While away on a vacation, one of the last things you want to deal with is an exhaustive search for products to fix a bad hair day. So when Orion Brown found herself in Japan “dealing with a major miscalculation of weather and a head full of hair with no hope,” she turned her annoyance into opportunity.
“I didn’t have enough product to get me through the trip and there was nowhere locally I could find the products I needed,” said Brown. “Dejected, I avoided the selfies and made the best of it. But upon reflection, I could only hope that someone would make (or would have made) a product company for travelers like me. There weren’t. So I created The Black Travel Box.”
The Black Travel Box provides travel size hair and skin products for people of color delivered to your door when you want. The product line includes a conditioner bar, hair balm, body balm, and lip balm.
“They say that necessity is the mother of invention,” said Brown. “Well, there’s no greater necessity for me than the “necessities” of travel when on vacation. We’re not a typical subscription box company. Our ‘subscribe and save’ model is similar to Amazon’s, where customers can choose products they know and trust, and then select a personalized schedule for receiving them right to their door. Subscribing is optional, but offers savings over one-time purchases, its flexible, and it can be canceled anytime.”
With a background in consumer goods marketing and brand management, Brown leveraged her lessons learned, while working in corporate to build her business model and test the market for the products and service before launching it.
“The Black Travel Box could not be where it is today without that working experience,” said Brown. “While I’m still learning the ropes of entrepreneurship, the corporate experience of building and maintaining brands is exceptionally relevant here, particularly as we come into a personal care space that is both vast and nonexistent.”
For instance, according to a Nielsen study, “African Americans have cornered the ethnic hair and beauty market, ringing up $54 million of the $63 million total industry spent in 2017. Black shoppers spent $473 million in total hair care (a $4.2 billion industry) and made other significant investments in personal appearance products, such as grooming aids ($127 million out of $889 million) and skin care preparations ($465 million out of $3 billion).” Plus, according to data from Mandala Research, black Americans spend $48 billion each year traveling and are among the fastest growing segments in the U.S., with 68% surveyed wanting to learn more about their history and culture through travel.
Travelers of color who want to look and feel their best when traveling abroad are the primary consumers of the Black Travel Box.
“They take photos, selfies, and love to share their experiences,” said Brown. “They are avid social media consumers and content makers. While they travel far and fairly often, the challenge of easily getting their look “just right” hasn’t yet been met. They compromise on the products that they bring along, spending time filling travel sized bottles with their favorite products, purchasing “basic” skin and hair care ingredients abroad, or struggling to make what’s available to them work for their unique needs.”
Perhaps the biggest appeal of the Black Travel Box is the sense of community it provides for black travelers.
“I started The Black Travel Box to give women of color a brand they could trust for all their travel personal care needs,” said Brown. “Globally, Black travelers have few if any places they can go to find personal care products that work for their hair and skincare needs. As the culture of international travel continues to grow in our community more and more of us are exploring the world with a level of freedom and wanderlust that our parents and grandparents could never dream of. Our brand is here to help these millennial explorers travel in confidence (we call it #TravelInColor) knowing they have the products to put their best foot forward and rock those selfies in Croatia, London, China… or where ever their travels may take them.”