April 24, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Nicole Brown’s Brown Sugar Box Is The Subscription We Always Knew We Needed

If we’re honest, there aren’t enough beauty brands that are created with Black women in mind. Nicole Brown, founder of Izzy and Liv, launched the Brown Sugar Box to cater to the need and wants of women of color. I had an amazing conversation with Brown on the inspiration behind the box, how it’s evolved into a movement, and how she balances it all.

“The Brown Sugar Box is an extension of my brand, Izzy and Liv, which I launched four years ago. The purpose of that was to have a brand that celebrated Black women, the things that we love, and the things that you know as a Black woman was made with you in mind as a first thought and not an afterthought. As that brand grew, in 2017, I launched the Brown Sugar Box. My subscribers call it ‘Black Girl Magic’ in a box.”

Beyond A Box

And that’s certainly a fitting description for it. The Brown Sugar Box is an endless subscription and features a t-shirt, and a handful of items that are typically related to a special theme. But there’s always one common theme – to remind Black women to practice self-care and treat themselves. The Brown Sugar Box also includes an additional product from a fellow Black-owned business. Considering the amount of support Brown has shown for others, it only makes sense that her Brown Sugar Box subscribers take note and develop friendships together. Still, even Brown didn’t know the box would take on a life of its own.

“It’s just been amazing to see the growth [between subscribers],” added Brown. “They didn’t know each other and now because of this box they meet up every month. Some of our subscribers have gone on cruises together. I love it. It’s amazing, and it’s not even something I thought would happen. It just happened organically. So now I say we’re not just a box group, we’re a sisterhood. I really want to continue to cultivate that and support that sisterhood outside of the box.”


She added that it’s our shared experiences as Black women that she believes serves as a factor for the success and growing relationships of the Brown Sugar Box. In fact, it was a box like this that Brown said was needed to bring women of color together even more. She revealed that in 2002 she created a social networking website. She hoped to find a quality site that would help her connect with women who looked like her. Unfortunately, there weren’t many she could pull from, so she created one herself, all while working in corporate America. After leaving that position, she took on more side hustles until she saw that there was still a need for a brand that “put us first as far as commerce.”

“I always noticed that a company avatar and core target was not someone that looked like me. That meant that the products that those brands were making, were not made with me in mind first. That doesn’t mean that I don’t buy them or other brands that don’t put us first. But it’s nice to have a brand where you know that the intention is to serve you. And so that’s why I created Izzy & Liv.”

It’s undeniable that Brown was on the right path as her brand brought in $5.88 million in gross sales in 2018.

“To say it sounds crazy. But yes, it hit $5.8 million. The year before I was at $2.7 million. So I’ve been growing and it’s just amazing. I started off doing this on my laptop, children running around everywhere, outsourcing… and now I have an office. I’m employing full-time employees that look like me and it’s continuing to grow. That’s just a blessing. And my kids get to see that, especially my daughter.”

She explained that Izzy & Liv are actually named after her daughters, giving them the opportunity to see their names over the office door.

Through entrepreneurship, motherhood and marriage, Brown said she’s finally found the secret about balance. And the secret is that it doesn’t exist.

“I don’t balance,” said Brown. “I call it a juggle. Because when you think about it, a balance means that you’re splitting 100 percent and you’re splitting it equally. Which means that the different things in your life aren’t getting 100 percent. And that’s not true. So I’ve let go of the pursuit of balance because I’ve realized that it doesn’t exist. So I try to juggle and keep the balls up in the air and whatever ball I have in my hand at that time is the one that needs possibly most of my attention in that moment. And I try to do it in that moment while making sure the other balls don’t hit the ground. It’s a juggling act versus a balancing act.”

“I struggle with not giving as much time to myself and putting myself last. I have four kids, I have employees, and now I’m responsible for their livelihood. So I struggle with that all the time. I’m not a guru but I would say cut yourself some slack and give your attention to whatever needs your attention in the moment. “

In the meantime, Brown definitely makes it look effortless!

Check out more at IzzyandLiv.com!



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