Business: TBM Skincare
Voice: Brandy Varnado, Founder & Owner
Watch & Listen: Excerpt of this interview on YouTube
How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted your business?
So the impact of COVID-19: I saw a huge spike in soap sales online. I think the biggest impact is the impact that it’s had on other entrepreneurs. Not everyone that does a business does it full time — a lot of people do it as sort of a side hustle — and so seeing people grapple with how to pivot their businesses during this time…How do you make [it work]? How does my brick and mortar store become an online experience now? But also just, you know, people are being cautious and a lot of people are not spending money. They’re not splurging on the things that they once did.
With skincare, although people are washing their hands more, [skincare] kind of taken, you know, a backseat…people aren’t engaging in as much self care or they’re not looking to buy beauty products to try on the weekend as much. So it has been a challenge, but also a real opportunity for us to really engage with our customers to talk with them more, send out more emails, engaging with them more on social media and figuring out, you know: What are they thinking? What are their fears? What are they worried about, what’s coming up for them, and then also have the opportunity just to share resources about things that they can potentially benefit from
What is the meaning of your business to you? to the community?
For me, my business is just an expression of freedom. Kind of how I grew up, something that I was taught and that I value, I value people and helping people. So I started my company because I had an issue with my skin. It has always been the case for me that once I learned something, I tried to share it with other people. And so once I learned how to take care of my skin and solve my own problems. I said, “hey, maybe other people have this problem to let me start sharing this”. I think for the community, being from Richmond starting and growing a business in Richmond, my business is about community. You know, it is a place where people can come and gather on our social media. I really take my business very personally so I know I really know my customers. I know them on a personal level. When we do pop up shops, people are coming to me, you know, they’re bringing their kids. I started my business five years ago, so now kids are grown up and they come and talk to me about school and what they’re doing. So I think TBM Skincare is really a place that is not only about self-care. It’s about family. And it’s about community.
What motivates you to continue to provide your services to the community?
I think people need it. Yeah, people need it. If there wasn’t a need, I would probably be doing something else, but people need our products and the TBM community. And I think for our company, we focus a lot on educating our customers: about their skin, about product ingredients, about how to properly care for their skin, and not just their face – their whole body because skin covers our entire body. And that’s not something that a lot of other companies are doing. And other companies are really pushing products and promising results that people aren’t really getting. And they’re not really educating people on what they can do to properly take care of themselves and, and care for their skin and how to address things as they come up.
What are your current operations/services/specials & how people can shop local safely?
We are mostly online. We traditionally do a lot of pop ups at events, different festivals, and things like that. And so all of those have been shut down with the shelter in place. And these events are really one of the ways that we meet and engage new customers. That has been hard. But as I said, social media has really picked up. We’re really leveraging that.
What do you want people to know about your business?
This year in August, we’ll celebrate five years. And so I’m really excited about that. Being in business for five years, if you were with me in the beginning, you know that my business has changed a whole lot. So now, being in a position to have the company be more reflective of the customers that we serve and expanding our line is great. We’re adding a Lux line so that people have more targeted facial treatments. You can get a full at home spa experience or facial experience, if you like. At the same time we still offer our native products that work for all skin types and that you can use for the entire family. We’re also moving to add a men’s line later on in the year, because we have a lot of men who come and say, “What do you have for me? I care about my skin?” So I got you, okay!
How do you feel that you are continuing to foster the spirit of Richmond’s motto “Pride & Purpose” amidst this COVID-19 crisis?
Yeah, I think about growing up in Richmond. Richmond is a small town, but we are very powerful. And people from Richmond did have a lot of pride in Richmond. And so one of the things that was instilled in me being from Richmond is, Richmond has to look out for Richmond.
And so if when there’s another business owner that is struggling, you know, I’m quick to reach out. I’m in constant communication with other business owners. And it has been really great connecting with other Richmond business owners, because we all reach out to each other to say, “Hey, what do you need?” or “I have this.” or “let’s go and support that person.” and really being supportive.
I think this time right now…it’s frustrating. It’s hard. It’s uncertain. But it’s also a really great time to collaborate with other people and be in communication, you know, reaching out to those people who, maybe you’ve been in your store, you’ve been too busy to talk to your neighbor down the street. Talk to him now, figure out what you can do together. Because I do think that we’re more powerful together. And I see that every day when people come together, they’re able to make a really great impact.
Location: Bay Area
Good Deal: The TBM Luxe line is all about indulgence and self-care. This new set of targeted treatments will not only give you that at home spa feel, but also have your skin looking and feeling the best its ever felt!
About Heart of Richmond
Heart of Richmond is a digital storytelling and marketing series designed to lift up the voices of our local entrepreneurial community. Over the course of 4 weeks we are sharing the stories and voices of 12 women-owned, food & beverage, Latinx-owned, and Black-owned Richmond businesses, and sponsoring promoted posts for them through our social media channels. Read, listen, stay tuned to our social media, and support local safely.
Interviews conducted by Richmond Main Street. Responses lightly edited for clarity with careful attention to maintaining the integrity of the participant’s time and insight. Photos by R.D. López/Shots From Richmond.
Generous support for the Heart of Richmond series provided by Wells Fargo.