Mama Mentors is powered by Lincoln. Learn more about our partnership here. To us, our partnerships with brands are about so much more than business. We carve out relationships with brands whose values reflect our own and those of our members, and work together to thoughtfully tell stories and create experiences that speak to moms’ real lives and real interests.
Through projects like this one, HeyMama endeavors to enhance the professional success of our members by bridging the gap between those who have already arrived and the ones who are still on their way. We hope this journey will keep us all moving forward, just like Lincoln.
Nyakio Grieco, Founder of Nyakio Beauty, isn’t the type to get star struck. Having previously worked in Hollywood with actresses and celebrities, she’s no stranger to the fashion industry, how it is influenced by movie stars, and — most importantly — how it is lacking inclusivity.
“I loved the fashion and beauty aspect of Hollywood the most,” Grieco told HeyMama. “I also found that the continent of Africa was underrepresented in beauty, and I wanted to share the beauty, sophistication, powerful ingredients and timeless beauty rituals with all.”
Grieco’s grandmother was a Kenyan Coffee farmer who taught her her very first beauty secret: using Kenyan Coffee and sugarcane to exfoliate the skin. “I visited her for the first time at age 8 in Kenya. My grandfather was a medicine [man] who had the ability to go out in nature and extract oils to treat the skin, so I knew about the restorative power of these ingredients and wanted to create a brand to honor and celebrate them as well.”
Years later, in the early 2000s, Nyakio Beauty was born in Grieco’s apartment.
“I was shipping and receiving, customer service, the founder, accounting… all of the above,” she said. “I’ve had many stops and starts in my journey. I’ve raised for my business three times, which as a woman, as well as a Black woman, has had its challenges.”
One of those challenges included shutting down her business entirely — a heartbreaking but necessary step that made it possible for Grieco to find strategic partners that would eventually help her business thrive.
“It was one of the moments where you fall off the bike and have to get back on,” she said. “Ultimately, I found my next partners and I was able to scale the business quickly. In those hard moments often the next chapter is the best.”
That next chapter led to an incredible milestone for Nyakio Beauty — recently, Grieco launched her brand into her dream retailer: Target. “As a clean and premium skincare founder, I want my products to be accessible and affordable luxury. Target is committed to not only sharing more clean beauty but also honoring Black-owned and Black-founded brands.”
Those chapters — both difficult and monumental — have also propelled Grieco to joining HeyMama’s Mama Mentor program, powered by Lincoln. After 20 years as an entrepreneur and many ups and downs, Grieco knows that her learned knowledge can help the next generation of entrepreneurs, especially Black and brown business owners.
“I wanted to be a mentor, because I believe it to be one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in my life and I wanted to pay it forward,” Grieco said. “it’s very scary to see how many women are being forced to leave their jobs during this pandemic. I hope we can find a way to get women back to work.”
In September alone, over 865,000 women were pushed out of the workforce as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, a recent study found that men are three times more likely to be promoted during the public health crisis. The so-called first “female recession” will have a resounding impact on the careers of working moms and mom entrepreneurs. But if Grieco has learned anything in her 20 years as a Black woman business owner, it’s that one step backwards can absolutely be the beginning of many steps forward.
“I’m proud that despite any adversity I’ve ever faced, that I’ve stayed the course and never gave up on myself.”