Belle Bar is a women owned and run beauty company led by Tianna Bell along with her sister Solange and mother Annette. They make organic, customizable skin and haircare for women of color using all natural ingredients to create products that are handmade to order. Their products feature ingredients you’ve actually heard of and help with hair damage, hair growth, and even clear skin. We chatted with Tianna Bell about how they got started, how New York plays into their business, and their all natural process.
Downtown: What was the impetus for this brand?
Tiana Bell: Our mission every day is to make green beauty accessible for women of color. We do that with the content we make, the products we create, and how we communicate with our customers. Our goal is to educate women of color on how to take care of themselves and how to reconnect with nature, which in turn will help them reconnect with themselves. We believe green beauty and wellness is a conduit for self-confidence.
Downtown: How did you all decide to go into business as a family?
TB: All we ever had was each other. It was natural for us to work together, as we already have each other’s trust and confidence. It was grace that we all happened to be good at different areas of the business, which made us a great founding team.
Downtown: What is different about a company catering to the WOC community?
TB: Most companies that create products for WOC communities are made up of teams not consisting of women of color. Truly catering to the WOC community means creating products that “do no harm,” it means using images and language that empowers, it means celebrating us. Not only is it important for our society to cater to marginalized communities, it is also good business as these communities, especially women of color, have strong purchasing power.
Downtown: How do you decide what goes into your products?
TB: Annette Bell, head of product development is in charge of deciding which all-natural ingredients go into our products. She is a self-taught herbalist and is obsessed with studying the benefits of flowers, herbs, fruits, plants, and vegetables. She typically goes through many rounds of testing before she settles on her final recipes.
Downtown: What even is a hair mask?!?
TB: A hair mask is essentially a deep conditioning treatment. What makes our hair masks different is that the treatment is made from dehydrated ingredients. Our masks need to be activated by a fresh ingredient such as a conditioner you already love or a complete all natural ingredient such as blended pumpkin, banana, or avocado. This allows our hair masks to truly be effective as they are customized for each customer.
Downtown: What’s it like working in New York?
TB: While my sister and I are first-generation Americans, my mother and rest of the family are from Trinidad & Tobago. New York is all about grit, hustle, competition, and dreaming. To make it here you have to have the drive to fight your way to the top. We were raised with that drive. Now we are using it to help others with our mission.
Downtown: What are a few of the ingredients your most excited about?
TB: Some of our favorite ingredients are: Neem (an herb that smells like a foot but is one of the most healing ingredients you will come across), Marshmallow Root (creates that ultimate “slip” all curly girls need to detangle and soften their hair), Chebe Powder, which we source straight from Africa (Chebe powder is traditionally made by different African tribes, primarily in Sudan and Chad, where women apply the powder to their hair with oil and never wash it out).