Fletcher and Monique Mack, and Mair, a fragrance line from Mair Emenogu.
It's not the first time Houston beauty brands have stood out on a national level. Last year, local skincare company Camellia Alise—and two other companies from Houston—won over Walmart buyers in a Shark Tank-like open call for new products.
The program held master classes on topics like building brand identity, managing business relationships, and financial management for sustained growth. Since the workshop began in 2011, it's graduated more than 100 companies, many of which have gone on to partner with Macy’s brands.
“This has been one of the most impactful things we’ve ever done for our business,” says Fletcher, who first started making environmentally friendly hair products for natural hair about 15 years ago in her Houston kitchen.
Emenogu started her business after an executive at her former receptionist job said he could see her name on a perfume bottle. She likens the Macy's program to an "intense, mini MBA."
“This workshop came in and gave me the information I would have gotten if I had studied business,” she says.
She founded Mair in 2015 with her signature fragrance, “Remember When,” a nod to the time when she first thought of launching the line. Her fragrances will be available for a limited time at The Market @ Macy’s in San Antonio's North Star Mall.
Both Emenogu and Fletcher say they sometimes feel isolated as small business owners, and both found it helpful to connect with other independent entrepreneurs through Macy's.
“Every time we had a break, we talked about our individual business issues,” Fletcher says. “What I learned the most was through my classmates. Everyone was so open to sharing.”
At The Workshop, business owners were encouraged to take a step back—to start acting less like entrepreneurs and more like CEOs. “We get so hands-on with the business that we forget we need to work on the business,” Fletcher says. “You can’t grow if you’re focused on every single task and not delegating.”
Now, she says, she wants to focus on building partnerships and developing more products. Earth's Nectar is currently sold at ULTA and Sephora.
The week ended with a vendor showcase open to the public at the Macy’s flagship in Herald Square. “It was so surreal to start in my kitchen and now show our product in the largest Macy’s in the world,” Fletcher says. She also gives props to Macy's: Letting her take part in the program at no cost proves the retailer's commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion.
“If you have a dream, go for it,” Emenogu says. “Houston is a hustle town. If you just jump you’re going to land.”
Applications for the 2020 program will open in October.