June 2020 Amber Grant Awarded to Nour
We’re happy to announce the $4,000 June Amber Grant recipient: Congratulations to Mae Abdelrahman, founder of Nour. Mae’s business becomes the seventh qualifier for the $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.
Nour is a line of tinted, mineral-based sunscreen designed for darker skin tones. You can learn how Mae is planning to breakthrough in the sunscreen industry — and more about her background — below.
WN: Describe Nour and the purpose it serves.
MA: Nour is built on the belief that all shades of skin deserve to be valued and protected equally.
Four years ago, after visiting a dermatologist, I learned that I should wear sunscreen on a daily basis to prevent skin concerns like melanoma, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and sun poisoning. My dermatologist debunked the myth that darker skin is naturally protected from the sun. Since then, I have been rigorously searching and unable to find a mineral-based sunscreen that looks good on me – because I am Black. The only tinted mineral sunscreens currently available on the market are shaded for fair skin tones, leaving people of color with extremely limited options.
Nour is a line of tinted, mineral-based sunscreens, made with melanin in mind. Nour will introduce three dark shades of mineral-based sunscreen that do not currently exist. This will allow Black people who want to have healthy, beautiful skin and are dissatisfied by the lack of sunscreen options available to them to add a product to their daily skin care routine.
I come from a long line of strong, Sudanese women who believe that health and beauty go hand-in-hand. Nour is my mother’s namesake. This skin care brand is a tribute to her dedication to raise Black daughters who would challenge norms and improve the lives of others. Nour seeks to empower minority and marginalized groups to create equity where it does not currently exist. Nour embodies female strength, Black power, and the fight for equity.
WN: What will differentiate your product from competitors?
MA: Historically, the skincare industry has not valued dark skin tones as much as fair ones. This is seen in the lack of products for, information about, and attention to the needs of skin of color. While the industry is beginning to evolve and become more inclusive, the sunscreen vertical has made little progress. Though every person, regardless of skin tone, should wear sunscreen on a daily basis, people with dark skin tones are extremely limited in their options.
There are two broad categories of sunscreens on the market – those with chemical active ingredients and those with mineral active ingredients. Sunscreens with chemical filters can be harmful to the skin and the environment. While mineral-based sunscreens are not harmful, they do leave an unpleasant white residue, or cast, on darker skin tones as the only tinted options currently available are shaded for lighter skin tones. Many people of color choose not to wear sunscreen because of the lack of options that apply flawlessly on their skin. Nour will solve this problem by bringing dark tinted mineral-based sunscreens to market, giving Black people an option to wear sunscreens that will be visually appealing.
WN: How are you planning to market the Nour brand?
MA: We believe all shades of skin should be protected and we are excited to build community among those often overlooked. Starting with Black women who have existing skin care routines, we are igniting the conversation around skin care products made with melanin in mind. We seek to develop Nour with the influence of our followers. We will meet our audience on social media and give individuals an opportunity to test our sunscreen, give feedback, and join us in determining the future of the brand. We want our community to feel proud that they are the ones to introduce Nour to their friends and will support this with a robust referral program to drive virality. We plan to start selling Nour direct-to-consumer and look forward to scaling to skin care aisles nationwide.
WN: What are some upcoming milestones for Nour?
MA: This is a very exciting time for Nour. We have a formulary partner who is dedicated to supporting us in developing our unique SPF formula for dark skin tones. To make the perfect sunscreen, we are currently administering consumer tests, meeting with dermatologists and skin experts, and speaking daily with women whose input shapes our product. Meanwhile, we are establishing our brand image and preparing to launch our website late summer and our waiting list soon after.
WN: Share some advice you’d give an aspiring female entrepreneur.
MA: Truly believe that you can run the business of your dreams. A few years ago, I dreamed of running my own skin care company, but I did not think I had the resources or knowledge necessary to actually start. Eventually, I decided to stop thinking I could not and to start taking steps toward my dream, and I have not looked back since. As long as you are willing to work extremely hard, think creatively, and ask others for help, you can accomplish your wildest dreams. Today is the best day to start. Figure out what you do not know and do the research to learn. Think about all aspects of your business, not just the parts that excite you most, and how they integrate into the big picture.
Build a network of people who care about your success and who will support you. When there are people in your corner, it is easier to have the confidence necessary to start a company and the motivation to keep going when things get hard. Share your idea with your network. We can often be too humble to mention that we are building a business or even afraid that someone will replicate our ideas. However, the benefits of communicating far outweigh any downsides. By sharing your idea and your goals, you open yourself up to introductions, serendipitous connections, and more. Allow your community to support you, refer you to others, and lift you up. Always remember to pay it forward and help others when they need someone to be the champion of their dreams.