Welcome to our podcast, Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr. Think of it as your direct line to the designers, stylists, beauty experts, editors, and tastemakers who are shaping the fashion-and-beauty world. Subscribe to Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Nyakio Grieco wears many different hats. She got her start in the beauty world back in 2002 when she launched her eponymous beauty line, Nyakio Beauty, which focuses on using African skincare secrets passed down from generations in her family. The line of cult-favorite products is available at Target stores across the country and online.
On top of running her massively successful brand, Grieco launched Thirteen Lune in 2020 alongside Patrick Herning. It's an online beauty destination that highlights Black- and Brown-founded brands. In fact, 90% of the brands featured on Thirteen Lune's site are BIPOC-founded and meant for all consumers.
Grieco also co-hosts (with Melissa Magsaysay) The Beauty Vanguard, a podcast that goes beyond skin-deep to explore the cultural significance of beauty.
Listen to Grieco share how she started Thirteen Lune, the process for discovering brands to share on the site, and some of her favorite BIPOC-founded products that she can't live without in the latest episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr.
For some excerpts from her interview, scroll below.
Could you explain a little bit about the impetus behind Thirteen Lune?
I've had a beauty brand for 20 years, and when 2020 happened to all of us—whether it be the global pandemic or the pandemic of systemic racism really hitting the most heightened moment of our lifetime—like so many others, I was shocked to the bone. As a result of everything that was happening after the murder of George Floyd, I found myself and the Nyakio Beauty brand showing up on all of the lists. You know, "Top Black-Owned, Black-Founded Beauty Brands to Follow to Watch to Shop."
While it was such a huge honor to have that recognition—and honestly the first time that I had ever had that sort of visibility even after having a brand for 18 years—it was built on the precipice of such a hard time.
I was having a hard time just getting out of bed and thinking about my children's future and the future of this world. I thought that we were in the clear after having a Black president, and it was almost like the world just had to look a lot different, and so as opposed to remaining immobilized, I decided to take my pain and turn it into purpose.
I just started chopping these lists. I would go through and go down rabbit holes of their Instagram pages and their beautiful websites, doing all this research on these founders. There were these other initiatives like the 15% Pledge and Pull Up for Change—beautiful initiatives—also being born out of the summer of 2020.
In my mind, when I would look at those lists that I appeared on alongside 200, 300, sometimes 400 other Black-owned, Black-founded beauty brands, I thought to myself, Why has nobody ever thought about opening a store where the majority of the products were made by people of color?
But not only them, that we also had allies and other brands to show true inclusivity. I was also getting a lot of DMs from people saying, "I just discovered your brand Nyakio Beauty at Target, but can I use it on my skin? I don't look like you." I also felt it was my personal calling to do some myth-busting, which is, I, as a Black woman, my whole life have been using products made by people that don't look like me, and they work on my skin, and they work on my hair and the makeup shades.
I thought, Gosh, if a few people are asking me this on DM, this feels like a much bigger opportunity to solve for some miseducation.
I'm curious about your process for finding brands for Thirteen Lune? How did that sort of matchmaking process work?
We started with 13 Black-owned brands. That curation process really came from a combination of brands that I loved that I read about during my deep-dive process as well as brands that Janelle [Freeman] had a relationship to, brands that Patrick [Herning] had relationships to.
That's how we got to our original 13. We now have over 115 brands on the platform and in our stores. That curation comes in many different ways. Obviously, stemming from Janelle [Freeman] and her now team that go through and vet the products. They have to be nontoxic, Black- and Brown-founded, and products that everyone can use.
There are a lot of platforms out there that are Black for Black and Brown for Brown that are much needed and beautiful and amazing platforms, but a very specific audience. We wanted everybody to feel welcome to shop Thirteen Lune. A lot of our brands find us. We have email [email protected] that people can submit.
What I love so much—and talk about allyship—is so many of my friends, editors, experts have emailed me and said, "Oh my gosh, I met this wonderful person, and they have this brand." Then we connect and then connect them to the buying team. It really is this organic process of building this family.
I also really love Thirteen Lune's Instagram. I get such a kick out of it. I love the swap stories, in particular. I'm going to name a particular skincare or beauty item, and you tell me a product on Thirteen Lune that our audience should try. Let's start with something very universal: shampoo.
Charlotte Mensah's Manketti shampoo. First of all, it smells divine. Charlotte Mensah is an incredible celebrity hairstylist in the UK. All of her products are divine. Amazing. So that would be my perfect BIPOC swap.
Tell me about some of your other everyday essentials. Anything that's always in your bag or always on that top shelf?
Macabalm by our Chilean Australian founder, an amazing woman named Pia [Whitesell]. She really went to her Chilean and her Australian roots to develop this Macabalm. I use it on everything.
What I love is it comes in three different sizes on Thirteen Lune. I have my big tub that I carry in my big purse. I have the little ones that I put in my kids' backpacks because it's all clean and natural and good-for-you ingredients, but it uses Australian macadamia.
I use it on elbows, heels, lips. I've used it as my primer when my skin has been super dry. Macabalm is like, I feel like we're gonna make it the new Papaw cream.
What about a body oil? Something we all need right now.
The Liha Beauty Idan Oil. It smells like summertime. It comes in this solid form. When you put it into your hands, it melts into this delicious oil. It reminds me of an updated Bain de Soleil fragrance, but it's all-natural and beautiful and great. It's like tuberosa and coconut oil. It's so yummy.