As Rumbidzai Mangwende started to run out of makeup her freshman year in college she wasn’t quite sure what to do.

The then Loyola University Maryland student didn’t have time in her busy schedule to walk the several blocks to get to the store — not to mention it was in a part of town, the Homeland neighborhood, that Mangwende didn’t feel comfortable going alone. There also was a possibility the store wouldn’t even have the right color for her Black skin tone, too.

Frustrated with the lack of accessibility and options, the Randallstown native decided to start EthosSphere, an online beauty marketplace that sells a variety of skin care, makeup and hair products for women of color that will ship to your doorstep quickly. The name combines the Greek word “ethos” for belief and sphere, indicating that the mission of the business is global.

“I felt tired of going into places and having to go look at a tiny specific section,” said Mangwende, referring to how some stores separate products for people of color in sections labeled “ethnic.” “I just want our voices to be heard and to not be an afterthought.”

Mangwende said the goal for EthosSphere is for it to be the “ethnic version of Amazon.” She wants Black women to be able to take care of their beauty needs with ease and not feel marginalized while doing it. There already are several online marketplaces operated by people of color including Official Black Wall Street, HellaBlack and WeBuyBlack, among others.

When Mangwende tried to order beauty products from Amazon, she not only found the selection limited, but the language polarizing with the site referring to things being “for Black women” or referring to wigs as “afro wigs” with exaggerated photos of Black people.

So, in 2020, the Cornell University student decided to develop a website that could serve those needs. She then started reaching out to local beauty stores and entrepreneurs who might be interested in showcasing their products on EthosSphere.

One of those partnerships was with Jamilah Scott, who makes her own hair products for afro-textured hair.

Although Scott and Mangwende have been friends for a few years, the 21-year-old Reservoir Hill neighborhood resident saw this partnership as an opportunity to put Black women entrepreneurs at the forefront and provide more supply within the hair care market.

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“It’s all so dominated by larger corporations and those larger corporations don’t really genuinely appeal to or address Black hair,” Scott said.

As EthosSphere continues to grow, Scott said she believes it also will help expand her business, Locspa, beyond just Baltimore.

EthosSphere currently carries lip gloss and liners, wigs, shampoo and more. More than 10 businesses are working with the platform.

To date, EthosSphere has shipped to 40 states and generated more than $16,000 in sales over the past year.

While Mangwende knows it’s a drop in the bucket, she’s proud of how she’s been able to grow her business while balancing a full college course load and internships in the middle of a pandemic. She hopes this is just the beginning of her success and eventually she not only would like to be a top beauty products retailer but also the go-to source for what beauty products work best.

“Inclusivity is my biggest priority,” she said. “I want our voices to be heard.”

This article is part of our Newsmaker series, which profiles notable people in the Baltimore region who are having an impact in our diverse communities. If you’d like to suggest someone who should be profiled, please send their name and a short description of what they are doing to make a difference to: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Editor Kamau High at [email protected].

https://www.baltimoresun.com/features/newsmaker/bs-fe-newsmaker-beauty-product-rumbi-20220524-ffmpobjiever3oqgamfqv7z3ya-story.html