Vera Moore Cosmetics, a prestigous skin care and cosmetics line created by former Broadway and television soap opera actress Vera Moore, is now available in China under a partnership between VMC and Studio Ebony, the first, full-service hair and beauty salon for women of color in the province of Shanghai.
The U.S.-Asia partnership, the first between two Black female entrepreneurs, was brokered by the National Minority Business Council Inc.’s Global unit, NMBC Global, with working capital for the first shipment provided by a U.S.-based Black investment group. In the United States, the VMC line enjoys nationwide placement in the exclusive “Look Boutique” at more than 50 Duane Reade-Walgreens stores. Moore, a long-standing member of the NMBC and a former president of the organization’s Women’s Business Committee, met Studio Ebony’s founder and president, Byronie Richards, in 2014 at the NMBC’s New York City headquarters.
“Our meeting was a great match,” says Moore. “We instantly clicked. You would have thought we were old friends getting reacquainted. This is new territory for me. I’m ecstatic. We’re two women working together, a marvelous collaboration, and I owe it all to the NMBC’s Global Entre-
Jamaican-born Richards migrated to China three years ago to complete a master’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in Chinese economy, at Peking University. She stayed on and eventually established Ebony Studio for women of color, a market she says she discovered in the first week of her move from Beijing to Shanghai, the world’s most populous province. She was introduced to Moore while working out of the NMBC Global Entrepreneurship Center during her annual visit to New York. As a “relationship partner” of the Center, she shares her expertise on China and its markets with the Center’s leadership and members. “There are many untapped industries in China that are as viable as [the country] is a new market for many products, especially ones that are Afrocentric,” Richards says. “[African-American] entrepreneurs should not be afraid to explore and try new things and to make full use of relationship capital to accomplish mutually beneficial goals.”
A meeting followed talks with Moore’s daughter, Consuella Helms-Jeune, VMC’s national educational director, who schooled Richards on the features of the VMC line and the application process. “The brand is anchored in the belief that skin care is imperative as a complement to supporting inner beauty, coupled with the usage of cosmetics. Thus, VMC’s mantra “Skin care is the true foundation,” Helms-Jeune says.
Richards returned to Shanghai with VMC test products for her clientele. The first official shipment of skin care and cosmetics was sent last summer. The products received favorable reviews from Studio Ebony clients, Richards says. “The response to Vera Moore Cosmetics is great. The clients love the fact that they can buy makeup that is suitable for their skin, as there is an obvious absence of Afrocentric makeup in China.”
NMBC President and CEO John F. Robinson says Moore’s NMBC membership and rigorous application of lessons learned from NMBC educational programs and trade missions prepared her for success in the global marketplace.
“Vera has been associated with the NMBC as a member for over thirty years. She took advantage of our international trade services, and she went on trade missions with us to Jamaica, South Africa, Barbados and Puerto Rico. She’s been pursuing this goal of making her business global for years,” he says. And indeed, Moore, a 2000 Network Journal “25 Influential Black Women in Business” honoree, is exploring markets in Africa and the Caribbean.
At the NMBC’s 35th Annual Awards Luncheon in February, Moore received the organization’s 2015 Outstanding Global Business Award. The award was conferred in recognition of her landmark China partnership and her “long-term commitment in wanting to do business on a global scale,” Robinson says.