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Audio and Photo Source: Off The Nose and Kelly Wade
Listen in to our Founder and CEO. Orion Brown talk with Kelly Wade about all things entrepreneurship. This week they covered Orion's life story, from childhood and college to her transition from the corporate world to building her own brand. She gave us insight on the story behind the brand and the social issues that she not only hopes to solve but that continue to resurface as she tries to solve them.
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Off The Nose
Bringing Color To The Travel Industry with Orion Brown
Kelly Wade (00:00:00):
Coming up. We've worked hard to bring you another great episode. You know, what would make my day if you listen. Yes, but you can really make me smile by subscribing. You can go to optinose.com or on whatever platform you're using right now. They all have that little subscribe button go there right now. Click that and boom, happy Kelly. If that's not enough, you can like us on Facebook. Follow us on Insta and Twitter. You can share the episode with your friends or colleagues, so many options to show your love, but let's just start simple and subscribe today. Right now. Don't put it off you guys rock. Hey, everyone. Today's show is super interesting. I guarantee you, you will never look at Walgreens or CVS the same way. Again, we have the founder and CEO of the black travel box. Miss Orion Brown. This chick is badass. She is a Duke MBA. Former craft product manager turned yes off the nose, pivotal moment, entrepreneur. We're going to hear all about it, the ups and downs and creating this product. Yes. She's into making money and wants it to be an awesome product, but it's a much bigger story than that. You're going to learn all about the hair and skincare industry things you probably didn't want to know. Yeah. And in a very eloquent educational, engaging sort of way. Ms. Brown was an awesome guest with a niche product that goes beyond people of color. Let's go
Kelly Wade (00:02:08):
Well, I'm super excited to have you on, uh, you know, we are off the nose. So we celebrate people like you and you are former craft brand manager, extraordinary JP Morgan. Um, you know, you've worked for us, some great companies and somehow inside you got the nerve, the guts, the, you know, what, um, to leave the corporate world and do your own thing. And, um, and you're doing that as an entrepreneur, as the founder of the BlackTravelBox, which is a super niche, cool product, super excited to, um, talk about that. But first, you know, that first pivotal moment we make is sometime around high school. And we say, are we going to go, or are we going to go to technical school? Are we going to travel around the world and live out of a backpack? So take me back there first. How did you grow up? How did you decide to go to college? You went to university of Chicago, got a degree in human development. How, how, who helped form that decision?
Orion Brown (00:03:20):
You know, college was never a choice, right? So I grew up in a single parent household and the expectation was that I was going to do something with myself. There was no, uh, frivolity of backpacking. I didn't know, backpacking existed until after college. That wasn't something that me kids,
Kelly Wade (00:03:38):
Well, maybe it's better. I didn't know.
Orion Brown (00:03:42):
Yeah. So, so it was a very, I mean, that was, that was never a choice. I didn't get my passport until I was 25. So, you know, that idea of, um, gap years and all of that, that the sweet young millennials do. Wasn't actually an option at the time, which was fine for me. I was very much focused on going to college. I say that I was pre-med since the age of four, I was very, very focused. Um, and everything that I did was driven towards getting and not even necessarily getting into college. It was that wasn't a question of getting in. It was a question of, um, you know, going somewhere really solid and then going on and going on to med school, which, you know, life comes at you fast. And as you know, you make pivots. So,
Kelly Wade (00:04:22):
So your parents were academia or they were fixing what they didn't do. Right. How was that? How was it just expected that you would go to college?
Orion Brown (00:04:32):
I was always taught that I had all of the potential in the world, but I needed to work hard for it. Um, and so, you know, my mom talked to me about what I wanted to be when I grew up, when I was like four, I panicked and then I focused. Yeah. So both of my parents, I mean, like I said, I grew up in a single parent household, neither one of my parents finished college. Um, both when they actually met at college. Um, but neither one of them finished. And, and I, I don't know. I just, there was just never an expectation that I wouldn't
Kelly Wade (00:05:05):
Same for me, neither of my parents. Um, one, my mother went to college, didn't finish. My dad didn't go. He was hard, hard Knox entrepreneur kind of guy. Um, but it was expected. It wasn't a question. It was just expected. Okay. Have you met with your guidance counselor? Where are you thinking of going? So it is interesting looking back though, having parents that didn't graduate, that it was just so expected. Right.
Orion Brown (00:05:33):
Um, I mean, I think my mom really valued her education. She left school because she had, um, the aunt that raised her had cancer and was raising three boys and was medicine, uh, metastatic, metastatic breast cancer. And so she had had a double mastectomy and, you know, major surgery and had three young boys to take care of. And my mom left school, I believe it was her last semester. She had one semester, he left school, she transferred and she couldn't quite balance it with the transferring. And so she went ahead and left, but I mean, she was a high grade, you know, very, um, academic student and did really well in school. She just had life circumstances, depth, resources, and support available to you, do what you have to do.
Kelly Wade (00:06:17):
Yup. So it does it all comes back to the home, uh, as is my thoughts. So you go to university of Chicago, how do you choose human development? I think everybody should major in human development or psychology. So how did you choose that?
Orion Brown (00:06:32):
It was a pivot for me. So, so up through my third year, I was a biological sciences, um, concentration with a number of, you know, minors as they call them a lot of schools. Um, I had tried and dipped my toes into a lot of different things. Um, but when I got to my third year, I realized that I just didn't have the support system in place. I have a lot of stuff going on at home, um, that was bleeding into school and it just making it really difficult for me to have my head a hundred percent there. And I worked all the way through school as well. And so I was like, do I want to do another six years? Do I want to push do another six years of, you know, post-bac study and then going on to med school and do I, do I really have the it's not even necessarily the, the passion or the want for it, the ability to do it, the ability, wasn't the question.
Orion Brown (00:07:24):
I think it really was the passion. It was like, do I really want to do this? And, um, I took a step back. I prayed about it. And then I said, all right, the remaining year and a half of my school career, I'm just going to study. What's interesting to me. And that's how I sort of ended up in human development because it was one of my secondary sort of majors. And I liked it because, you know, psychology uses the scientific method, which is great, but then you can't explore sort of the anthropological and cultural aspects of psychology that aren't really that those measurable aspects. Um, and so being able to be a human development major at UFC was excellent because it balanced the psychology. I actually ran a psych lab and ran a study and I was able to do a thesis, which was awesome. Um, but I also was able to explore, so those in in-between spaces where we understand ourselves, we can articulate ourselves, but it's not necessarily something that we can measure.
Kelly Wade (00:08:19):
[inaudible]. And do you see how that's been, you've been able to apply that. I mean, you are, you're a brand brand manager marketing. I know you did some business analysis with JP Morgan, but basically brand management, um, executive through your career, uh, until you founded this company, how have you been able to apply?
Orion Brown (00:08:40):
Oh, most definitely. I think, I think there's two things that I took away from university of Chicago. One was the ability to learn, to learn quickly, to learn fast and whatever it is. Yeah. It doesn't really matter. I mean, the amount of information that you're asked to simulate in a short period of time and be able to articulate, you know, based off of that is just, I mean, it's mind boggling. People were like crying the first week. Oh, I got 400 pages of through cities. I can't do it, you know, that kind of thing. And so that was a big piece. And then the psychology piece, I think, was multifaceted. I think it depends on the jobs that I was doing in the work that as my career progressed, how much I ended up using it or the areas in which I ended up using it.
Orion Brown (00:09:19):
So coming into JP Morgan, I wasn't a, I find finance technical person. Right. Um, and so I used my ability to learn, to learn the technical stuff and to learn the finance quickly, but the people navigation, the organizational behavior aspects really fascinating to me. And I really felt like I couldn't lean in to the psych work, the cultural psych, the organizational behavior, um, you know, that logic work, the decision modeling type work to really understand how to navigate the people. Because if you can get the people, you can get the rest of it. Right. You know, as I moved into brand where I was still running businesses and running P and L's, and, and more of a, a technical brand manager, as opposed to a marketing brand manager, um, everything did still come down to not only working with the people in the organization cause you had these massive cross-functional teams.
Orion Brown (00:10:10):
I mean, oftentimes I would have a cross-functional team that could be upwards of, you know, 80, 90 people, depending on the business that I'm working on, everything from our finance and operations to our demand, planning to our factory workers. And so understanding how people work, understanding what motivates people and how motivation sort of interacts with output and behavior, um, invaluable in fashion. But the flip side to that is, is when, anytime you're working for a consumer products company, the consumer is the center of it. And so being able to use that psychology to better understand the consumers, what motivates them, because oftentimes they don't know, right. We weren't really that self-aware. And so being able to look into how they behave, understand the underlying insight into that, and then develop products and communications based around that core to the grant for, to the business. And it doesn't matter if you're the brand manager or the finance person really does help to understand who your consumer is, because then you can really plan based off of how they behave.
Kelly Wade (00:11:12):
And you're consumer focused rather than all about your brand in such an egotistical way. And today it's the marketing and the relationship with the consumer is so different.
Orion Brown (00:11:24):
It's, it's, it's evolving, right? So when you're doing marketing, um, in a massive company, there's so many other elements that are not the consumer that are put into play, right. So when you're developing a product, it's not only what does the consumer want and need and what would be best for them, but it's also, how do I keep, you know, my margins, where I want them to make sure that I have the production partners that will do it the way that I, it done. Um, and, and all of these other different elements, not to mention the marketing itself. Right. And oftentimes I've found that we made a lot of concessions from what was really kind of best to go with the consumer and, and building a brand because a brand is nothing without the consumer, the consumer, because it means nothing.
Kelly Wade (00:12:13):
And it's not about them buying, which is so shortsighted. And so old school it's about how they feel about it at every moment in time and a two way relationship.
Orion Brown (00:12:23):
Definitely, definitely. You don't have a brand, you have a product, just things to people to put it. Um, and so that's one of those things like understanding the consumer and actually acting on that information is critical.
Kelly Wade (00:12:39):
Yep. Agreed. And so great learning experience because you're in the corporate world. And I relate because I was in the corporate world for 25 plus years and left to do, to do this. And so I'm stifling at times I would imagine, but I want to hear what you say, Orion, um, but also kind of good structure to learn, to be able to go out and do it on your own. Would you agree,
Orion Brown (00:13:06):
Um, in terms of the transition from corporate to entrepreneurship, correct? Yeah. I mean, it's interesting because, you know, I actually left corporate not to become an entrepreneur. So I originally started BlackTravelBox as a passion project and I was working on it nights and weekends, and it was just something fun to get my hands into. It had been awhile since I was working on my own brand, something tangible, like could like really, you know, come play around with, um, I was doing consulting for like fortune 100 companies and all of the stuff, but it really wasn't anything that I was connecting with myself. And so I started it as a passion project just to kind of Edify myself and Edify my own curiosity in parallel to that. I was also, um, you know, in a corporate environment that was just a hyper magnified version of many of the corporate environments that I have been and being a woman and being a woman of color, honestly, every day was a frustration.
Orion Brown (00:14:01):
And at one point I got to the point where I was like, I think I don't want you to pay me anymore. Like I really, and I knew I was like, that is the most insane thought right. To be like, I don't meet you. I don't, I don't. Yeah. Just stop. Just stop. It's okay. I'll leave you the computer, I'll leave you the badge. Yeah. And so when I mean leave, yes. Let me go. And it was incredibly liberating and I joke I finally left the plantation. Um, but it was true. I mean, I was, I was, uh, all of the microaggressions and all the things that you hear about in the media, that stuff is very true and it is very freely and it is very constant. Um, and there are situations where you go, Oh, well, people just don't understand. There are where people fully understand what they're saying and have no problem with it. And it's just not acceptable behavior. And I, and I think for me it wasn't worth it. I was like, I'd rather be miserable somewhere else and maybe not have a commute.
Orion Brown (00:15:04):
So I, so I left on my own terms. And I actually left with the expectation. I would just get a job somewhere else. I'm very employable. I understand that. Um, and this was pre COVID obviously very pre COVID
Kelly Wade (00:15:18):
Where, where we had full confidence, you know,
Orion Brown (00:15:22):
Right now it's like, I don't know if those offices even existed. Um, and, and they, they had a lot of dysfunction and stuff going on, which we see happening a lot in, in corporate as well, you know? And so, um, leaving was just sort of a separate thought and, and I thought, you know, well, so what should I do? I'll, I'll go get another job. And I was like, I need a break. I'm exhausted. I just went through a really stressful year of mayhem and foolishness with work. What should I do? And so I decided to take some time off and again, I prayed about it because, you know, at least at the important stuff I know to ask a higher power
Kelly Wade (00:15:56):
Right, right. I'm a smart girl, but I know when to give up. Yeah,
Orion Brown (00:16:01):
Exactly, exactly. And so I was like, you know what, let me either fail spectacularly with black travel blocks. Like just make it obvious. I don't, I don't need to drag this out. Like, make it obvious, let me fail spectacularly or let me win and let me see it because I am to your point, not the brightest, when it comes to, you know, sort of these big life directional things and, and the biggest life directional moments, I have really just left a guy to figure out. I'm like, dude, you know, you're smarter than me. Why would I even bother? Like, I know what a farming out. I know when to get a consultant in. And so I gave it three months and I was like three months. So, so in that three month period, it was a whirlwind. I feel like more things came to me than I actually put out.
Kelly Wade (00:16:50):
Well, that's because you were, you had your head up. Yeah. You were aware
Orion Brown (00:16:57):
And my head up, but, and I was also really stating your faith that like, things need to come my way to make it obvious because me trying really hard. Right. Like when you try really hard and you're fighting uphill and it's not the right pill to be climbing, you know, it doesn't look any different to you. So I was like, you know, it has to be things that I think, you know, that there was no obvious thing that I was doing to make them happen to, to show me that, you know what, there's, there's a bigger purpose for this. And so it was interesting. Um, my partner at the time was speaking at, uh, Inc 5,000 and I always tell the story because people ask me, when was the moment you knew? When did you just ...
Kelly Wade (00:17:35):
Yes, the fork in the road, The pivot. Yeah.
Orion Brown (00:17:38):
And it was, it was that moment. I hadn't even, I had like a janky website. I built everything myself at a JQL website up. Hadn't promoted it at all. Like zero promotion. I was like, I don't know how to tell people. I was like, maybe if I build it, people will come. And then I realized how big the internet was. And I was like, Oh, surprise you some work around that. But hadn't even gotten to that yet. I had, you know, just a little tiny set of MVP products and I was going out to discreet people and just like asking them to try it and like give me feedback. But that was pretty much it. And so I ended up at a plus one at INC. 5,000 and you know, obviously a massive event and the galas and the things like that. And I have a VIP pass now and I remember being embarrassed, putting my company name on it. Cause I came up with a company name, like in an afternoon when I decided to like put the LLC, was it the BlackTravelBox? But I was just like, Oh, like, I haven't done anything against it.
Kelly Wade (00:18:36):
You didn't hire an agency. You didn't spend a hundred thousand dollars shame on you.
Orion Brown (00:18:42):
Oh my God. Well, since I've actually, I mean, you speak, speak about like white boarding and gate people will sell you what you want to buy. That's called capitalism. Yes. There were times even in corporate where I was really at how much money we were spending and how much money I was spending because the powers that be in a relationships with agencies and things like that. But there are things that are not, life is not that expensive
Kelly Wade (00:19:05):
It doesn't have to be that challenging. If you come up with a good name on the back of a napkin at a gala, it's okay.
Orion Brown (00:19:11):
Well, and it's one of those things, you know, it was it, even if it wasn't the best name, just getting started was the key, like, just call it something ran later. You can always come back once you can fund it and take 150 K and rebrand the whole thing and they'll start from the ground up and you'll be fine, but get started somewhere. So, um, one story short, I ended up sitting at one of the dinners, one of the VIP dinners right next to the editor in chief at the time of eight magazine, Jim led better. And we had a great talk about instant pots and food and just stuff that I love. Yeah. And, and then he looked you up and the look at the little badge and he was like, Oh, what's BlackTravelBox. Tell me about that. And I was like, I don't have a pitch yet. I literally just put it there because I was like, I can't...
Kelly Wade (00:20:00):
I'd be taking that bomb out and putting it on him.
Orion Brown (00:20:03):
I was like green. I was like, ah, so here's what I made. And here's what we do. And I'm still pretty early. And he was like, this is fascinating. And he called someone else over. And as he was introducing me, he's like, this is all Orion Brown. And she has this company and the woman finished a sentence and was like the black travel box. Right. Yeah. We know who you are. And I just thought peed my pants. I didn't say that. But I was like, that's awesome. And she's like, yeah, we were talking about you. We looked at your site. Um, we saw that you were still in beta because I put on there. I mean data, I'm too chicken to say that she's like, we saw you were in beta. So we didn't approach you about like interviewing or anything yet. We want it to like give you a, to kind of get fully launched. And I was, I was floored. So, you know, this is the very few times that I say fake it till you make it. I was like, yeah, totally so wonderful.
Kelly Wade (00:20:57):
I have my shit together.
Orion Brown (00:21:00):
Exactly. You know what? This never, this is not a situation that I would have ever been in, in any other, I don't know any other universe, like was just was, it was so bizarrely good. And it was so gnarly edifying and, and that was a cascade that three month period, I got coverage. I got mentioned in Forbes. I was in black enterprise. I was, I was like, I don't even have a team. I don't know what I'm doing.
Kelly Wade (00:21:29):
That's even better. That's that's, that's why you have to go for it. Right. Because if you wait till it's perfect. It's it's um, first of all, there's some people that believe we never ever get there wherever there is.
Orion Brown (00:21:43):
Yeah. It's an ideal, ideal, not attainable. Yeah.
Kelly Wade (00:21:47):
And so how did you literally create the products? I mean, you don't have an engineering background. Who did you get to mix it up?
Orion Brown (00:21:56):
So I created the products, I formulated them myself. Um, and I, it's a funny thing. When you make products that aren't full of a lot of crappy ingredients. Oh, it's a little easier, not that hard to do. Um, what I would say is from a marketplace perspective, the barrier to entry to skincare and cosmetics is pretty low. Anybody can learn how to make a lipstick or a body lotion or whatever. It might be the end, the coverage by the FDA, which is kind of scary is woefully low as well, unless you remediate there, isn't a ton that they're actually looking at. That being said, um, I do have a science background and I worked with, you know, our R and D departments over the years as people development, when you're doing food, food is actually a lot more stringent. There's a lot more that goes into it.
Orion Brown (00:22:46):
That being said, there's plenty of, you know, um, I guess I would say like wholesalers of ingredients that also supply, you know, formulations and things that you can do. So it really started out with, I started out with an MVP. My intention was to do what I had done, you know, in my corporate days, which is anytime you want to launch a product or a new category, you go to a manufacturer, you say, look, it's not going to be billions of units. It's going to be like a few, you know, 10,000 or so, 20,000, maybe 200,000 units to start out. We're just testing it, um, work with us, not formulation. And then we can guarantee you, you know, a few million dollars in revenue over the next few years as we, as we build it out. Well, you know, when you're small...
Kelly Wade (00:23:26):
Yeah how do you get them to answer the phone?
Orion Brown (00:23:31):
Well, it's not that the answering the phone, isn't that big of a deal because there is a market out there. There's so typically there's a couple of things. And I don't know if this is too technical. So you kick me if I go too technical, but basically there's big manufacturers and there is smaller manufacturers. The bigger manufacturers will have what they call pilot plants, which are small plants that they use for smaller runs for sample runs for things like that. So I knew that could be a potentially a target. The other piece is the small, just the smaller manufacturers. The, you know, the GDP of the United States is primarily made up of small businesses. There are tons of people out there making their own products for getting their own products made in smaller quantities. When I say smaller, I'm talking tens or hundreds of thousands of units as opposed to millions or billions of units annually.
Orion Brown (00:24:16):
And so I was like, okay, I got my list. I know who I'm going to. The problem I ran into was twofold. One, our products are formulated to travel, better, get through TSA. So we're in hydrogen water. And then our shampoo conditioner co washes are all solid bars. Our bombs don't have any water in them. And that is very different than what the industry is making the industry likes to make more of the same thing with a different scent. It's very easy to get your own podcast, branded chapstick mate, or your podcast branded lotions name. Now I'm saying, well, I know you make it like that, but I need you to put extra processes in and I'm not going to pay you more in your act to slow down your lines. Cause that's appealing. That's not appealing, right. That even just the initial pitch with a lot of these manufacturers, which I wasn't expecting, but then wasn't surprised when I found it was the initial pitch when I hadn't even gotten to the technicality of what we were trying to make. They were like, Oh, it's for Black skincare. Yeah. We don't really do products. We don't really do products for, I remember one saying Afro-kinky hair. And I was like, I'm pretty sure we had to call it... Um, and so, yeah, so I I've gotten politely and not so politely dismissed over just who our consumer is.
Kelly Wade (00:25:39):
So do they take these or, uh, companies, um, make putting the formulas together and signing off on it? Where's the liability there? Like why do they care? What you're making and what you're selling? Is there a liability?
Orion Brown (00:25:53):
I mean, it's just like people saying, I don't want to bake a cake for a gay couple.
Kelly Wade (00:25:56):
Okay. So it's just, it's that straight away,
Orion Brown (00:26:01):
I can pay you to do the thing that you do, or I could not pay you to do a thing that you do, and some people would prefer not to be paid to do it. Um, I mean, that's, that's the best way I can put it. Like, you know, there's, there's no liability from an insurance perspective. Like,
Kelly Wade (00:26:15):
Well, it seems crazy money is money. What would they care? Why do they care? What you're making?
Orion Brown (00:26:21):
And I think, you know, part of it is one of bias towards calling our, you know, calling our entire consumer set niche, right? So it's like, Oh, it's niche or you're not going to be very big. We spent $63 billion on travel in 2018. We grew that threat travel market, $20 billion. Over eight years, we spent $471 million on shampoo. And we know shampoo everyday. It's been nine X, Black Women's been nine X, every other ethnic group on beauty and personal care products. So if you tell me if the niche market, I would say, go back and look at the numbers, but I think people do have that in mind. Um, and, and it's sort of the thought, well, okay, so how much business am I going to get from this in the future also?
Kelly Wade (00:27:09):
Oh, you know, if you walk into Walgreens, you know, that's the, the, the CVS is the Walgreens, they major markets. Do you see it represented? So that's probably why those statistics are surprising because it's not like you walk in and, um, there's a large portion of the store, or even a significant portion dedicated to, to maybe those kinds of products.
Orion Brown (00:27:33):
Yeah. We have to, we have to find other places to sell. And this is how you have companies like black girl sunscreen selling one skew, essentially. Um, and, and really blowing up the marketplace with the right investment and the right support and the right advertising. It's like, well, but blank people are, they really need sunscreen. I don't think this is going to be a thing. Okay. Hey, that's not how biology works.
Kelly Wade (00:27:56):
Somebody said that?
Orion Brown (00:27:58):
I'll have to tell you, but this will give you the sense of the type of things that people say without really thinking. I'm speaking with a good friend of mine at Duke university. She works over there and their DNI efforts. And she recounted to me being a teenager in high school. And I don't know if this was the coach or if it was a sub or whatever it was, but it was there on the track and they're running track. And the person says to her, Oh, we're going to have to work on your form because black people have an extra bone in their foot that makes it impossible for them to flex it properly. And she and I laughed about this, but there's actually people walking around on the planet that actually believed that the biological basis of race is real. Um, and so exactly.
Orion Brown (00:28:48):
And so this is the kind of stuff you fight when you're having a simple conversation with somebody about, well, I'd like to make shampoo bars. Wow. Oh my God. Lush does lush makes them. And there's a few other companies that, that make them as well. So it's not unheard of to do, but I think it's that whole, like you're too exotic. It's going to be really complicated. We're going to end up doing more work than we need to. And it's like, if I want it to rebuttal some plus two in one, I would have been rolling, but that's okay. That's not what my customer needs. That's not what my consumer needs. And I started a company, so I could be truly behold it to my consumers.
Kelly Wade (00:29:32):
Yeah. And I'm sure, um, you get challenged with that every day because you do have to make money. You have to be profitable. I mean, so that's whole same thing that you encountered at Kraft. Right. Um, coming up with a great product that meets the consumer need, but proven the ROI at the same time. So it's a challenge, right?
Orion Brown (00:29:53):
I, I mean, again with, uh, with a customer that spends that much in the category, who is...
Kelly Wade (00:29:58):
You just need to reach them.
Orion Brown (00:30:00):
You just need to reach them. Right. And, and, and you need to serve them in the way that they want to be served. I mean, yeah.
Kelly Wade (00:30:06):
Where are women of color buying skincare and hair products now, or prior to BlackTravelBox
Orion Brown (00:30:14):
For their travel needs it. So it was funny to me because I was sure somebody was already doing this. I was sure of it. I was like, I'm not about to embarrass myself. I came up with this idea, you know, people are like, I've always thought, you know, they should have the thing on the toilet is squirts, water. Yeah. It's been around for like 300 years. Don't even
Kelly Wade (00:30:29):
Don't even have to go to Europe and you can find one
Orion Brown (00:30:32):
You can find them exactly getting funded here too, which is really interesting. And so, you know, to me, I thought it's, it's already out there. I went to the natural products expo and things like that. And I found that it wasn't there. And then as I was talking to potential customers like consumers and doing that research and going well, where do I know where I get my stuff? Where do you get yours? It's, you know, it's the basic, I have to take the stuff. That's my favorite stuff from home and re-bottle it into little containers. And then I have to put the plastic over the top and make sure it, seal it and make sure it doesn't seal it. And then I put it in a ziplock bag, but then I can't take enough. So then I ended up taking extra or you have the person that's like, I just say, screw it and pay the 60 bucks.
Orion Brown (00:31:11):
And I, and I checked my bag, right. And I just pull all my stuff from home and check my bag. Um, and then I started getting to the folks that were like, well, I go to the grocery store and I try to find grape seed oil or coconut oil. And I use that to try to extend it because I know I'm not going to have enough product. And if I get a whole big bottle of something, even if I find it and have to throw it away, but usually I can't find it. And that was, you know, at first I was like, that's genius. And then I was like, wait, you are not, you are not thought enough of within anyone's beauty standard to have products available to you. That actually works for you wherever you go. My positioning for my brand could be all about, well, you know, you just don't want to waste money on buying the big bottles every time you go somewhere, there are no big bottles, even when you're in the state. So what does that mean?
Kelly Wade (00:32:03):
That's where I was going with. It is the, is the product to the pro the innovation of the company and the product come out of not having the right sizes or literally not having enough of these types of products in general.
Orion Brown (00:32:18):
So we know for black women, the hair and skincare industry, the beauty industry is broken. Right. So, um, we don't have, as you Satish pointed out, not a ton of shelf space, we have an ethnic aisle. We actually segregate our aisles and feel okay about that. Um, we still use the word normal on shampoo bottles. So what is normal? What is normal? What is every hate? That word. Right. Um, so, so we have an industry that's broken with the devil with a product double standard and a beauty standard that debt that actually doesn't work for a lot of women, but it's most, um, I guess, piercing with women of color then for where we do have products. There was a, there was a, um, a study that came out just a couple of years ago where it finally, somebody looked at what products were being sold in ethnic because we already know what kind of we've removed most of the crap out of some of the mainstream look at the ethnic aisle. And we're not just talking about like relaxers and chemical based stuff and all kinds of things. So many products, hat off label ingredients that they weren't even bothering to, to, um, report, you know, formaldehyde ingredients that are called, you know, that basically stop and block your hormones, ingredients that cause things like fibroids, which if you look at fibroids in the black community, there pretty much every other Black woman I know has a fibroid.
Kelly Wade (00:33:42):
It is, is this was this to keep the price point down, further discrimination, but was this to get the price point down? Or is this just, uh, back to your other point, this is just what they make. This is what they put in all products. So nobody's thinking about it.
Orion Brown (00:34:01):
I think it's a couple of things I think when you have a society and not to get like, you know, super into like underlying biases and things like that, but we've seen the studies where, um, the perception of pain, the perception of hurt of, of, uh, of Black people and particularly Black women in general has been like undervalued. So it's sort of like, Oh, well, they're strong. They can handle it. It's not a big deal. They're not as delicate. They're not as susceptible. That's one piece, but I think it's to your point also, this idea that, yeah, it's cheaper to make it with this ingredient. This ingredient makes it with up higher, or it makes the color brighter. And in some cases where we would be much more biased towards, um, you know, looking at a product and going, but do we really want to put that on people?
Orion Brown (00:34:47):
We're not having that conversation when it comes to, you know, this particular group, I'm sorry, we've got that company. Um, and so, you know, as we're doing that, we're also, you know, it's also looking at things like how shelf stable is it. So if you look at where black women are purchasing, um, hair and skincare products, particularly hair care, we're going to beauty supply shops where, you know, for a major cities, we're going to Vegas. And so these are places that product may sit on the shelf a little bit longer again, because we're not in a mainstream aisle and everybody isn't purchasing it. We have this bias towards it. You see if a person of color on the package. It's not for everyone. If we don't see a person of color, then everyone can buy it. And people purchase based off of that, like period. And so, um,
Kelly Wade (00:35:35):
Are you saying Black women are purchasing stuff that says normal and that they know is not really the best for their hair.
Orion Brown (00:35:44):
You, you, you purchase what's available to you, right. And you purchase what's, um, you know, you kind of make do with what's out there. And so... It's really, but if you said that...
Kelly Wade (00:35:56):
There's an education opportunity for, for people of color and their purchases.
Orion Brown (00:36:03):
No. So, so what I'm saying is more like this. So if you go into the hair color aisle, right, and you see this wall of blacks as these women, all these different hair colors, typically what you'll see is white faces with a bunch of different hair colors, right? And then on the end, you may see four, eight, maybe 10 boxes of women with black. So what do you go? You go, Oh, that's for them. This is for us, for Black women. We're like, but that's the only like 10 colors. So I still need to go and look at the 15 different blondes. That's 20 different reds, the different pillars of Brown. And I need to imagine what those colors look like on me. That is true for most women of color in different variations. Over the years, we've seen some more diversity start to happen in that aisle.
Orion Brown (00:36:51):
But in general, the expectation is all mainstream products are for everyone. And these products are just for these people. I hate to tell you, but hair is keratin and protein and water, just like, you know, these are all the same across everybody. The way they're structured may be different. What I can use a product that works for my hair, and it doesn't matter what it's labeled, if that makes sense. And so I've had a number of women come up to me and go, Oh, well, I sneak into the ethnic guy all the time because I can't use the stuff that's in that mainstream aisle. And that the industry doesn't recognize that there's a spectrum of people come in, all shapes, sizes, colors, forms, curly hair, dry hair, straight hair, you know? And so that's where the challenge really comes in that differentiation that people are people there isn't a racial line. There isn't a cultural line. Um, and products should be developed with people in mind. And it just isn't. And so to get back to the ingredients, it's not really developed with people in mind, particularly when it comes to the ethic it's, it's developed with what's the cheapest way to get it out and make it smell good and keep it on shelf as long as possible so that I can get the highest margin.
Kelly Wade (00:38:12):
Yep. But you see, uh, you know, you see some celebrities getting involved and I hate to just mention celebrities, but they've got the loudest voices and I, I think it's good, right? The more involvement, the more, um, attention, uh, on this subject, the better. But you have seen some celebrities getting involved specifically in hair. I think I've seen mostly in hair. I don't know how much in skincare. Um, but you've seen some of those.
Orion Brown (00:38:42):
Yeah. I mean, in terms of celebrities starting their own brands, that's a big thing. But even prior to that, if you look at the discussion back and sort of like the 2017, 2018 timeframe, everyone from Mindy Kayling to, um, Gabrielle union hall seat talking about like, I can go to the fanciest hotel and I still can't use the products because when they made that product, they were not thinking of a person like me. And it's really interesting because that conversation sometimes gets a little convoluted because you kind of get the, the kickback of, well, nobody likes their shampoo. It's cheap stuff, but it's like, yeah, these people are staying at like the Beverly Hilton there. Yeah. That's not the, that's not the game that's being played here. There's there truly is an industry that doesn't formulate to the middle, to the true middle. If that makes sense.
Kelly Wade (00:39:33):
What should Hilton do? I mean, do you check in and you choose your type of hair?
Orion Brown (00:39:41):
Well, I mean, the thing is, it's very interesting. So you can check in and choose whether or not you want, um, you know, a hypoallergenic room. If you want your bed sheets to be
Kelly Wade (00:39:51):
Orion Brown (00:39:53):
Let them know if you have, um, you know, nut allergies. So those aren't included in your, your little nightstand thing, you know, little snack thing. I know it's too expensive.
Kelly Wade (00:40:04):
Come on. $14 peanuts are fun. Huh.
Orion Brown (00:40:08):
I'm just going to go to the gas station on the way at dinner. But so, so there is room for more customization, but there's also room for these companies to work with brands and with companies that provide product in bulk, that gives them options. Right? So like every shampoo doesn't have to strip your hair down to it's it's like naked, God, awful like root, right. Which is bad for one person and awful for another. And the, um, the story I typically share about that is, you know, I made a mistake in that, bringing up shampoo thought I was B I would be okay, it's an okay hotel. It should be fine. It wasn't like I was staying in a motel six. It should be okay. I need to wash my hair. And I, it, my hair matted and reacted so poorly to it. It was like a nest. It matters so badly. I couldn't comment. And I thought I was going to have to cut it. I really did think it was God. It was damaged for a few weeks after that. And so there has to be some way for us to go, you know, maybe we should just test this so that the most people can use it at minimum and be mediocrely like happy with it. Right. So not amazing.
Kelly Wade (00:41:24):
Right. So it's really a whole, I mean, it's not just about people of color. It's also about quality of products use across the board, even in the normal aisle.
Orion Brown (00:41:36):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it's, I think it's about understanding that human beings are not this header, this, this homogenous beauty, ideal where their hair is straight. The porosity is exactly X, Y, Z. And you know, they they're blonde. I mean, how many products are for blondes? I mean, I'm sure you see, you get your purple shampoos, you get your purple hair gel. I have lots of options. You have tons of options, not talking to people just in general, how many people are actually blonde. So it's not like you, it's not like we can't recognize that people have different needs. Absolutely not. We're we're not spending in the places, um, that those needs are most needed to be met and that we're willing to pay for. I think one of the reasons why we spend nine X more is cause we're searching through products.
Orion Brown (00:42:27):
If you ask Black woman, we have, we have product graveyards in our house where we've spent thousands of dollars on product and there's like a basket in the closet and there was a basket under the sink. And then there's this stuff that's in the shower and the stuff that's on the counter. And whether it's oscillating just based on our hair care needs or skincare needs, or if it's us going. And again, I tried that it was terrible. It was a bad experience. I had to put my hair in a protective style for six weeks after that. Totally. There's a lot to it. There's a, there's a big market. So I I'd say we're not so niche.
Kelly Wade (00:42:58):
So don't you think with what's going on with the world? Um, there's never been maybe a better opportunity for products like this for companies like the black travel box. Um, we have been forced. I won't go into how I think it's probably God's hand involved. Um, but that is my belief. Uh, and, and so now we are forced to reckon with kind of our deeds of the past, but also in every situation I see opportunity. And there's a real opportunity for people to work from home, to create niche products like this, to break down the old supply chains and the old ways of thinking. Um, so isn't there a lot of hope and a light at the end here.
Orion Brown (00:43:49):
Oh yeah. Most definitely. I think, you know, whether or not we came into the season that we're in right now, I get enough notes from people from around the world, which is just crazy to me. Awesome. That saying like, you know, I heard you on, you know, Gimlet media is the pitch and I don't understand why they didn't get it, but I think this needs to be here. I want it here. Let me know when you shipped to Norway, let me know when you ship to, and these are markets that, you know, extensively should have products in them. Um, you know, and people are living there as S ex-pats. And so even from that regard, we still know that the underlying brokenness of the beauty industry for, for women of African descent in particular is there and it's permeating and it's everywhere. I knew when I stepped foot in Kenya and I couldn't find products.
Orion Brown (00:44:40):
I'm like, this is ridiculous. Like you oversees... Yes, it is. I'm not being facetious. So, but this is also a place that I, I went with a group and we were building a house for habitat for humanity. And we're all, you know, Black Americans and we're really excited. And we go to Homebase, we go to build this house and we go out to dinner and Nairobi and they send us to a restaurant. And they're just like, you know, it's a nice restaurant. You're Americans, you should probably like a nice restaurant. And we were the only Black people in there except for the help and being stared at, as we walked through the restaurant and you know, you had to stretch it a little bit. You gotta stretch. You gotta be like, yo, we got to leave a good tip. Don't even worry about it.
Orion Brown (00:45:19):
Understanding that this, this dichotomy, this, this, this duality of existence in the world is still here. And I think people are starting to see that they're starting to experience it, unfortunately, but fortunately, right. So we're starting with all of the things that have happened with the protest and all of that, where we're, where African-Americans, aren't the only people that are being victimized by it. And people are going, wait a minute. Well, you can't be doing all of that. And it's, you know, it's unfortunate. I don't want anybody to go through what we go through. I really don't. And I think even the mission for BlackTravelBox while I am an abashedly here to bring a voice for women of color, um, by it, if we want to, and if it works for you, that's great. You know, I don't care who I don't care who purchases it.
Orion Brown (00:46:05):
Cause I know just like the movements that are happening now in the streets that are about a very particular issue that will benefit everyone. When we figure out how to not allow people to abuse power, everyone will benefit. You grew out how to take normal off of a package. Everyone will benefit. I mean, if we took it away from haircare and skincare and just talked about general beauty standards, when we get to a place that we don't expect women to look a certain kind of way, everyone will benefit. Hasn't been an iteration yet where we haven't found women putting their whole, their life in danger to look like an expectation that doesn't even exist. Right. And so, so for me, it's a, it's a broader fight and it's a broader challenge and we all have to participate in it in our own way and contribute to it and get us closer.
Kelly Wade (00:46:59):
Yeah, I agree. Um, but there is opportunity because we're talking so, and being aware and learning and you know, if both sides give it each other, a break, um, you know, I didn't, I wasn't, I'm not Black. I don't know everything about the Black culture that I'm, you know, so please don't strike me down for everything I say, I'm learning. And I want to understand and be aware of things that are out there. So I think if we all give each other a break and have general unity about the subject that we want to all have equal opportunity, more than that equal outcomes and be representative. Um, I don't know if there should be, I think, you know, 12% of Americans are, um, black, should, it should 12% of skincare and haircare be black. I don't know. I don't have those answers. I would imagine it's much less than that now.
Orion Brown (00:48:00):
Um, well, so, so what I would say is we're closer to 14%, which gives us about 43, 45 million people. Um, and so what I would say is, is, you know, we're a group that's spends more and we buy more. So you, if you want to do it really clinically and look at just from a capitalist perspective, I would say you would over index in products that go towards the, the community that purchases, the most of them share. So if you're looking at fashion and you're like, well, who's purchasing, you know, runway products like, you know, skirts that are coming off the runway, well, you're not gonna, you're not going to Mark it to Joe Schmoe and Iowa to purchase off the runway. No you're going to go to New York LA LA and you're going to send them samples and you're going to really press into the people that are going to purchase you.
Orion Brown (00:48:55):
And so I don't think it really takes too much of a political, I think it takes a removal of the bias to get to, I want to be frivolously marketed to just like everyone else. Right? Like the sunscreen industry for years could have been telling me that I needed sunscreen because I would buy it. But they're like, yeah, they're fine. They're black. They'll just, it's like, there's so many biases and, and incorrect beliefs that are under underlying, you know, what we do. And to your point of, you know, like us all being on the same page, it has to truly start with empathy, empathy, sits there with the person and says, I hear you. I may not understand it. I may not, you know, walk that path, but I can feel it with you and I can be uncomfortable with you. And I always tell people, start with the empathy, learn what that looks like, a share Bernay Brown all the time, learn what empathy looks like.
Orion Brown (00:49:52):
Now look at what the definition of privilege is not privileged by race. Just what the definition of privileges and understand that. And then you'll begin to see how it's happening. And then, you know, go on to look at things like fragility and understand that study because we all have things that we're fragile about. We all have things that we have privileges and we all have things that we don't understand and have that wall where empathy really has to be a task, not a feeling. And that can apply to anything for women's rights for gay rights, not even for, it could just be for just understanding. I mean, you know, ableism people talking about ableism and like now it's a big push. Every website needs to have, you know, alt tags on their images because not everybody can see and you're like, well, but if people can see the picture right there, no people can't, you know? And so, um, I think that's what we have to do. And, and BlackTravelBox as a part of that process in creating a platform that not only allows our consumers to feel seen and Edify, but also creating a platform to yell from the rooftops. Hey, normal, isn't a thing. Stop it. Yeah.
Kelly Wade (00:51:03):
Oh, yell that I don't even, they're trying to tell me I'm normal. I'm not normal. I don't want to be normal.
Orion Brown (00:51:11):
Nobody wants to be boxed. I think the idea of fitting in and the mean girls kind of thing, where it's like, yeah, nobody really wants to be a step for why no one really wants to be like, we want to show our own uniqueness. And I think one of the countercultures in society today, particularly in America is that, that individuality and expressing oneself in a very unique way. And it just hasn't permeated our beauty ideals yet, but we'll get there.
Kelly Wade (00:51:38):
Did we get, I know you, you, you know, that you point to some underlying, uh, discrimination and so forth, but did we get lazy? Did we get too focused on the, um, the bottom line? How did we get, how did we become okay. With normal and the same ingredients and just a diff slap a different label on it and make it in China? You know, it's like, how do we get there?
Orion Brown (00:52:04):
Well, I mean, so, so if we look at and not to get like too nerdy, but if we look at like, sort of, um, you know, postwar, industrial revolution type stuff, when we came out of the depression, and this is particularly in the food industry, and this is actually, I think where it's most detrimental to American food industry is huge. And it effects our health and our hair. Can't be shiny with shampoo if we're, if we're not eating the right stuff. So, um, the way that essentially work was we came out of the depression. Everybody was broke. Everybody's like soup, kitchen. Just need to feed myself when we're in the war, we're going into a boom. We're coming out of a bus. We have a lot of women that don't know how to cook anymore because they went to work. Um, which is okay, that's completely fine.
Kelly Wade (00:52:49):
Thank you! I Was waiting for somebody to tell me it's okay.
Orion Brown (00:52:53):
It's like, you know, it's, I feel like it's art. Like I can't draw to save my life, but I can cook my off. You know, it depends on like, what you think is important, but in any case, so we have a bunch of people who are looking for convenient ways cause they still had a social expectation to make big meals. So what does the food industry do? We find ways to make one thing that's super convenient is safe. Cause that was a big concern. Like how do I make the same thing repeatedly without giving people ptomaine poisoning. And those like very basic, you know, we don't want them Quantic play in our jars of peanut butter. And so how do we do this over and over again? And this is where you got and like, you know, to, to my business, Alma mater, crafts, um, you know, uh, model the blue box of macaroni and cheese, it's a complete meal.
Orion Brown (00:53:43):
It's nutritious. Cause it's fortified, it's colorful and tasty. So people will actually want to eat it. They were really going off of sort of a Maslow and anybody can make it and anybody can make it. And it's super easy and you can be the hero for the day. And so that's where you get the Betty Crocker's of the world and the crafts and all of that and started getting hungry man meals and all of these things, the underlying incentive is to make it as cheaply and as quickly and as consistently as possible. So this is where you start getting hydrogenated ones. This is where you start getting lots of sugars. This is where you start getting food dyes and all of these things in mass people weren't meant to eat these things that at that level every day,
Kelly Wade (00:54:25):
Why were we so stupid as consumers to accept that?
Orion Brown (00:54:31):
I don't think it was a matter of stupidity. I think it was a matter of need. I think it was also a mix of, of marketing and people not realizing how unscrupulous the world is. People, you know...
Kelly Wade (00:54:44):
We believed, we believed what they were selling us and why would they sell us something that isn't good.
Orion Brown (00:54:50):
Yeah, exactly. And if you talk to boomers and you talk to them about what they ate growing up and what was made, they were like, they made it. So it must be safe because we had a food guide pyramids and we had nutrition facts and all of that stuff. They assume that the checks and balances were there, but the checks and balances weren't necessarily built for them because they were also well on geopolitical and social and economical things. Right? So we had subsidies in corn, we had subsidies in sugar. We had subsidies in soy. We had pulled all this money into that. Hell no, we're not going to stop that industry and pull it all back. And now we've got the agricultural pundits who are going out and making sure that those subsidies continue on and this is why. Yeah. It's I mean, but it's what it takes is, is that initial idea of democracy where we said, we wanted to have a hand in our government for us to actually be paying attention and going, well, wait a minute. Cause I'm an expert in this, over here. And then somebody should be an expert in that over there. And we should all be talking about it and deciding actively.
Kelly Wade (00:55:54):
Yup. And now we have a fighting chance because, um, really the consumer's in charge more than ever.
Orion Brown (00:56:01):
Yeah. Now we have to use that power just like me or to vote. We have to pay attention totally that power to lobby for the things that are valuable to us, the EU has much more stringent, um, quality standards for ingredients. They just ban ingredients from coming into their country. Um,
Kelly Wade (00:56:20):
don't have that luxury. So we have to take for what we put in our mouth and our hair on our skin.
Orion Brown (00:56:27):
Well, we do have the luxury. We have the luxury of putting the right people in place who will assist. Right. So it's about whether or not we believe our consumerism is more important than our own health. Yes. I think there's a shift there. Yeah. It's coming, it's coming and it's coming in a lot of different ways. And I think with the democratization of information, like back in the nineties, when the internet was like MetaCrawler and Lycos, like people weren't in chat rooms talking about, there was only like the VU ha the Yahoo people that were out there, not yet through the company, but then lack of dues or the various names for people who, people who were like I'm vegan. And you're like, I've never heard of such a thing. Do you know what you're putting in your body? Now we have that, that information front and center. And now we're like, well I guess everything should just be vegan because it tastes good anyway. Or it look good. Why shouldn't my lipstick have stuff in it that I don't want to have. And so we're getting there, we're getting
Kelly Wade (00:57:30):
It is awareness. That's crazy. Right? Because you just, you know, you don't like those ingredients, but you don't know what to do about it. And you di we didn't have a lot of choices. And now we have more choices like BlackTavelBox and things like this. If we can get access to these things
Orion Brown (00:57:46):
Well, and, and it's all about also, um, using your money to make the choices, because I refuse to eat more corn. I heard that I'm eating too much corn and I refuse it would start coming out of stuff and which it has started coming out and stuff. And now you're seeing nitrite free, hot dogs and cams and things like that. It's all about the dollars because people go, Oh, well, I'm still buying it. They'll still make it. If you stopped buying it, they'll stop.
Kelly Wade (00:58:14):
That's right. That's exactly right. Same thing with the trash magazines, which I am guilty of. But you know, you can't complain that that's ruined in our culture or a part of it. If you keep spending five bucks on, on people magazine
Orion Brown (00:58:30):
Yeah. That the paparazzi are going after people and violating their rights. If you refuse to, if you're still consuming the content that they're creating.
Kelly Wade (00:58:38):
Exactly. Exactly. So I love this. Um, I know we're, we're winding down, but I, I wanted to bring up this travel crush. You do. I love this. Um, you, you highlight, uh, I believe it is all, um, women of color, but who are traveling travel addicts, or maybe they went on a crazy, awesome trip. And I'm assuming they submit these things to you and you highlight these people maybe every week. I think this is a really cool concept. Um, you started,
Orion Brown (00:59:10):
Yeah. I mean, it's all about BlackTravelBox is all about our consumers. Like I said, it's very consumer centric and it's selfishly could have just came from my own frustration of working on, you know, major brands and in running major brands and not being able to be like, but this is what they want. You know, one of the biggest things that any human being wants is just to be seen and just to be acknowledged. And so one of the things that we do is while we may have an occasional model or something like that, anybody that we show you looks attainable early, you know, happy and beautiful. And, and their variety of beauty is much broader than sort of that generic expectation. And so wanted to show how beautiful all of the women are that follow us. Our audience is about 94% female. Um, and you know, why go out and find this stuff?
Orion Brown (01:00:03):
Why go out and get it shot? I mean, it's expensive. Let's be, I love going out and shooting it themselves. And frankly, they're better than I am at it. I need them to come take some photos for me. Um, it's, it's been great doing that. And the intention it started out just to spotlight them and give them, you know, kudos and show and show them that there is a brand celebrating them. Um, but then, you know, we did recently we did what we call the hospital hero sale, which basically you could come onto the site and get a special discount if you're, you know, a medical worker, um, just..
Kelly Wade (01:00:36):
The COVID box..
Orion Brown (01:00:39):
Well, the COVID blocks is actually a donation item, but this was just for the medical workers who, you know, who were just out there and have pampered themselves and one, an opportunity to do something. And we, um, we highlighted a woman who was actually an army medic and, you know, so we put her in all our emails and we put her on, you know, social and she was following us. It's not like we just like randomly stalked somebody. That would be a little creepy. Um, I remember sending us a DM and being like, you have me over here crying. And I'm like, that's beautiful. Nothing to make you feel special. I mean, to show the world how beautiful you are and how cool you are. Let's be, she's a badass. I'm out here doing it for our country. And on the front lines,
Kelly Wade (01:01:25):
She's easy to highlight.
Orion Brown (01:01:28):
No, and well, we all have things that are easy to highlight about us and they're always, you know, I don't think we get told that. And so weekly, and just say, girl, you are a beautiful boy. Yes. We saw that picture and kudos to you is just a really wonderful and fun thing to do
Kelly Wade (01:01:45):
Well. And you're highlighting, um, you know, black people traveling. I saw some, some information from you, you know, on that more Black people need to travel and you were highlighting in this video. I saw, uh, some, you know, new adventure type groups that are specifically focusing on Black travel. Um, and so I didn't even realize that was a thing, you know,
Orion Brown (01:02:13):
It's a whole movement, which is awesome. You know, as a, as a business woman, outside of the cultural aspects of this, it is dumb to sleep on a group that is going out and traveling in mass and they're growing exponentially year over year, $20 billion in spend growth annually, annually over the course of eight years. When you look at like the frequency. So it, the, the, the sort of political underpinning or the social underpinning of this is, you know, I'm almost 40, my parents' generation. They were the green book generation, right. So they were the ones that you didn't really travel around because they weren't necessarily safe. And now we're saying it's not necessarily sick now either, but that's a different conversation.
Kelly Wade (01:02:59):
Yeah. I'm ignoring that. I'm in total denial cause I'm a travel freak.
Orion Brown (01:03:04):
Well, I mean, and, and for the most part, you're probably would be fine doing it. Um, so the key for us though, is, is my generation is now discovering the worlds, right? Because our parents and our grandparents only traveled the world for the most part, if they were serving their country, putting on the front lines. And so now we're, we're experiencing the world in a very different way, and it is explosive. I mean, the tribal groups on Facebook, there's a group black travel movement on Facebook, I think has almost 500,000 members. This is a book group and they're just constantly sharing stuff every day.
Kelly Wade (01:03:39):
Well, and think about it, right? So like I said, I'm a huge believer in travel. And if, if I have two kids 20 and 17, and if they could have just traveled and got the seal of the education just from that, and that would have worked out, I would have preferred because I believe that if you want to open your mind and have empathy and understand you travel traveling is where is where you learn about other people and other cultures and, and you really open your mind and find who you are
Orion Brown (01:04:15):
As a person. Yeah. It's a great way. I, it's a great way to recenter and kind of find yourself and discover other people. And for me, discover, you know, new areas of spirituality and I see wherever I go, whether I'm in a city or whether I'm on, you know, on table mountain in South Africa, like you can, you have those moments where you're just reconnect to the whole purpose of being here and it's outside of your daily life. And so I really believe at my core that travel is an amazing source of self care. And particularly for a population that is traumatized generationally, um, and continuing to be traumatized generationally, it is so important for us to go out to the world and have that centering and also find places where we are celebrated, not tolerated.
Kelly Wade (01:05:09):
Mm that's a great point yet that I know, um, inadvertently, uh, helps BlackTravelBox. The more black people who are traveling, obviously need your product, but that's really what got me most excited. Um, and, and talking with you is when I read that, I said, Oh my God, I did not realize, um, that that was an issue. That that was something that, and so how do we get into communities and get more people of color traveling because that really can change the world, get out of the situation. Cause we're trying to figure out how to change the situation, how to improve environments, how to improve communities, how to improve homes, like what you grew up in and, and, and, you know, you went down the college path, cause it's all you knew, but that's not what's happening in every home. And so how do we improve that? And travel is such a great way, um, to do that. So, you know, that's awesome to see.
Orion Brown (01:06:11):
And the thing to remember is that, you know, um, the black community in the United States is not a monolith. So we are traveling, we're traveling in the millions, right? So there's about 15 million of us that are traveling internationally regularly. And we're considered avid travelers, um, out of the 43 or so million that are in the country. And that's of all ages, right? While I agree that travel is a beautiful thing and I think everybody should do it. I don't look at it as a way to, um, uplift communities or like, you know, this isn't, this isn't a, this isn't a charity situation, right? This does it. This is a market that is already being made, that hasn't been tapped into sufficiently by brands. Um, you know, what was the last time you saw an ad for Jamaica that actually had a black person in it and Jamaica is a black country, right. Unless they're the stewardess on the flight there, you're just not going to see them. Um, when do you know, and this is why people get stopped, including myself in line for first-class being told, Oh, well, you're not, you're not, you're not getting on yet.
Kelly Wade (01:07:25):
I'm about to get on you. Yeah.
Orion Brown (01:07:26):
Yeah. So, so it's, so it's not, I think, you know, the, the slippery slope is expecting that, you know, there is, uh, sort of that missionary aspect where it's like, well, we need to go get the, get the flies off the kids' faces and make sure that they're fed and take great pictures with them. It's like, no, this is something that, you know, my, my customer is, um, you know, a little bit older, she's quite a bit wealthier. She's, um, she's, she's traveling because she has the income to do so lives well, and she's probably not married because she's doing her own thing. I call her the cool auntie. Now some of them are married. Some of them do have kids, but I feel
Kelly Wade (01:08:09):
That's my travel crush!
Orion Brown (01:08:12):
Cool auntie riight through, she slips the kids a 20, just came back from Lisbon, you know? And so, you know, I do think it's great to have, and I would love to see more programs that allow kids to get out of, you know, detrimental situations. But I also grew up in a space that I never traveled and I had my national geographics though. Um, fine. And so, you know, I just want to make sure that we don't go down that path of seeing every opportunity as a way to pull people up by their bootstraps because there's some moving time boots out there that, you know, we need to recognize.
Kelly Wade (01:08:47):
Fair enough. Okay. So the vaccine comes the borders open, where is Ms. Brown going?
Orion Brown (01:08:55):
Oh, so a few people have asked me this and it's actually really interesting cause I know recently I think it's beta. So I'm going to say, yeah, they are now gearing up to bring in as many remote workers as possible. So they're doing as well FISA and
Kelly Wade (01:09:13):
I heard that on The Breakfast Club,
Orion Brown (01:09:16):
Um, you know, obviously I need to be here in the States cause there's a lot that I'm managing for the business, but I will at least for a short period, check out what they've got going. Um, cause you know, it's nice to be somewhere beautiful and relaxing, but typically my MO is, you know, historical tours walks and lots of good food. So, um, there's a few places on the list
Kelly Wade (01:09:40):
List. Yeah. I was supposed to go to, um, San Sebastian. Has that made it on a list for you? So if you're a foodie, it's a big foodie, um, town in Spain. Um, I was thinking about you when you said you're a foodie and, and uh, yeah, a lot of history there, but all right, well, it's been a pleasure, Ryan. Um, I learned a lot from you and I hope to continue to learn and follow. I'm going to have a crush on you and the BlackTravelBox if that's okay. Um, as we continue this journey. So I wish you total success. Um,
Orion Brown (01:10:17):
Thank you so much . Thanks for having,
Kelly Wade (01:10:20):
I enjoyed it. Take care. All right.
Kelly Wade (01:10:40):
Hope you guys enjoyed the show today. Remember our little talk before the show? Yep. Don't forget to subscribe, like follow share all that jazz. It matters people you matter. Thanks again for listening. See you soon.
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