Meet the beautiful and sassy founder of Black Girl Sunscreen Shontay Lundy, the driven entrepreneur who is also an MBA graduate from New York who now resides in Florida. Shontay discusses what motivated her to start her own beauty brand and what she defines as successful…
1. Could you tell me a bit about your brand and where did the name of your brand come from?
Currently, we produce our signature line of sunscreen, Black Girl Sunscreen. BGS is a weightless, ultra-sheer, fragrance free, melanin reinforcing SPF 30 sunscreen moisturiser using natural ingredients including carrot seed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, avocado and shea butter. I created Black Girl Sunscreen because I am my own customer. The name is intentional because I want other women of colour to know that this product is for them. BGS has been developed specifically using natural ingredients that moisturise the skin without leaving a white residue or, as we know it, being ashy.
2. What is your career background?
I am a New York-raised entrepreneur that has lived off and on in Los Angeles and Miami. I earned an MBA along the way and am currently pursuing a PHD. Most recently, I have made a powerful transition out of corporate America to follow my passion.
3. How did the idea for Black Girl Sunscreen come about?
The problem for me is that big brand sunscreens leave a chalky white residue. These brands just were not checking for women of colour. It was more about protecting skin, so it did not matter if the sunscreen made you look good or feel good. Underwhelmed by the lack of products on the market for people of colour, I knew there had to be something that could work. With this motivation, I started looking for a solution and discovered that there were natural ingredients that could boost melanin, offer proper UV protection and be fully absorbed by our skin; hence, the evolution of Black Girl Sunscreen.
4. Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
It was never my intention to be an entrepreneur in the cosmetic/beauty industry or even the skincare industry; I just saw a problem that needed to be solved.
5. Can you tell me a bit about the products and what distinguishes you from other sun care products now?
Black Girl Sunscreen was developed for woman of colour with natural ingredients that are appropriate for our skin complexion. We have eliminated the tell-tale white residue, all fragrances, parabens and all things that are toxic to the environment such as oxybenzone. The last thing you want is to be ashy, period. BGS is here to make women look and feel good while giving them the confidence to be in the sun while their skin is protected. Protect your melanin ladies!
6. Why do you think it is important for women of colour to wear sunscreen?
The number one mistake women of colour make is simply not using sunscreen. 59% of women know they should wear sunscreen regularly yet only 30% do. However, people of colour are at risk of skin damage despite the presence of melanin. Research shows African Americans have the highest rate of mortality in the U.S. population after receiving a melanoma diagnosis. These statistics cannot be ignored. Yes, “black doesn’t crack” but it needs to be protected. BGS serves as a preventative measure against sun damage, premature ageing, wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation and dark spots.
7. Where do you see your brand in the next 5-10 years?
We started BGS with the goal of eliminating white residue but now we are onto bigger things; we are creating a legacy and shifting mind-sets. Our mission is to create awareness globally around skin cancer, melanoma and sunburn. Black Girl Sunscreen will influence future generations to be skin conscious and dispel stereotypes related to people of colour and sun protection.
8. How would you define success?
Everyone measures success differently. To me, it is happiness and I found something I love to do. Therefore, I feel successful in finding my passion, but this journey is never ending.
9. What advice would you give to other women who strive to be entrepreneurs?
Follow your passion. You have to get out there and do it, because no one else will do it for you! Lastly, stay moisturised and protect your skin.