Beauty debuted online at ahshibeauty.com on July 4, and pre-orders
begin shipping tomorrow, August 1. (Instagram @ah.shi.beauty
The word Ah-Shi is a
Navajo word. It means: This is me; this is mine.
To Ahsaki Báá
LaFrance-Chachere, wellness implies an integrity of self. As a half
Navajo and half African American woman, raised in Besh-Be-Toh on
the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona, she desired to see
more people of color represented in the luxury beauty market.
She created Ah-Shi
Beauty, her luxury skincare line, for two key reasons: 1) to
balance her skin with all-natural, botanical-based products,
and 2) to create a brand and space where people of color, and particularly
Native Americans, are not only represented but uplifted, encouraged
a dynamic understanding of the way health radiates from inside-out.
Ah-Shi Beauty is more than a skincare and beauty line; it's a mission
to "spread positive vibes" and encourage people of color to let
their beauty and power shine.
challenged her social media followers: "Take a picture and show
us what makes you unique. Show us your beautiful self."
"They went along with
it. I'll be giving every single one of my contestants who entered
[Ah-Shi Beauty] gifts, because they deserve it," she said. "They're
on board with my mission and the concept of my brand.
"From what I know so
far, no Native-owned luxury skincare line exists. I want this line
to be in Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, and Harvey Nichols overseas.
I feel like people may not see Native people as luxury. But if you
look at our beadwork, our silversmith work, our rugsthose
are luxury. Our homeland is luxury. I want to make that statement:
We, too, are luxury," LaFrance-Chachere said.
"Luxury is about more
than being glamorous in the city. Luxury is us, too, as Native people,
and us, too, as Western people. We need to be recognized as luxury,"
Báá LaFrance-Chachere (Courtesy Ah-Shi Beauty)
no stranger to entrepreneurship. In February 2016, she launched
Four Arrows, shopfourarrows.com,
creating western-style leather boots for rodeo hands.
While growing her boots
and western clothing business, she researched skincare on the side.
"Honestly, I've been
dealing with my own skincare issues, and I've been very passionate
about [the best] skincare. A lot of women and men are battling their
skincare issues. I thought, let me dig deep, and see what I can
do to help myself and others," LaFrance-Chachere said.
The skincare business
involves extensive research and fees, so LaFrance-Chachere saved
her own money for startup capital, setting aside every penny over
the course of four years. Putting $200-400 aside monthly, she began
production of Ah-Shi Beauty with $15,000 in the bank. "I didn't
take out any loans," she shared.
But before diving into
research and development in the lab, LaFrance-Chachere experimented
with a variety of skin cleansers, toners, moisturizers and every
popular product on the marketfrom low-end to high-end. Dior
to Proactiv, LaFrance-Chachere has tried it. Some products worked
well; others dried her skin out.
to concentrate her skincare line on natural ingredients and balance.
She and her business partner, her former Arizona State University
chemistry classmate, eschewed harsh chemicals in favor of botanical
Her skincare collaborator,
who specializes in pharmaceuticals, broke down the chemistry in
layman's terms for LaFrance-Chachere, helping her to understand
how the combination of various extractions of botanicals and plants
influence one another.
"Each ingredient can
be enhanced by another," shared LaFrance-Chachere, who has become
quite the alchemist herself.
extracts that rebalance your skin. We wanted this to be simple and
not complicated, because life is already complicated enough," she
underscored how finding balance in one aspect of life naturally
affects another. "Balance in skincare is connected to your health,
mental health and overall well-being. I'm trying to balance my whole
world," she said.
When her skincare formula
was ready, and a Toronto-based manufacturer secured, she built her
e-commerce site on Squarespace. "It was easy to learn," she said
of the platform.
to have an Amazon account up and rolling by next week. "Eventually
I want to be in high-end retail stores. But for the meantime, e-commerce
is my best friend," she said.
She also intends to put
her products in smaller retail shops, starting with the Navajo Reservation,
"so that people who don't have Internet access, or who like to go
to the store nearby, can also have access to my skincare line,"
a Navajo woman on a clear path. She has a vision for where she is
headedand she's supporting fellow people of color along the
"In five years, I see
Ah-Shi Beauty in high-end stores across the United States with Native
models and colored models as our main focus point. In 10 years,
I see Ah-Shi Beauty as internationally known. In return, I want
to create a scholarship for my Native American and African American
people, or anybody of color. I want to give back soon," LaFrance-Chachere
said. "I want to create jobs for my peopleon the reservation,
off the reservation. I am building an empire to represent myself,
my family and my people."
But the ambitious Navajo
entrepreneur is just getting started. "I plan to launch a cosmetic
line with makeup in 2019," she added.
Eventually, she also
wants to create a business-casual clothing line, "like Vera Wang
for boss babes" with prices like Express. "For now, I'm concentrating
on Ah-Shi Beauty."