If you ever have the opportunity to meet, Chichi Eburu, Owner and Founder of the black-owned cosmetics brand, Juvia’s Place, her demeanor might surprise you. Soft-spoken and petite, one might even characterize her as being unassuming. But make no mistake; Eburu is a boss in every sense of the word. She’s sharp. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to bring her wants to fruition. This precise vision is no doubt what keeps this brand flourishing year after year. Still, I have to admit, there’s been a change in the brand’s commander-in-chief in the last year. I visited the Juvia’s Place New Jersey headquarters a year ago, invited by Eburu to see first-hand the company’s main facility and day-to-day operations.
On that day, Eburu barely sat still, running from the warehouse to her office to the boardroom where meetings seemed to occur every hour on the hour. While I found her energy impressive, I also wondered how she managed to keep everything afloat. So many beauty bloggers and beauty lovers toy with the idea of starting their own beauty brands, however, seeing what it actually takes is enough to send many of us running back to our 9-5 office jobs.
Not surprisingly, shortly after that visit, Eburu texted me from a hospital bed. She had been admitted due to dehydration and exhaustion.
Fast-forward to today, and a new Eburu sits before me. For one, she’s following doctor’s orders and practicing self-care, but more than that, there is a calm, almost zen-like air about her. I’m not sure what’s brought on the change, but whatever it is, it’s paying off. In the year since I’ve seen her, the brand has almost doubled in size and revenue. And the new office space and warehouse I toured just last year, is now proving to be too small. Business is booming. But Eburu doesn’t seem flustered by the rapid growth. On the contrary, she’s more determined than ever. “There is still a lot to be done,” she assures me. And I believe her.
But let’s go back to the beginning.
Where it began
Juvia’s Place launched in 2015. At the time, Eburu was a wife and stay-at-home mom to her two small children. Incidentally, Juvia’s is a fusion of the children’s names: Juwa, her son’s African name, and Olivia, her daughter’s name. She didn’t have much money to start, $2000, in fact, but she was going to make it work.
“I didn’t have a headquarters. I was living and working from my 2-bedroom apartment in New Jersey. That’s where I started. I couldn’t get a loan. I had to make a decision about how to spend that $2000.”
And make it work she did. Eburu started by selling makeup brushes and beauty tools. She then utilized social media influencers to spread word of mouth, thereby increasing brand recognition and revenue. The increase in capital allowed her to invest in the palette that would change not only her life, but also the way in which we view black women in the beauty industry today.
The Nubian Palette
Introduced to brand in 2016, The Nubian hit the scene by first selling out at makeup trade shows before launching on the site and going viral almost instantly. The Nubian palette made Juvia’s Place the brand we know and love today. Eburu is very clear about for whom she designed this palette and every palette to follow: dark skin women.
As a dark skin woman, she felt frustrated by the fact there really wasn’t anything on the makeup shelves that spoke to her:
“I just couldn’t connect. I like colors that pop. At the time, there was Limecrime, Kat Von D, and other Indie brands but they weren’t speaking to dark skin people. Nubian, on its own, means blackness. So I took inspiration from Egypt and Queen Nefertiti, and I used very colorful packaging to make it scream even more. I just wanted something different.”
Indeed, Juvia’s packaging, which always features a black queen, solidified the company as a brand by us and for us. Placing blackness front and center had never been done in this way, and fans responded. And not just black fans, either. The brand is popular amongst people of all skin tones. Known for vibrant pigments that show up beautifully on the deepest to the lightest of skin, Juvia’s Place is truly a brand that leaves no one behind.
Juvia’s popularity isn’t dying down, either. Since launching with only $2000 4 years ago, the brand is now worth millions, many, many times over, and products can now be found in over 500 Ulta Beauty stores nationwide. With the growing number of Black-owned brands making major moves in the beauty industry, Eburu isn’t the least bit deterred or worried about losing her position as one of the fastest growing Black-owned brands on the market. In fact, she wants to see more Black-owned beauty brands get a piece of the pie.
“I love competition, actually. I think it’s a good thing. As long as everyone is unique. We can all cater to the same group of people, you just have tell your story in a different way.”
With successful product launch, after successful product launch what’s left for Juvia’s Place?
“Complexion products. We’ve been working on complexion products for the last year and will be launching sometime this summer. We’ll have foundations, concealers, and setting powders for every single skin tone you can imagine.”
With the growing number of brands offering 40+ foundation shades, Juvia’s Place seems to be right on trend with what’s hot now, but Eburu sharply rejects that idea, pointedly remarking that blackness as a trend is one of her major gripes with the beauty community. And she’s right, beauty brands pandering to black consumers to make a buck is happening all around us. Eburu, however, hopes to change that by showcasing true inclusivity.
“Black people are not new. We are not trendy. We have always been here and we have always been beautiful.”
Eburu’s hope is to launch more campaigns that show black people in all our glory, in a genuine fashion. To make blackness as mainstream as our counterparts.
“That’s what’s Juvia’s Place is all about. We want people to see and love blackness.”
For more visit Juviasplace.com
Hey, Boo! My name is Lisa and you’ve stumbled upon my own little corner of the world. I’m a 30 something-year-old writer/mother/wife who happens to love lipstick, high heels, blackness, and the truth. You’ll find a mix of everything on this site, so I won’t bore you by trying to define this space. I hope you stay awhile!