How This Founder’s Grandmother Inspired Her Entire Skincare Line — digitalundivided

“It’s crazy how life works,” says Arielle Brown, the founder of Bae’s Bayou Skincare. “When I was a little girl, I used to make products. I would blend all kinds of stuff. I would go outside and get flowers from the yard. I would steep them in tea, and then I would blend them with shampoo. It scratched my itch of curiosity and allowed me to be creative.”

Flash forward decades later, and Bae’s Bayou Skincare is a skincare company protecting skin health, microbiome, and your peace with proven products made from all-natural blends. By targeting the skin's microbiome, Bae’s Bayou Skincare supports people with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and other harsher skin conditions related to diet, stress, allergies, and environment. Still, Brown — who spent nine years as a social worker, never predicted she would become a scientist-entrepreneur in this space.

“I never knew that you could be a chemist. Even in high school, I loved organic chemistry. I went to a state rally in chemistry. I came out first in my city and second in the state in organic chemistry. I was like in eighth grade or ninth grade. It helped me win a little bit of money to go to college. But no one ever told me, ‘This is a career path. You could be this.’”

Read how this innate entrepreneur and STEM maven discovered her superpowers, how her products positively impact the everyday lives of those with hard-to-treat skin conditions, and why digitalundivided’s Breakthrough program gave her the tribe of women entrepreneurs she never knew she needed.

digitalundivided: What made you decide to start this company? What is your origin story?

Arielle Brown, Bae’s Bayou Skincare: When I was 13, I went to a dermatologist for seborrheic dermatitis. For a lot of people like myself, seborrheic dermatitis is not just itching or white-silver patches on the scalp. We also experience hyperpigmentation, thinning, or hair loss. I was prescribed some medicated shampoo and steroid cream. I didn’t like the cream. Later in my 20s, I went to a dermatologist again and pretty much was prescribed the same things.

In the summer of 2020, it was getting to the point where my hairline was very discolored. It was a mess. It was truly a mess. When I left my house, ran an errand, and got back home 20–30 minutes later, my scalp was all red and on fire.

I don’t know if my Grandma Bea heard me or who heard me on the other side, but something said, “Search how to use probiotics on your skin.” Several studies showed how probiotics can help acne, wounds, wrinkles, and eczema. So, I started a DIY for myself. Then a friend of mine with a daughter with similar scalp problems loved it and suggested I sell it. So, I started selling it on Etsy. That grew over a few months, and I realized I couldn’t do it DIY anymore. I decided to take it seriously, and that’s how I got started.

digitalundivided: What kinds of ingredients do you not necessarily see working in store-bought or prescription products? What elements in Bea’s Bayou Skincare make a difference in these conditions?

Arielle Brown, Bae’s Bayou Skincare: Household name brands sold on the shelf make all these claims. But they’re also not telling you that some ingredients can be harmful. I found many household brand name products–which I won’t say the brand I’m thinking of–but many of those products even have ingredients that are banned in other countries. The EU has higher standards for the cosmetic industry. I look to them often when I’m looking at our formulas, like, “Okay, is there anything in here that the EU says can cause sensitivities?”

I wanted something natural; I didn’t want a medicated product. I found that the medicated products only relieved me for that time. I needed to reuse it and reuse it and reuse it, adding layers to my skin. If I have to use something daily, I want to use something nourishing to my scalp. Not something that’s continuously putting a Band-Aid solution and not getting to the heart of the problem.

I love using prebiotics and probiotic extracts because they give me longer-term relief. I can wash my hair, apply my scalp solution and not itch for the week without reusing and reusing. It has nettle, which helps to stimulate my follicles. It has oregano which also helps to stimulate my follicles. It’s antioxidant. Our best seller has black walnut and clove, and lavender. All of these things help calm the skin fast — things like black walnut help to strengthen the skin’s natural defenses. So when I’m talking about the skin’s environment, I believe that our skin can do what it does naturally to fight the overgrowth of bacteria, the overgrowth of yeast. But if the pH isn’t right, if we’re using products that are bad for us, if we’re not drinking enough water, if we’re too stressed out, all these different things, we mess up the balance. And again, when you are highly sensitive to imbalances like I am, everything you put on your skin matters.

digitalundivided: Bea’s Bayou Skincare has an original namesake. Can you tell us a little bit more about the origins of your company’s name and how it helped shape your brand?

Arielle Brown, Bae’s Bayou Skincare: The “Bea” in Bea’s Bayou is short for Beatrice. It’s named after my grandmother because she lived in a Bayou community. There were rice fields and crawfish ponds and sugarcane fields, and gravel roads. I loved my childhood being around her house. Grandma Beatrice…. she was a cook, she was a baker. She made these most delicious pies. She was a maker. She also made herbal types of tinctures. Folks would come by her house all the time growing up. People would sometimes come to the house and buy her pies. Sometimes they would buy something for inflammation and their body. Our best-selling product at Bae’s Bayou Skincare is a scented product that smells like the herbs she used. We also offer other scents like berry, coconut, and praline because Grandma Bea made pralines.

Bae’s Bayou Skincare is a brand that is tied to our heritage. But Grandma Beatrice was a big influence. It made sense to name Bae’s Bayou Skincare after her. Naming the brand after her keeps me accountable.

digitalundivided: What was digitalundivided’s Breakthrough NOLA program experience like for you?

Arielle Brown, Bae’s Bayou Skincare: It was awesome because it was local. I hadn’t gotten a chance to do a local cohort before with all women. That was amazing. You could feel the alignment when you got a chance to be around them. We had a luncheon and dinner together — that energy was just bananas. And when you see what people are building, it aligns with who they are. That’s how passionate everyone is about what they’re doing.

We really dived into digital marketing and thought about being creative outside the box. Who are you talking to? Who is your primary target customer? Do they look like where they are from? What did they spend? What do they drive?

That was a really great exercise for me to hone in on who my audience is. Learning about some of the tools that are out there can help us with digital analytics, how to really use that data, and whether that’s in your marketing and communications, your social media, or whatever. I am really grateful that I got a chance to do that and to do it with other women locally. It was really, really fun.

Are you a Miami-based, early-stage founder looking to understand your customer better, grow marketing strategies, and gain networking opportunities to scale your venture? Apply to digitalundivided’s BREAKTHROUGH Miami program today! Each company accepted into the program will receive a $5,000 grant — applications close August 23rd, 2023.

[Editor’s note]: This interview has been lightly edited from its original transcription.