Just B just launched and it’s already creating a lot of buzz in the beauty world. Customizable, personal, and inclusive, Co-Founders Bina Khan and Madiha Chan were inspired to create a beauty brand that encourages women to ‘just be’ themselves.
From overcoming pandemic challenges and cultural norms, we caught up with the South Asian duo to discover the story behind Just B — a love letter to desi women.
ForceBrands: What is the elevator pitch for Just B?
Bina Khan and Madiha Chan: Just B is a cosmetics brand created by a South Asian makeup artist and a tech entrepreneur duo, focused on creating high-performing, customizable and eco-conscious products that celebrate the beauty of brown skin, inspire creativity and spark delight.
FB: Congrats on the brand launch this October! Why did you decide to focus primarily on the United States and Pakistan as your starting markets, and what does your distribution strategy look like?
BK + MC: We chose to launch the brand in both the U.S. and Pakistan as we both grew up in Pakistan and saw a true need for these products among our South Asian community. While Co-Founder Bina splits her time between Pakistan and the U.K. now, Co-Founder Madiha lives full-time in California’s Silicon Valley and therefore wanted to make the products available to South Asian Americans as well. We are completely DTC at this time via our website.
FB: You’re both from South Asia. How has this influenced the brand story?
BK + MC: Growing up in Pakistan, we saw and experienced lots of external and internal pressure, particularly as women in our culture. There is pressure to be successful, be married, be a mother… the list goes on. Not to mention the pressure to be fair, skinny, and perfect in every dimension. When creating Just B, we wanted to create products that allow the natural beauty of women to shine through. We were frustrated with the lack of cosmetics on the market that could enhance and adapt to brown skin, so we decided to create the products ourselves. We wanted our products to be a celebration of their face. And, finally, we wanted our products to tell our consumers that we see you, we embrace you, and we invite you to ‘just be’ yourself.
FB: Customization is a sweeping trend among consumer brands that experts are predicting will define the future of the space. Why did you decide to take a customized approach to Just B products?
BK + MC: Firstly, we wanted to provide additional value to our customers and allow them to create multiple looks with just one product. Secondly, we know that there are so many beautiful ranges of skin tones in the world so we wanted to give users dual textures and two colors that allow them to create multiple finishes and customize different shades. Finally, we always want to be innovative and ahead of what other brands are doing — we want to continue to innovate and wow our consumers and do something that no one has ever done before.
FB: Speaking of trends, sustainability is also on the rise and has been a buzzword in the beauty industry in recent years. In what ways are Just B products sustainable and why is it important to you?
BK + MC: Just B’s Lip Spectrum is packaged in FSC-certified paper packaging boxes with unlaminated paper and the tubes are made from recyclable plastic. Even though we are a small brand, we took serious consideration across many steps. For example, recycling glass requires much more energy than plastic so we decided to opt for plastic over glass, even though it would provide more of a luxurious look to our products. The line in general (the 2-in-1 Lip Spectrum), was founded on sustainable principles. It encourages consumers to work with what they have to create new looks, rather than buying new products and putting more into the waste stream.
FB: Your debut product, Lip Spectrum, helped to address problems of inclusivity. Who is the target audience for Just B products and how are you connecting with them?
BK + MC: It’s interesting when people speak of a target audience because what we are actually trying to do is to make the target bigger. These products span a broader range of skin tones, not a narrower one, so we are simply inviting more people to join the party. The reality is that the product should tick the box for a lot of people, from the much-catered-to lightest skin tones to the finally-being-noticed dusky beauties.
We are interested in building a strong conversation with our customers. We have made ourselves accessible and available to our audience. We have a very interactive website where we have made our personal emails available and we are very active on Instagram, where we receive a steady stream of feedback and engagement.
FB: What message do you hope resonates most with consumers when they experience Just B?
BK + MC: We hope that when consumers try out our products, they feel that we see them, we embrace them, and we invite them to ‘just be’ themselves.
FB: What’s been the most challenging part of the journey bringing Just B to market?
BK + MC: COVID-19 and its effects. As Madiha and Sean, Madiha’s husband and fellow co-founder, were unable to travel to Pakistan for the product photoshoot in 2020, Bina had to staff the shoot on her own and Facetime her co-founders so that they could be part of the special day. Being a beauty founder in this day and age just requires a lot of flexibility.
We couldn’t physically go to labs to discuss formulations and build our colors. As a result, Bina had to hand-mix samples in Pakistan, record videos of how the colors work with daylight and artificial light, and how they work on various lip tones to provide clear instructions to our teams in the labs. Then our samples flew to Italy, the U.S., and the U.K. to achieve the perfect color and texture that we are so proud of.
FB: And what’s been the most rewarding part? Any brand building lessons or learnings you could share?
BK: In my day job as a makeup artist and the artistic brain behind our beautiful brand, the same thing fulfills me for both jobs. And that is triggering the secret smile that spreads over a woman’s face when she feels good about herself. It’s a beautiful gift to be able to give and I am always careful to remember to be conscious of that moment. I call it the ‘bibbidi-bobbidi-boo’ moment and I live for it!
MC: Throughout my career so far, I have created state-of-the-art software that helps people find places and assists businesses with identifying customers so they can survive and grow. I have never created something physical that someone can hold in their hands, apply, and feel seen and cared for. That has just been mind-blowing.
FB: What does the current team look like now and how are you approaching hiring?
BK + MC: We are a lean time of three: Bina, Madiha, and Sean as the three co-founders.
We lean on experts in many areas. We worked with a panel of amazing women who helped us sharpen our brand identity — a design team in Santa Monica who designed our website and packaging. Our photographer, Ashley Batz, takes care of the visual look and feel of our brand. We have a PR and social team that are helping us establish our brand in two different markets: the U.S. and Pakistan. In both countries, we work with a passionate group of people helping us bring orders to our customers on time.
In the future, we do foresee ourselves expanding to more markets and would love to hire local experts who can help us message and deliver our products effectively.
FB: What are you most excited about right now as it relates to the future of Just B?
BK + MC: We have plans to expand our Lip Spectrum shades in Q3 2022, followed by expanding further into the cosmetics category with launches for the face and sculpting later in 2022. Since we custom create each product carefully, the process takes time. There are so many exciting things in the pipeline and we can’t wait to bring you along with us on this journey.
There is a notion of multi-dimensionality in every product we are making. I suppose it’s true because even our team is so multi-dimensional — from artists to engineers, from beauty experts to beauty lovers. At Just B, we love to say, “We aren’t one-dimensional, why should our products be?” We are most excited about bringing multi-dimensional textures and colors with smart packaging for every Just B launch.
Interested in learning more about the dynamic beauty sector? Connect with our industry experts at ForceBrands.