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Meet The SHEeo: Candera Thompson Of The Herbal-Infused Hair & Skin Line Bask & Bloom Essentials

"Do it afraid and unsure, everyone else is and are making fear look good."

Meet The SHEeo

With the rise of more and more black women breaking away from traditional 9-5s to become their own bosses, the CEO is getting a revamp as the SHEeo. In the Meet The SHEeo series, we talk to melanated mavens leveling up and glowing up, all while redefining what it means to be a boss.

Candera Thompson launched Bask & Bloom Essentials as a remedy to postpartum hair breakage and shedding. Using high-quality ingredients free from harsh chemicals and toxins, Bask & Bloom offers a full hair care line, including herbal infusions that protect against breakage while providing intense moisture. Within four years, the company has built a loyal customer base thanks to their wide range of product bundles that cater to various hair textures for a more simplified hair regimen.

Meet Candera Thompson of Bask & Bloom Essentials.

Photo courtesy of Candera Thompson

Title: CEO of Bask & Bloom Essentials

Year Founded: 2015

Location: Saint Louis, MO

# of Employees: 3

30-Second Pitch: Bask & Bloom Essentials is a rapidly growing brand in the hair and skin care industry serving all members of a household. We offer a full hair care line that includes herbal infusions to protect against breakage while providing intense moisture and our skin care line promotes a basic, 3-step regimen to maintain a natural glow.

What inspired you to start your brand? 

I was transitioning to natural after having my first daughter and experiencing lots of breaking and shedding. While some postpartum shedding is normal, I wanted to find a remedy once I got past that phase to strengthen my hair and give it a fuller look. A few ladies in a Natural Hair Facebook group I was in suggested black tea rinses and I started researching herbal teas that were beneficial for the hair. After trying and seeing some of the issues subside, I wanted to research further to add these ingredients into a line of hair care products.

What was your a-ha moment that brought your idea into reality? 

My a-ha moment came while on a vendor's website where I purchased my herbs from. They updated with how-to videos and a few of them showed how to infuse herbs into an oil or liquid extract. A light bulb went off, this is how I would include them into my products. After research and testing for a few months, I was more confident it bringing a line to market.

Who is your ideal customer?

[My ideal customers are] 24-45-year-old ingredient-conscious women seeking to solve issues with dry, brittle hair and sensitive skin. They are college educated with an annual income ranging from $60-$80k. They prefer access to a unique, full line of products and love being educated on different natural remedies for beauty through demos and tutorials.

What makes your business different? 

Seeing that we use unique herbs in our products, we spend a lot of time educating our audience on the multiple benefits of each ingredient. We create challenges that are unique to a group of customers to participate in that demonstrates overall healthier hair and skin and the end of that time period. We offer a range of bundles based on hair texture and solutions to make it easier for consumers to have a better regimen. This has allowed us to create a loyal base of customers who have shared our company to everyone they know, making them a believer in our brand also.

What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand? How were you able to overcome them? 

Funding, resources to effectively launch a beauty brand and great recommendations for manufacturers, time management with working a full-time job and being a mother. I saved a lot of my paycheck to put into my business so I had to become very frugal in the beginning to create excitement around my products and launch. I incorporated the mindset that "done is better than perfect" and if I can at least get started, the business will eventually fund itself. I decided against working with a manufacturer in the beginning to mass produce and instead had everything tested by a lab to ensure all ingredient levels were ideal for launch. As far as time management, I just had to say no to a lot as there is no such thing as balance. I built my brand to the point where I could leave my full-time job, even though I got laid off before I could resign.

"I incorporated the mindset that 'done is better than perfect' and if I can at least get started, the business will eventually fund itself."

What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey? 

When I got laid off from my full-time job, I was three months pregnant with my second child, planning to not return after I had her. At three months pregnant, many would've have been afraid to not have a steady paycheck but I took it as a sign. I got what I asked for and was preparing for even if it was premature.

Where have you seen the biggest return on investment? (i.e. marketing, ads, vending, social media)

Social media and email marketing and Facebook/IG ads.

Where do you see your company in 5-10 years? (The ultimate goal?)

On the shelves of big retail stores, international pop up shops to meet and greet customers, a few boutiques where customers can test products and get one-on-one recommendations and shop, launching a nonprofit program for teenage girls interested in entrepreneurship, making it to eight figures in revenue and investing into other black-owned beauty brands.

Biggest lesson you’ve learned in business? 

Do it afraid and unsure, everyone else is and are making fear look good.

For more of Candera and Bask & Bloom, follow her on social: Instagram.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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