Starting a clothing and jewelry brand can be intimidating, especially since there are over 1 million clothing and jewelry brands in the United States. However despite the naysayers telling her that the market is “over-saturated”, Deidre Robinson has founded her own clothing and jewelry business, while also managing to juggle a full-time 9-5 job. #boss
Mogul Millennial recently were able to connect with Deidre and we learned about her journey starting her company, Eumelanin and how she is using science and fashion to inspire a new generation of Black girls.
Tell us a little about what you do. I am a Chemist and the Creative and Founder/CEO of Eumelanin. During the day I work as an Environmental Scientist. After I clock out I am a full-fledged entrepreneur responsible for the creation and management of Eumelanin from the website to the apparel design.
How did you get to where you are today? I studied Chemistry as an undergraduate at Xavier University of Louisiana and obtained my Masters in Chemistry from the University of Detroit Mercy. While I engaged in rigorous studies I also took classes and participated in programs that grew my creative side from theater, dance, sculptor, jewelry design, and graphic arts.
How would you describe your brand? Eumelanin (pronounced: you- mel–a-nin) is manufactured and based in Detroit, MI. Eumelanin is the most abundant type of human melanin found in brown and black skin and hair. It is a clothing and jewelry brand designed, to celebrate and empower black and brown people around the world. Eumelanin is a clothing brand designed to redefine what it means to be beautiful in every shade; combining science, self-love, and style.
What inspired you to create Eumelanin? What inspired me to make Eumelanin were a few key things in my life. Growing up as a black girl, falling in love with chemistry, being told I was to bold and to dark and then falling completely in love with myself.
How has your life experience shaped you as an entrepreneur? I have always been a fearless and passionate person and I believe those two things are the foundation that my entrepreneur journey and experience is built upon. I am always trying to find ways to make worlds collide and that’s what Eumelanin is for me the combining of my scientific and creative sides. Further more Eumelanin addresses issues of colorism that I have experienced, and that black and brown people around the world experience. I wanted to create a brand that tackles this problem head on while still being true to who I am, my intelligence, my creativity, and my style. I have received so much clarity about who I am and what drives me on this journey of building Eumelanin. I am constantly reminding myself not to rush the process and be present in every moment.
What are some of the highlights and challenges since starting Eumelanin? Some of the highlights have been launching in March 2018 and pretty much selling out pre-orders within 6 hours. In September 2018 I won a 5K grant and obtained my first micro business loan as well. I am also set to launch in 3 Macy’s store in the U.S this March 2019 as I am approaching the 1 year mark for Eumelanin. Now the challenges, OH THE CHALLENGES! Working a full-time job while trying to build a business has been kicking my butt a lot of late nights, early mornings and little sleep. To this day I am still the only employee so I had to make really great partnerships with my apparel and jewelry manufacturers so I can focus on scaling the brand. And most importantly funding and financing your business has been a journey. I started Eumelanin with my savings, but it gets difficult balancing personal and business financial obligations. I learned a few things the hard way and it taught me how necessary it is to find a balance between pursuing your dreams and not putting yourself in bad financial situations because of your dream. I am still learning this especially when your passion is in the front seat.
How are you using your brand to inspire Black girls? Man so many things; firt I am a Black girl and as Black girls we are scrutinized twice as much about everything especially our looks such as our hair and skin tone. As a Black girl I want to inspire black girls to love themselves completely from who they are on the inside, but also what they look like on the outside.
How are you combining science and fashion to promote self-love? Eumelanin infuses the chemical structure of Melanin in its clothing and jewelry. We do it in a stylish and innovative way through design and our color palettes. The Eumelanin color palette is inspired by the beauty of melanated skin tones, it allows our customers to stylishly wear their values and boldly proclaim self-love of their blackness in a new way.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in the fashion industry (in particular those that want to solely offer products online)? Be you, be creative and bring something new to the table. No matter what people tell you there is space here for you. I want to emphasize the advantages of e-commerce and how it allows you test your product and designs with little to no overhead cost. I believe it’s one of the best ways to start. Also make sure to have a good marketing strategy across social media and internet platforms to help build your brand awareness and business traction. I think we underestimate how important marketing is with new businesses. And trademark your ideas!
What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career to date? Be authentic and genuinely bring who you are to the table you may have to compromise something’s but the purity of you really counts.
What’s on your reading/audio list right now? Becoming by Michelle Obama, and I just finished Children of Blood and Bone, which is amazing! I listen to a lot of podcast right now from Side Hustle Pro, How I Built This, and Myleik Taught You. I have been getting so much motivation and gems from entrepreneurs through podcast.
What advice would you give to your younger, teenage self? I would tell my teenage self to continue to be fearless, bold, outspoken and passionate. To be your true authentic self and but be prepared to accept the ramifications that come along with such truth and boldness. Don’t allow the world press itself into you, but push who you are into the world. To continue to work hard, trust the process and NEVER give up!