Note from BW of Brazil: With Brazil’s long time practice of ignoring its large black population in areas too numerous to name (many covered on this blog), many black Brazilians are taking matters into their own hands and providing goods and services to this vastly under-served population. Various articles on this blog deal with Afro-Brazilians entering the entrepreneurial arena and the women of the Prapreta (meaning “for black women”) site are yet another example of two people who decided to “just do it.”
Prapreta offers specialized products and visual identification to consumers
by Fabiano Candido with Giulia Longhi
“Why should I go to a website where everyone has straight hair to buy my beauty products?” That was the question that Carolina Lima, 27, a founding member of the Prapreta site, an e–commerce site geared totally toward black women made when she thought about opening a business.
She presented the idea to her friend Alana Lourenço, 26, who had already identified online commerce as a promising market. Alana then became a partner of Carolina. The two met while still in majoring in Journalism in 2008. And in 2011, they decided to set up the business together.
The niche was defined based on the needs of Carolina, who rummaged through several e-commerces to find specific products for black women. From June 2012 to January 2013, the duo sought free guidance from Sebrae (1) in São Paulo to structure the business plan. With a loan from the Banco do Povo Paulista (BPP or Paulista People’s Bank) and their own investments, they have invested about R$15,000 (US$6,880) to create the sales site.
Online air since the end of July of this year, the site has complete lines of products for kinky/curly, curly hair, for straightening or megahair (weave), for prices ranging from R$17 (US$7.80) to R$70 (US$32). Suppliers near the region of São Paulo facilitate so that the stock is reduced. As neither of the young women had worked in the field of cosmetics and beauty, they sought help to understand the products: “We participated in a workshop given to hairstylists, within the brands, to know how to guide our consumers,” says Carolina. Today, the site seeks partnerships with bloggers, white women and black women that test and make evaluations of their products.
One of the strategies used to quickly come to the public was prior outreach in the social networks. To do this, the young women created a fan page on Facebook for the brand that advertised content related to the universe of black women. A way that they found to get closer to the public was to help women who are in the phase of “transition” of their hair – from artificial straightening to natural kinky/curly. “Until the hair gets truly kinky/curly hair is actually a process of patience that messes with self-esteem a lot. Half of the hair straight, half of the hair kinky/curly is a little annoying, but we show that there is always has a way to do it,” says Carolina.
Although Carolina is black and Alana white (2), throughout the process, the partners were aware and concerned about the identity of black women with Prapreta. They thought about colors and patterns, and developed a visual identity in line with the theme. Carolina says that “when they handed the site over to us, in the Fale Conosco (Contact Us) part, there was a white girl with a headset on head head. We asked to change it and the guy said it was a small detail. In fact it is small, but it’s part of the project. Now it’s a black girl,” says Carolina.
Besides all the lines of hair products, the duo’s next step is to find a makeup representative that meets the needs of the site’s consumers. The obstacle is that some of the brands that don’t allow the resale by the system of e-commerce.
1. SEBRAE – Sebrae is part of a system created in 1972 – the Centro Brasileiro de Apoio à Pequena e Média Empresa (Brazilian Center for Support to Small and Medium Enterprise or Cebrae) linked to the Federal Government. Since 1990, the organization became an autonomous social service denominated Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas – Sebrae or Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises. Formally, it is a civil nonprofit, created by Law No. 8029 on April 12, 1990, regulated by Decree No. 99.570, of October 9, 1990, subsequently amended by Law No. 8154 of December 28,1990. Source
2. Although the author of the article defined Alana as “branca” or white, in a chance meeting with the young woman, who bears a striking resemblance to American actress Rosario Dawson, she confirmed that she indeed identifies herself as a mulher negra, or black woman. In Brazil, persons of lighter skin tones, even having features that denote non-European ancestry, are often defined or define themselves as “brancas”.
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