A Pop-Up Shop Strives to Make Natural Products for Natural Haired Women

Kenyetta Corbin runs around her pop-up shop as more and more women stride in through the door asking for her most sold product, the all-natural body butter. The Spice Suite, where she sets up every week, smells of a sweet sage and pungent spices with low R&B music playing in the background.

The brown storefront in Northwest D.C. is filled with African American women from all over the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area and the sound of laughter fills the air.

For years, many African Americans were unaware that the beauty supply products they were buying were not manufactured by African American owned companies, according to bobsa.org. Historically, African Americans were involved in black products and styling, but Korean immigrants re-innovated the storefront model. Before that time, the products were sold from door-to-door.

Lori Cooks, who just recently bought from Natural4Naturals for the first time said, “The products are unlike anything I’ve ever bought before. They are so natural, and she definitely has a new and now faithful customer. It just feels so much better for me than other products you find in your local beauty supply store.”

Natural4Naturals is a natural hair company that does pop up shops in various stores around the region. It was founded by Kenyetta Corbin and her grandmother, Ernestine Corbin. 

At 12-years-old, Corbin found an interest in black beauty products by helping her grandmother make products and with her pop up shops. She knew haircare was the field she wanted to make a difference in. Their mission is a be a one-stop shop for all things natural and to build a marketplace that allows customers to be confident in the products that they are buying.

According to a 2017 Nielson Study, African American women spent more than $54 million in ethnic hair products out of a total spend of $63.5 million. In 2004, Sam Ennon founded the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (BOBSA) to help address concerns many black community members had about not being able to buy black products in local beauty supply stores.

BOBSA has helped open over 450 black owned beauty supply stores across the country, since their founding 15 years ago.

“The tender, love, and care that we put in our products. Everything is plant based. The time, the effort, and the love that we put in our products make us different from a lot of other companies,” Corbin said. “It is just our time to support black, buy black, wear black, and be black. It is definitely time for us to step up as a people and rise and come together and be in unity with one another,” she continued.

Natural4Naturals is not the only one of its kind. 

More shops and local businesses like it are growing throughout the D.C. area. Brown Beauty Co-Op started by Kimberly and Amaya Smith opened in December 2018 with a purpose of specializing in natural beauty for darker skin tones and natural hair. That shop is located in Dupont Circle.

Natural4Natural’s website, is very similar to Etsy and allows other black-owned brands and companies list products on their website. They only accept vendors whose products are made from all-natural ingredients.

In an Essence Magazine interview in 2018, Ennon, the president of BOBSA said, “Koreans used to control the market, now they are selling the stores back to us because their kids do not want to take on the store.”

Angela Hutson is a faithful buyer from Natural4Naturals, drives an hour and a half every weekend to restock on her products. “I was skeptical at first because all natural products do not work for certain skin types, but the ingredients that her products have are all natural. It makes my skin feel really soft and smooth. I had eczema on my face, and it took it away,” Hutson said with a proud smile on her face.