Black-Owned Startup LAMIK Beauty Perseveres Amid Pandemic Crisis
LAMIK Beauty Founder Kim Roxie has been in the beauty industry since she was 21 years old. After 14 years of owning a local makeup shop in her hometown of Houston, TX, she closed her business to focus on her online product – a clean, non-toxic makeup line for women of color – and launched LAMIK 2.0 in March 2020, just as the pandemic hit and the economy was shutting down.
LAMIK stands for “Love and Makeup in Kindness.” It was important to Kim that women of color be included within the beauty industry and feel good about themselves, without doing it in a way that harms them. As Kim explains, women of color have been historically underserved by the beauty market, with 75 percent of beauty products marketed to women of color being toxic.
For most people, growing a business at the start of a global pandemic may have slowed them down. But not Kim. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, LAMIK Beauty leveraged a software that allows customers to try on makeup products that are available for purchase through its website. This augmented reality, or “COVID-friendly makeup testers” as Kim calls them, allows customers to digitally try on cosmetics. The brand has also created online quizzes for consumers to find the right products for them, as well as hosts virtual consultations and live step-by-step tutorials on how to use certain products.
These innovative digital options were critical in replacing what is predominantly an in-person experience: trying on makeup to see how it looks and feels before you buy it, or having a makeup artist show you how to apply the makeup. Getting consumers to adapt to the virtual options, Kim shares, has been one of the greatest challenges throughout the pandemic.
“Since we're in the beauty business, one of the biggest challenges is social distancing,” Kim said. “When you think about beauty and how traditionally women try on makeup and a makeup artist does that for them. So some of those things are just not able to happen right now. We're having to go with more of a digital option and getting people to adapt to that has caused some difficulty.”
LAMIK Beauty isn’t the only business struggling and being forced to pivot. A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation showed that 60% of Black-owned businesses have experienced a decrease in sales in the past six months. To help provide immediate financial assistance and long-term support for America’s Black small business community, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB) initiative was developed in partnership with American Express, the U.S. Chamber Foundation, and the nation’s leading Black chambers. Since its launch in September 2020, the Coalition distributed $5,000 grants to 600 Black small business owners across the country and continues to offer mentorship, training, and resources to help these business owners keep their dreams alive.
Kim was one of the 600 business owners who received a grant.
“The CBBB grant was pivotal to our sustainability in 2020,” Kim shares. “The monetary grant was great, because it came at the right time, to be able to sustain us and fund a project that we're working on. But to also get help in regards to the network and mentorship is extremely important right now.”
Aside from access to capital – which is the number one need right now identified by Black-owned small businesses – Kim points out the importance of genuine partnerships and continuous support for the long haul to help Black-owned small businesses thrive during these uncertain times. And the response she has seen thus far has her feeling hopeful.
“I've been an entrepreneur since I was 21, so a lot of the things that I see people doing now, I have never seen people do before as far as reaching out and giving access to resources, or being open to network with them. I just don't want to see it go away.
Going through these times, [business owners] have to be innovative and mindful, but at the same time, feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders because you're trying to come up with answers in a different environment. But having this community has been really good and knowing that someone even cares right now is really important.”
LAMIK Beauty has been highlighted as one of the eight Black-owned beauty companies by BET (Black Entertainment Television) and has been featured in Essence, Allure, Cosmopolitan, and MarthaStewart.com. In 2019, Kim was recognized as one of Houston Business Journal’s 40 under 40, and named one of American Business Journal’s Most Influential Young Executives.
The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is proud to support business owners like Kim and continues to help improve the lives of Black small business owners across the country. Learn more about CBBB here.