Photo Credit: Black Girl Sunscreen Brand| Facebook
Meet Shontay Lundy: The Woman Behind The $5-Million Dollar Black Girl Sunscreen Brand
Thanks to pesky luggage restrictions and excess baggage fees, packing for any flight requires careful consideration akin to Sophie’s choice. Is this an absolute necessity? Do I really need those extra five pairs of pumps?
One item that should always make your final checklist is sunscreen. The options for Black skin have traditionally left much to be desired as well as a not so subtle chalky white cast. But in 2016 that all changed thanks to the innovative thinking of Shontay Lundy.
Lundy is the powerhouse businesswoman behind Black Girl Sunscreen, a sunscreen line formulated specifically for melanin skin. The seeds were planted after a move to Los Angeles, where the New York native found herself engaging in more outdoor activities but was less than impressed with the selections of sunscreen available.
“I created Black Girl Sunscreen because I was underwhelmed by the options for skin protection for women of color,” Lundy shared with Travel Noire. “As a woman of the sun with a darker complexion, healthy skin has always been a priority for me, and I knew that there had to be a solution to the lack of options. With this motivation, the journey began to find a solution eliminating white residue and making women of color feel great and look great in the sun.”
The idea sounded great in theory but first, Lundy needed to debunk the widely believed myth among Black people that melanin was a pseudo force field against sunburn. Not only is Black skin not exempt from sun damage, but people of color also tend to be diagnosed later for skin cancers thereby being dealt a worse prognosis and making it more difficult to treat. One study found an average five-year melanoma survival rate of only 67 percent in Black people compared to 92 percent in white people.
To change minds, Lundy knew she needed to educate the community on the benefits of sunscreen and clear up a few misconceptions.
“We created a market that did not exist before. Changing the mindset of a culture that did not believe in sunscreen was initially met with skepticism, but we were able to combat this by raising awareness about sun-induced harm such as sunspots, premature aging, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and cancer. We are all susceptible to damage caused by the sun.”
What was initially a risk has since paid off handsomely. Within the first three years, the company made $1 million in revenue. Business Insider reports that Black Girl Sunscreen is the only independent Black-owned line carried full time in the sun care section of over 200 Target stores. And after securing a $1 million dollar investment this past summer, the company is now worth an estimated $5 million.
Not bad for the young woman who started off with a 4 a.m. newspaper route at 15 before earning a bachelor’s and an MBA in business administration on her way to success in the corporate world.
The company has since expanded to include a kids line in 2019 and a recently launched matte formula. There’s still more bubbling in the pot, but Lundy is playing her cards close to the chest for now.
“Ooh, how I wish I could say,” she teased. “Just know that we have some great things in store. We hear our customers loud and clear!”
She was however more forthcoming with advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“Listen to your intuition! If it feels right, do it because no one else will do it for you. And it is perfectly okay to not have a plan!”