Black Business Spotlight: London Grant Co.
London Grant Co.
Tiffany Staten, Founder
When did you start your business and why?
I’ve struggled with hormonal challenges most of my life from a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The condition doesn’t have a cure or effective treatment, so as a result I have battled with severe adult-acne and infertility. My life was transformed when I became pregnant with my son in 2016 -- it’s also when I began taking inventory of what I put in and on my body.
I was unsatisfied with the products out there for mamas. Even the ones that were touted as being natural, all seemed to include synthetic and toxic ingredients. This all led me into a deep space of research which inspired me to create a batch of belly-loving, truly natural body butter.
What started as a small batch that I stored in a mason jar eventually became the London Grant signature, best-selling product, Cocoa & Jojoba Body Soufflé. When I delivered my baby without any stretch-marks, I knew that I’d developed something meaningful & effective.
Friends began trying micro-batches, made right in her Atlanta kitchen — sharing their stories of soothed eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, and irritation from sunburn & surgical scars. London Grant officially launched after I found the courage to walk away from my six-figure tech-consulting and talent development career.
I knew that there was a space for elevated essentials -- products that skip out on glittery trends to focus on purity and simplicity. I became impassioned about inspiring others to intentionally care for themselves and we take every opportunity to educate our community on clean, conscious consumerism.
Tell us about your business journey - the ups and downs, pivots and changes.
London Grant began as a creative outlet that meets solutions to a personal need. I never intended to start a company. In fact, my battles with ADHD, Dyslexia and major imposter syndrome almost stopped me countless times.
So, against the current trends of building fast and scaling faster, I took it slow with a series of micro-launches. Before we branded, I created a concise product supply and sold them through virtual pop-ups. In each iteration, we introduced new products and sold out faster and faster with each release until we’d built a significant buzz for the full product launch. This MVP approach gave me insight into my buyer and refined my go-to-market strategy.
Today, we are fully self-funded, which means that growth has been slow & organic. We’ve had to be intentional with spending at every point and run really lean since launch. As we continue to grow our retail partnerships, I’m excited to continue to reinvest in the business and expand our team to support our projected growth.
Shepherding a small business during a pandemic is by-far the largest challenge I’ve faced as a founder. We had to close our operations for a period of time, navigate daily struggles in supply chain, and balance it all with my toddler playing the role of coworker. Thankfully, we reopened with higher demand than we’d seen in the last year and experienced a tremendous increase in sales in Q2.
What challenges have you faced as a Black business owner?
One of the challenges I’ve faced in stewarding London Grant and in my personal life has been finding my voice within the Black community and making clear decisions about our target demographic. Even after our launch, I struggled with the question of who would be our primary buyer. Would she be Black, a Woman of Color, or simply a woman?
Growing up as a fair-skinned Black girl with green eyes, I experienced “the inbetween.” That space of identifying with a culture that doesn’t always know how to place you. It introduced questions of “blackness” -- walking the line so many of us experience where you hide parts of your culture and personality to appeal to your white friends & coworkers.
I was surprised when starting a products-based business reintroduced that balancing act. Would London Grant products be appealing to Black audiences? Did I need to alter the scents or branding to appeal to a white audience? Would white audiences connect with ingredients common (and deeply rooted in Black heritage) such as Shea & Cocoa Butter?
To find the answers, I leaned in and I went back to the start. I remembered that I began London Grant because I’m a Black woman who is prone to stretch-marks and hyperpigmentation. I made products for my Black mother who had sensitive skin and always sought out fragrance-free products. I made products for my husband, my son, my best friends, and my pregnant linesisters. So, I went back to my community. I decided that, while our products will always lead with a heart for all women, I would always consider my culture in everything that I create.
It became a journey of finding my voice; finding the voices of the London Grant community and unapologetically representing both.
What are some of your business goals?
Organic growth is the top line for London Grant. I use the term organic to emphasize that I wish to remain true to our foundation as a handcrafted brand while scaling our operations beyond the days of the one-woman-show.
I’m excited to broaden our customer reach through value-aligned retail partnerships. This creates accessibility for our existing customers while identifying new opportunities to reach “The London Girl.” I miss the days of our in-store retail partnerships with Madewell, West Elm & J.Crew. These were opportunities to meet our girl in person and better understand her needs. So we’re pivoting the approach a bit, but my eye is always set on well-aligned collaborations.
Another approach to growth is in our product expansion. While we constantly learn from our community, we’ve had new products in development for over a year. Our next release is highly anticipated and will expand on our core theme of elevated essentials. I’m excited to continue to broaden our collection and continue creating products you love and trust for years to come.
While achieving this growth, we hope to remain self-funded and invest in key areas like Marketing, SEO & Human Capital.
Who are some of your biggest Black influences in business?
My largest influences are the ones closest to home.
My earliest and most influential example of a woman in business was my mother. Growing up, she was a Director at North Carolina A&T State University, an HBCU in Greensboro, North Carolina. I have the most beautiful memories of joining her in the office in the Summers when her secretary was out. She’d bravely let me make copies and type letters on this giant electric typewriter. It was powerful to be that little girl seeing your mother shine in a professional setting. I feel honored to have experienced her grace as a leader and it’s inspiration I’ve carried throughout my life.
My next greatest influence, and ultimate support system as an entrepreneur has been my Husband, Bobby. A key reason why I pulled together the courage to take this leap was because I had his example right beside me every day. Bobby left his career in tech-consulting years before I did and started his own strategic & operational practice, Appleseed Consulting. Bobby always made me feel that I was more than capable and empowered. He understood the steep hill that every small business experiences in the beginning, and shared those learnings with me. We often joke about invoicing each other for time spent.
Beyond my close-to-heart heroes, I’m inspired by other small business owners and leaders forging their own paths. Artists like Morgan Harper Nichols, or Beatrice Feliu-Espada, the Founder of The Honey Pot, or Carolina Wanga of Essence -- and especially the countless mom-preneurs who are tasked with playing all of the seats during a pandemic.
Treat yourself to non-toxic skin care products from London Grant Co.