Insider Intelligence spoke with Dorian Morris, founder and CEO of Undefined, a wellness brand focused on providing consumers with plant-based and affordable beauty products. Undefined is carried by retailers including Target and Whole Foods Market with the hopes of “democratizing beauty” for all.
Insider Intelligence: How is expanding omnichannel offerings with large retailers part of your growth strategy?
Dorian Morris: I always thought that Undefined was going to be omnichannel, as there is a benefit to having a brick-and-mortar experience. The retail distribution is the billboard. My retail partnerships are an extension of my overall marketing and brand-building strategy.
With Black Lives Matter, a lot of retailers want to carry Black-owned brands because that's going to make them look better. But I am interested in partners who are being thoughtful in their strategy and solving the pinch points that indie brands face—not just using Black-owned brands as a marketing strategy.
With the Whole Foods launch, I was a bit nervous because it was the first time a brand was incorporating diverse illustrations at a large retail channel, and most of the shoppers are white women. I was hesitant that customers were going to come up to the shelf, not see themselves represented, and walk away. I realized though that as a Black woman, I have never seen myself represented in the products I purchase, but I still buy them.
II: What is the role of social commerce in reaching new consumers?
DM: TikTok, specifically for the beauty and ingestibles market, is a very powerful platform that I hope to enter soon. Within social commerce, there are interesting platforms popping up like Flip which are essentially if TikTok and Amazon had a baby. Flip is trying to figure out how to monetize the social commerce aspect. Another platform is Supergreat, which is helping small micro-influencers build their content strategy in line with specific brands. Once TikTok figures out how to monetize the live selling element, it is going to be a powerful way for brands to reach new consumers.
I think about Madam C.J. Walker, who was the first female, Black self-made millionaire in the early 1900s, when Black women definitely didn't have rights. She was able to start her empire with word-of-mouth and door to door, like Mary Kay before there was a Mary Kay. As you think about the power of people, it is the same thing we see in social commerce today. It's people tapping into their community and being an amplifier that can help from a business standpoint.
II: How can brands improve their strategy in the coming years to be more inclusive?
DM: A lot of brands and companies are more inclusive now by having a Black model in their marketing campaigns. But the power is in the supply chain and making sure that bigger companies are investing in minority-owned businesses, as their suppliers and/or building out in teams.
For example, I was an early employee at Kendo, which was a division of Sephora at the time, making brands like Marc Jacobs, Kat Von D, etc. and was one of the few black employees at the time. It’s important to build a diverse team—and diversity not just in race/ethnicity but also perspective—and it’s equally important to build an ecosystem to support these diverse voices so folks feel comfortable sharing their POV.
From the supply chain side, Black women are one of the largest and fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs. That can be extremely powerful if it's internalized in these larger structures and corporations like L’Oreal. That is the golden ticket to changing the shape of Black business—investing from a supply chain side with minority-owned businesses.