Tuesday, April 7

Alum blends acne-fighting, natural skin care products that cater to people of color

UCLA alumna Jamika Martin runs ROSEN Skincare, her original skin care line. She founded the brand as a second-year student with the aim of using natural ingredients for acne treatment. (Anna Moreno-Takegami/Daily Bruin)

Jamika Martin founded her own skin care line to combine two prominent beauty trends she doesn’t often see working together: natural skin care and acne treatment.

“There’s a lot of brands out there for acne and there’s a lot of brands out there that are natural, but there’s very few that do both,” the UCLA alumna said.

Martin came up with the idea for ROSEN Skincare in January of 2016, during her second year at UCLA. She has continued to grow the brand ever since, with the goal of creating natural products for acne-prone skin. As someone who has struggled with difficult skin herself, Martin said she hopes to instill confidence in her customers.

She decided on the name ROSEN with the help from a classmate while enrolled in Economics 106E: “Economics of Entrepreneurship” at UCLA. She originally named her company Rose Gold Cosmetics, but after switching her brand’s focus to natural skin care, she decided on the name ROSEN by merging her middle name, Rose, and the letter “N” for “naturals.” She initially began by selling only one or two products a month through boutiques in her hometown of Paso Robles, California, before creating a website and selling her products online.

Martin’s apartment serves as the hub for her company. So far, Martin has overseen nearly every step of the company’s production – she orders raw ingredients from online suppliers to her apartment, makes the formulas by hand, packages the orders and then ships the products to customers.

Martin said she aims to keep her products affordable because she noticed that most natural products on the market come with unreasonably high price tags. To cut expenses, she orders raw ingredients, such as tea tree oil and bentonite clay, in bulk and mixes the products herself.

“It’s just single ingredients … it’s not blended, it’s not synthetic, nothing that’s gone through chemical processes,” Martin said. “They come from natural sources.”

Martin said social media marketing plays an important role in her brand’s business strategy, and she tries to feature photos of customers’ results online as much as possible. She usually tries to post on the brand’s Instagram page once or twice a day and upload an Instagram story two or three times a week.

Jess Joswick, a branding expert who has collaborated with Martin in the past, said Martin’s own experiences with acne and skin difficulties have shaped her story as an entrepreneur. Martin continues to incorporate her own anecdotes into her brand’s website, social media pages and newsletters, conveying to her customers that she once used to be the consumer who searched for the ideal skin care products.

Martin often seeks feedback from her customers through surveys and polls on her Instagram stories. She once asked her customers if they preferred ROSEN’s products for acne treatment or for glowing skin and found that most of her customers were more interested in the items targeting acne.

Martin said she features diverse influencers and models on her brand’s social media platforms to emphasize the importance of representation in the beauty industry. Fighting for the inclusion of people of color in the makeup and skin care world keeps her motivated, she said.

Being a black woman founder and how young I am, that is something that is not seen a lot … so that’s definitely important to me,” Martin said.

Alexa Binns, who met Martin through a fellow UCLA aluma, said Martin caters to customers in a very inclusive manner by considering the skin concerns of people of color. For example, Binns said Martin keeps in mind that people of color tend to be more susceptible to acne scarring, and tailors some of her products to that demographic.

“(Martin) has got a very modern and genuine approach to what it means to be multicultural … through the models that she uses in her social media content, even in the customer challenges that she’s addressing,” Binns said.

Just before she graduated from UCLA, Martin said she reflected on some notes she had written when ROSEN Skincare was merely an idea. Martin once wrote that she doesn’t plan on dedicating most of her time to the company and would rather focus on school. As graduation approached, she realized that her passion for skin care had grown and wanted to dedicate the rest of her time to helping her customers gain confidence in their skin.

“Hitting your goals, hitting your milestones is super cool, but when you have people genuinely reach out about how much you have impacted them secondhand,” Martin said. “That’s definitely a huge motivator.”

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