• Sianna M. Simmons

Beauty Behind the Brand Week 3: JACQ'S

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

In week three of Beauty Behind the Brand, we are featuring the deliciously tropical line from JACQ’S, a vegan and clean beauty skincare line, created by Barbara Jacques to help women slay naturally.

While using ingredients that sound like a refreshing smoothie recipe may be a new concept to some, to Founder Barbara Jacques, sourcing from the earth is quite literally a part of her roots. Instead of antibiotic creams with Salicylic acid, Barbara was introduced to plants and herbs as a way to treat her troublesome adolescent skin. She remembers scrubbing her skin with Aloe Vera, drinking bitter tea, and grating her own fresh carrot juice to wash it all down. While Aloe Vera is relatively easy to manipulate, making carrot juice, especially as a young adult, seems like a cruel task. “I didn’t think they cared about me! I didn’t like them for it since making the juice was so laborious,” says Barbara.

Known or not, earth-friendly practices and herbal medicine is a part of our African ancestors culture. Despite this, the mainstream eco-consumerist movement isn’t including black voices or advertising to black audiences. Why are we ignored in this space and more importantly, how did we become divorced from our heritage and knowledge of the ingredients used by our ancestors? The answer I know lies within our colonial history dating back to Christopher Columbus’s crashing arrival to the Caribbean, but... we will save that for another post.

In 2017, African-American Women spent $465 million on skincare but according to an assessment conducted by EWG that analyzed the ingredients in 1,177 beauty and personal care products marketed to Black women, found that less than 25% of the products marketed to Black women scored low on potentially hazardous ingredients, compared to about 40% of the items marketed to the general public. Less than half is STILL not a good statistic. The research on the effects of beauty products on consumers of color is seriously lacking but in another publication from The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology on The Environmental Injustice of Beauty: Framing Chemical Exposures from Beauty Products as Health Disparity Concern, they stated that “Compared with white women, women of color have higher levels of beauty product-related environmental chemicals in their bodies, independent of socioeconomic status.”

We know that the problem isn’t completely on 21st-century products since we’ve been using relaxers and lye’s filled with chemicals for generations. We can however acknowledge that the dominant euro-centered beauty standards imposed [READ colonialism and white supremacy] and thus internalized by minority women for generations, has supported and even bolstered the relevance of some products we still find today.

We also know that there is a systemic bias as well as a dearth of research, awareness, or advocacy from health professionals when it comes to caring for the black community especially for individuals that are black AND non-gender conforming and/or LGBTQIA. So, in the ways we can, it’s up to us to source our own solutions, take charge of our own health, go back to what our ancestors practiced and abandon what has been forced upon us from mainstream society.

Today, Barbara pays homage to her history and knows that the fruits of her labor are from the seeds planted by those before her. While advancements in science have made sourcing materials easier, to Barbara, we have to “be mindful and remember to come back to the ultimate and original source in order to be more conscious consumers.” For Barbara, being a conscious consumer in this way was necessary to save her life.

A health scare during her pregnancy lead Barbara to study green medicine and holistic plant botany. After recovering from her illness and delivering her daughter, Barbara created JACQ'S as a way to help inform women about the effects of toxins in beauty and bath products while creating products that focused on addressing real skincare concerns like hyperpigmentation, acne, and signs of aging. Launched in 2012, JACQ’S is a Green America certified business that’s Peta approved, cruelty-free, and an endorser of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

I got to speak with Barbara about her awakening, her favorite botanical ingredients, and the misconceptions about black skin that she wants to clear up right now.

Barbara Jacques, Founder and Creative Director of JACQ'S

S: What was the inspiration that led to your holistic lifestyle?

B: I was 3 weeks pregnant with a tumor. I thought I was healthy. I thought I was doing it all right: I had an eco-friendly car, I was thrift shopping, and I was a vegetarian. While I was doing all of those things, I was eating a lot of processed soy. I found out I had an excessive amount of estrogen, which was feeding the tumor. Whatever is physically wrong with you is heightened during pregnancy, and now I know I’m estrogen sensitive. I can’t say soy was the cause of it, but it did challenge me to critically inspect everything I was eating and using; from food and clothes to beauty. You could say that I had a mental and spiritual awakening. I refocused my life to live holistically and actively instead of re-actively. So, it all started by trying to find products that will heal, instead of harm my body.

S: I know you previously worked in the communications and thought you would have a career in the nonprofit space. Was switching careers to start JACQ’S also part of your awakening?

B: JACQ’S isn’t what I started out to do. I love to learn and read and when doing research about my health, I stumbled upon a medical journal paper about the systematic effects ingredients can have on your health and the toxic products the media is pushing specifically to black women. I remember a time when I was working in Nordstrom. I had a lot of makeup products because I had to combine so many to get what I was looking for. Here I was spending $80 on a foundation, but still had to deal with the harmful ingredients! I learned that a lot of skincare products mimic the estrogen hormone, which then forced me not only to ask questions but to then demand better products. But access to better quality products comes at a cost that isn’t equitable.

S: What does vegan-friendly mean to you?

B: I didn’t start as vegan friendly, but the more conscious I became, I knew I needed to model that in my life. Our culture is based on taking care of the earth and feeding off of it. This is the foundation of our healing. I remember when I was young, if I wasn’t feeling well I would have to bathe in leaves and drink this bitter ass tea. Now, “herbalism” is trendy and mainstream, but that has been a part of our culture. My granny’s tea is more than just tea… it’s knowledge. I’m culturally inspired to use Ayurvedic medicine, as a map to read and respond to different elements of your health internally.

S: How does all of this show up in your products?

B: I pull inspiration from my Caribbean heritage and from my surroundings here in South Florida. I have papaya, coconut, and mango trees in our back yard. I’m surrounded by all of these delicious ingredients. My facial toner is a tea that my Aunt used to make for me and it comes straight from my yard.

S: You say that black women are your inspiration, can you share more about that?

B: I see our bodies as living plants. When we wear our hair out, I feel like we are walking celestial beings. In that sense, If I’m feeding my plants dirty water, it’s not going to thrive. Just like plants, we need good food for our mind, body, and spirit.

S: All of your formulas include plant-based antioxidants, but what are your favorite botanical ingredients?

J: Right now I’m loving jack fruit, Echinacea which is great for your lymphatic system, as well as hibiscus, since it has four times the amount of Vitamin C, compared to oranges.

S: Getting funding is competitive for any entrepreneur, but especially black women. How did you get the financial support needed and what advice do you have for other black women trying to do the same?

B: I didn’t receive an investment or seed funding for JACQ’S. JACQ'S has been self-funded from the beginning, but I am looking to raise capital in other ways. This has been me and my hustle since day 1, complete with soap wrapping parties with family members and friends by my side. It is an honor to be a black woman right now – we are the most educated group in the world and we are creating businesses that are purpose-driven. We are opening our own doors our own windows even --- whatever it takes. I can’t wait to see what happens when the fruits of our labors are starting to manifest

S: What misconceptions about black and brown skincare do you want to clear up here and now for our readers?

B: Where do I start? A lot of people think that just because I’m black, my products are only for black women. JACQ’S sells skincare but our target audience is women of color. In regards to black skincare, people outside and within our community don’t believe we need to protect it from aging since “black don’t crack.” I know that skincare is achieved through body care. What is going on with you internally, will manifest on your skin. I can sell you great products, but if you don’t know the root causes of your breakouts, then it will likely come back. You’ve got to slow down and be present with yourself to understand what’s going on.

S: You won the 2019 Madame Noire Beauty Award, were named Miami's 2012 Top 40 Under 40 Leaders of Tomorrow, and received the Healings and Spas Lifestyle Beauty Award for Best Pregnancy Product. You've been featured in major publications like ELLE Magazine, NBC News, POPSUGAR, BUZZFEED, Mama Glow, Blavity, and now, OMNoire. What's next for JACQ's?

B: I’m taking this time to educate our community. I want to encourage sistah friends to re-examine their habits, un-plug, and practice mindfulness. I want to provide more than just skincare. I want to change the world and knock down barriers. We can do things and make changes in this world, and I want us to feel empowered to do that. I see JACQ’S as a thought leader in conscious consumerism. I see success as having more women of color that help pass laws to keep the beauty industry accountable. Success is more WOC having a voice in providing cleaner products for us. Ultimately, I want JACQ’S to be a household name globally, that's creating generational wealth and helping people of color to be advocates for change.

With code OmNoire15, you'll get 15% OFF JACQ'S products until August 31st, 2020! Not only that, but followers of both IG also accounts for OMNoire and JACQ’S will be entered to win JACQ'S in a Box gift set complete with a Healing Face Cleanser, Revitalizing Face Toner, Nourishing Moisturizer, Balancing Face Serum, Antioxidant Beauty Balm AND Clarifying Face Scrub + Masque valued at $250! Winner will be announced Friday, July 10th!

Glow Up!

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