If you’re not already addicted to farm-to-table skin care, , you need to be—the pure ingredient movement is taking over the industry and organically sourced products are only becoming more popular. But less mainstream is Black-owned business making a mark in this space.
Niambi Cacchioli saw this need a few years ago and launched a homemade product line, Bloomsbury Sq, after having lived in Europe for 12 years surrounded by fresh food and apothecaries. As a Londoner and a Parisienne with Kentucky roots, she understands the importance of striking a balance of “city life with the simple pleasures of eating a wholesome lunch on a garden bench” and “getting grounded with a barefoot walk in the grass, or just enjoying the seasons change one bloom at a time,” she says. Here, she talks about why opening a brick and mortar and product line inspired by her favorite urban sanctuary in London was her smartest move yet.
Here, she talks about why opening a brick and mortar and product line and inspired by her favorite urban sanctuary in London was her smartest move yet.
ESSENCE: Having the funding to start a makeup company can be a challenge. How did you raise money? How did you start your business?
Niambi Cacchioli: I am still very much in the hustle stage. For most of our six years, Bloomsbury Sq has been a hyper local skincare brand that sells at farmers and artisan markets so my husband, Marc and I were self-funding it. When I opened our Jersey City store and studio, I was able to pull together $500-$1,000 loans from friends and family. Since then I’ve also had a couple of lines of credit from my merchant services provider that have been a lifeline.
ESSENCE: Has starting your own business been everything you expected?
Niambi Cacchioli: No, not at all. I began just after leaving a career in academics and cultural outreach and it took me several years to see myself as real business owner. But over the last six years, I realized that my business had grown into a calling to help women—especially those who describe themselves as having problem skin.
ESSENCE: What does having a black owned business mean to you?
Niambi Cacchioli: After years of traveling, living abroad, and researching healing traditions in the African Diaspora, I’m amazed how our herbalist wisdom has infused beauty rites across the globe. Alongside shea, coconut and mango, I love connecting women of color with ingredients like witch hazel, hibiscus, moringa, hemp, chamomile, ylang ylang, and mint that have replenished Africans and their descendants for generations.
ESSENCE: What is the beauty industry missing these days?
Niambi Cacchioli: The beauty secret is out. Plant and mineral skincare can help millions of women keep their skin healthy, toned and ageless. And as demand for ingredient transparency grows we really need to innovate farm-to-face and forest-to-face sourcing in the same way that the organic food industry is doing.
ESSENCE: How do you plan to expand your business?
Niambi Cacchioli: To prepare for growth, I first had to streamline our Jersey City brick and mortar store. This past January, I opened an in-store cafe featuring locally blended teas and coffee. It was a hit with our community and helped customers better understand the benefits of natural ingredients. This Fall, we will move to a new location whose design will distill our shop and café concept down to a beauty apothecary experience. Once that’s set in motion, we will focus on creating seasonal Haven Boxes that pair our skincare with seasonal teas, botanical chocolates and floral essences so that women across the US can enjoy the Bloomsbury haven experience wherever they live. We plan to launch our first Haven Box for the 2017 Holiday Season.
ESSENCE: What separates your business from competitors?
Niambi Cacchioli: I am an ingredients geek! We still batch and pack all products ourselves. I can list every single oil, essence, botanical and clay and even personally know some of the farmers and distillers. It’s a powerful feeling to tell a client that a Missouri farmer named Penny harvested the wild plum blossom floral water that replenishes her skin. The connectivity in such moments infuses every part of the Bloomsbury Sq.
ESSENCE: Have you partnered with any celebrities?
Niambi Cacchioli: Not yet, but Jessica Williams is also on my partner wishlist. I love her #nofilter approach to beauty as raw, compelling and sensual. It would be fantastic to work with rising stars that are redefining notions of self-care and beauty for women of color.
ESSENCE: What would your top piece of advice be to someone who is thinking of starting their own beauty business?
Niambi Cacchioli: If you are naturally introspective like me, honor the gifts that come with that like creativity, tenacity and compassion. But understand that at some point when you have a setback, it will feel very public. Allow yourself to pause, and trust that the comeback is stronger than the setback.
ESSENCE: YouTube beauty gurus are on the rise, what does this mean for the future of your business?
Niambi Cacchioli: I’m so excited about YouTube! There’s a lot of content on YouYube right now, but I’m always surprised by how much misinformation and harsh beauty rituals are trending. So, naturalista and wellness gurus like Latham Thomas and Chelsea Williams are essential in sharing safe, healthy and nourishing products like mine with women that turn to YouTube as their main beauty info source.
ESSENCE: Please provide 5 of your beauty must haves.
Niambi Cacchioli: Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Pacifica Natural Eye Pencil
Modern Minerals Matte Blush in Love
Ginger + Liz Nail Varnish in Grounded
Liquid Courage Cosmetics Embrace Nude Matte Lipstick
Bloomsbury Sq is located at 942 Summit Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307.