This is the second installment in an interview series with the 2021 Target Forward Founders cohort. Participating companies are sharing details about their innovative companies in their own words. All interviews have been conducted by the Target Forward Founders Program Management team.
Meet iwi fresh.
About the founder Yolanda Owens.
Yolanda Owens has handcrafted raw skincare products since 2003. The Skincare Farm Chef founded iwi fresh with the mission to inspire and educate people on feeding their skin the TRUTH – fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh herbs; and for each soul, to love the largest organ of their bodies–the skin. “iwi” is an acronym for “it is what it is”–because the products contain only the freshest raw fruits, vegetables and herbs. No chemicals, no toxins, no parabens. iwi fresh partners with local, urban farms and community gardens. The Skincare Farm Chef handpicks fresh fruits, veggies & herbs, juices them in the in-house kitchen and creates raw; skincare recipes from her grandmother’s home remedies. In 2004, Owens left her career as a computer network systems engineer for a Fortune 500 company to pursue her passion as The Skincare Farm Chef. Inspired by her Grandmother’s home garden remedies, iwi fresh raw skincare products were offered at local festivals and pop up shops. The first iwi fresh Skin Farming Spa opened in 2010 to offer sustainable selfcare spa services such as veggie facials. In 2020, the iwi fresh Farm Oasis: a 6,000sqft holistic wellness center opened to offer services such as reiki, yoga, garden therapy, reflexology and more. Both locations are in Atlanta, Georgia. iwi fresh is pioneering the Skin Farming movement. WholeFoods Market invited iwi fresh to launch the “iwi fresh Raw Skincare Bar” becoming the first RAW skincare product line featured in WholeFoods Market, equipped with a mini refrigerator to keep the products fresh. In 2020, iwi fresh began regional expansion through WholeFoods Market South Region. Amongst the many accolades and awards, iwi fresh was voted Best of Atlanta’s “Best Made From Scratch Spa Treatments” by Atlanta Magazine in 2015. iwi fresh was featured in the New York Times Small Business article “Owning the Future: A Spa’s Journey From Family Recipes to WholeFoods to ‘Survival Mode’” in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. In 2021, iwi fresh was selected by Square for “The Future is Built In Atlanta” Campaign highlighting 3 small businesses that are changing the entrepreneurial landscape of their community. The Skincare Farm Chef, Yolanda Owens is continuing the legacy of her grandmother while creating opportunities to build community wealth and establishing the lifestyle of “Feeling iwi fresh 24/7”.
Yolanda: iwi fresh is growing. We are scaling embracing this journey of becoming a lifestyle of “Feeling iwi fresh 24/7”. As a small business, there are several challenges we face including staffing, organizing inventory, and identifying sustainable companies to source from.
TT: What are you expecting to learn from the Target Forward Founders experience?
Yolanda: Through Target Forward Founders, I would like to gain insight from business owners who have scaled their business to an international level, and from business owners nationwide who have franchised their brands, and tips on managing the different structures of the business including a 501c3. I also enjoy sharing the gems that I have learned over the years with my business colleagues.
About the founder, Monica Evans-White
Monica White, founder, and creator of Magenta Roots Scalp Care, has always had a passion for the beauty industry, even as a little girl. Her mother encouraged her interest in hair and kept her equipped with plenty of dolls to express her creative side. Eventually, Monica moved on from dolls to her first clients while in middle school. From there through high school, Monica continued to grow her brand and clientele under the alias MoEv. In 2008, Monica began the journey to become a professional cosmetologist by enrolling at Pensacola State College’s (PSC) cosmetology program. Through hard work and steadfast efforts, She graduated Cum Lade from the program and was awarded her cosmetology certification and license in 2010. Monica’s first few years in the beauty industry were consumed with learning and exploring her talents through overcoming the routine trials and adversity experienced when growing in one’s craft. For the next five years, Monica learned as much as she could in the areas of business management, customer service, and supply management while working in a number of different salons in the Pensacola area. It was during this time that Monica found her focus and passion in natural hair and its care and began to develop her clientele around that niche. However, being only a stylist was not enough as she had dreams and aspirations of owning a salon of her own. Those dreams came to fruition in 2016 with the opening of MoEv’s Salon and Beauty in Pensacola, Fl. The salon quickly grew from housing one stylist to a team of three. While operating MoEv’s Salon and Beauty, Monica made it a priority to dedicate a portion of her time to giving back to the local community through back to school outreach and youth girls camps. After three years of being open, Monica was able to move the salon to a bigger space. However, the current brand and image of MoEv’s Salon and Beauty would not make the transition as well. Monica envisioned introducing a new experience and atmosphere to Pensacola’s African American beauty industry; an experience that was focused on love, tranquility, and self-care where women could build self-confidence through embracing their natural beauty. In 2019, Monica rebranded her salon, and opened Magenta Sky Salon. As Magenta Sky began to flourish, Monica encountered a growing number of new clients with scalp-related conditions, but noticed that she couldn’t recommend any products that she approved of to help them. She found that many of the products on the market were potentially harmful to the hair and body. Understanding that the cosmetology industry is constantly changing, the idea of introducing a new product to the market was daunting, but an endeavour Monica saw potential in. Over the course of a year, Monica developed an all-natural solution to solve the scalp related problems she had witnessed and launched Magenta Roots Scalp Care in late 2019. Since then, Monica has showcased her product at numerous pop-up markets, launched an online marketplace for Magenta Roots, and converted part of her salon into a production lab. Monica is currently scheduled as a key-note speaker for Black Beauty Expo hosted by Real Women Radio and will be introducing Magenta Roots to Atlanta, GA at the Black Beauty Expo and the Ultimate Womens Expo. ” When asked what continued to drive her forward with Magenta Roots, Monica continuously described it as her passion, stating “Scalp Care is one of my passions, and I will continue to help as many people as I can with my products. I made it my mission and intention to provide an option that works without further irritating and damaging the scalp. I stand by the phrase that my products are good…scalp good!
Monica: Network, production and marketing are the biggest challenges I am facing right now. At the moment I am confined to doing small scale promotion for my product. I produce, package, and sell all of my products on my own while managing my salon business. I need more insight on how to grow my company to the point where I can increase product production to fulfill demand. I need a broader network that can ad in giving my knowledge to take my company to the next level. I have the drive, determination and the faith in my company, I just need more education on how to get to the next level.
Monica: What makes Magenta Roots unique is its all natural properties. A Lot of the scalp care products contain harmful chemicals like triclosan, which is suspected to cause cancer in humans. I wanted to create a product that would help maintain scalp disorders, in a more organic way. Magenta Roots Scalp Care is an all natural solution to scalp issues, for any type of hair. We are here to provide everyday scalp maintenance for people suffering with dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, tinea capitis, seborrheic dermatitis and other scalp conditions. My products all contain healing and anti fungal abilities, while helping maintain healthy hair. Many scalp care products cause harm to the hair shaft and scalp by drying it out, or causing build up on the scalp and hair. The Moisturizing properties in Magenta Roots help to keep the scalp and hair balanced and in a healthy state with all natural ingredients. Magenta Roots will work with you not against you, and it also smells way more refreshing.
Meet Moisture Love.
About the Founder, Jeannell Darden
Jeannell Darden, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering with a focus on Economic Decision Analysis from The Georgia Institute of Technology. She’s had extensive experience in the consumer products, real estate, and business management consulting industries. With the support of her husband Lance, of 8 years, she exchanged her professional career to raise their children Zariah, Zaya, & Zachariah and to launch her own business. She’s always had a passion for beauty and entrepreneurship, and after making the decision to stop chemically treating her hair in 2005, she recognized a void in the natural hair care industry and began researching and developing her moisturizing product line. After years of research and development; Moisture Love previously Coco Curls re-launched in Atlanta, GA March 2017 and became . Moisture Love is a collection of products that helps women fall in love with their hair again with products that infuse hydration into every strand for true moisture that lasts. The brand is a platform that empowers women to confidently embrace their beauty, starting with building a loving relationship with their hair.. Give your curls some love with Moisture Love, a higher love.
Jeannell: Moisture Love is unique brand because while we transform curls with our cruelty free and vegan hair products formulated by a Georgia Tech Engineer; we primarily aim to transform the hearts of our customers. We want all women to confidently embrace their beauty and fall in love with their curls again. We facilitate this expansion of self love with education, community, and connection throughout our platform. Additionally we have a full time Beauty Concierge dedicated to enhancing your shopping experience and answering all your questions about your hair. No more wondering what to buy, and or trying to figure out how to use it. Our slogan is to give your curls some love with Moisture Love and become your #ownhairgoals!
TT: What is something your brand is missing that you hope to learn from the Target Forward Founders program?
Jeannell: My company is missing a retail presence. We have been sold in salons and independent beauty supply stores for years, but it is definitely time to have a national presence where consumers can quickly pick up products. We also need to know how to fortify our marketing plan to ensure that once we are placed in retail, we can then support consistent traffic and inventory turns in the store. I believe the program can help me understand the entire landscape of what to expect and how to best prepare for retail.
To learn more about each brand or to shop their products, click on their logos below!