Rebellion Is At the Core of Oui the People's DNA
For many, our introduction to body care was born out of the feeling that we needed to comply with certain beauty standards. Take shaving, for example. Until recently, it was mainly viewed as a chore — taking out all the autonomy behind that action.
And Oui The People's founder, Karen Young, knows a thing or two about that. She started the company with a stainless steel safety razor to solve her own issues, and those of many others, with ingrown hairs and razor burn. Doing so allowed her to change the conversations she was having surrounding shaving, and it led her company to attract a loyal following who wanted her to create more.
That's why Oui The People expanded into more body care products that address irritation, inflammation, dry skin, and more. But to Young, the brand is so much more than that. Her mission has always been to help people who feel unseen by the beauty industry, and as such, all the messaging in Oui The People's packaging and site is gender-inclusive, and it's a feeling that expands into the brand's social media as well.
Ahead, Young breaks down the benefits of safety razors, why body care is important to the brand's ethos, what misconceptions she believes people have about sustainability, and her tips for the aspiring beauty boss.
You started the brand by launching a safety razor. What are the benefits of using one?
KY: If you use one very sharp, well-honed, well-made blade, it just removes it from the surface of the skin and leaves you with a really close, smooth shave, whereas multi-blades act more like a lawnmower. The first and second blades are the sharpest, and the rest are dull, so the first rip hair off the skin and some skin cells, so the remaining blades go over very fresh skin — that's why most people get irritation and razor burn.
Why is body care a category important to your overall brand?
KY: I always felt like it was overlooked. We started with the razor and then quickly learned from our customers that I was talking about something larger. I credit them and their desire to connect with the brand. They came back and told us about their insecurities and how our products helped them feel like they didn't have to hide. So I leaned in, I got curious and I listened with a lot of empathy. That opened the door for other things.
What are some misconceptions people have around sustainability?
KY: I think the conversation around it makes people feel as if they need to solve it all at once, and as if the fate of the earth rests on their individual shoulders. But if they make one or two small sustainable choices, that's really magnificent. For example, if you chose a safety razor as opposed to a disposable plastic one, you're doing quite a bit. More than two billion plastic razors end up in landfills every year, so when you magnify those choices, you end up with a relatively significant change.
Oui the People just raised over three million dollars in seed funding, which is major, especially considering you're one of fewer than 100 Black women to ever raise over $1 million. What tips do you have for the aspiring beauty boss?
KY: Thank you! The best thing I've done is always gone against the grain. I think the only way to stand out is to embrace your humanity, weirdness, creativity, and really pour those things into your brand and whatever you want to reflect to the world.
VIDEO: The 7 Best Hair Removal Creams for Every Part of Your Body, According to Shoppers
Shop Oui the People Products
The Single Rose Gold Sensitive Skin Razor
Cheat Sheet Resurfacing Body Serum
The Big Reveal PHA Ingrown Relief Toner
Big Mood Bath Soak
Sugarcoat Moisturizing Shave Gel-to-Milk
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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