Fly Female Entrepreneurs

Fly Female Entrepreneur: Selma Idris

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What happens when your son is suffering from cradle cap but the treatments on retail shelves aren’t delivering the results he needs? You create your own. Brooklyn-based Selma Idris is a wife, mother of two and now the beauty behind The Brown Crayon Project, the very first certified-organic skin and hair care line for brown babies and toddlers. She’s busy preparing for the official launch of the collection but took some time out to give us the inside scoop on the newest addition to her family. Here’s what she had to say:

In Her Shoes: I absolutely love the name, The Brown Crayon Project. How did you arrive at this name for your products?

Selma: Thank you! My background is in Verbal & Visual Identity for new products. I worked in naming for a few years and I knew exactly what I wanted it to communicate, but being your own client is a bit torturous sometimes. I was obsessing about it, so I decided to let it go and simply referred to my work as ‘The Project’.

One night, my husband and I were talking about ‘The Project’ and how I wanted to speak directly and simply to our kids and utilize our community, from physicians to fine artists, to craft a message that would support their emotional health as well. We spoke about raising our children: ‘seeing’ themselves, our fears, the diaspora, inclusion, the ego, normalcy, art, the power of media and advertising, play, schools and the infamous ‘Flesh’ colored crayon of our youth. Then I went to bed.

Next morning, I said it out loud and that was it. The Brown Crayon Project.

In Her Shoes: What inspired you to launch the brand?

Selma: I need the products I make, so necessity is why I make the products I can’t find or wish I had better versions of. But being a mom is what inspired me to launch the brand. It was about me taking my children by the hand and walking away from the establishments that would not serve our family’s greater purpose and leading them towards solutions and establishments that would. Even if it meant we had to create and help foster our own.

In Her Shoes: Congrats on being the very first certified-organic skin and hair care brand for brown babies. What were your very first thoughts when you learned this fact?

Selma: Thank you! It went something like, “No way. Really? How did this happen? That’s Crazy.” It wasn’t until I was reading case studies and doing some market research that I realized that The Brown Crayon Project was a first of it’s kind brand.

In Her Shoes: A lot of people are walking around with great ideas, but the taking a concept from inception to execution is no small feat. How long did it take you to “give birth” to The Brown Crayon Project?

Selma: It’s been a four year journey. There’s a lot of moving parts in product development. I had to find the perfect chemist, manufacturer, warehouse & shipping partner, the packaging provider, a lawyer, a label, a web developer…I’m getting a headache thinking about it. I also went through several rounds of product development, testing & refinement. I took my time to make sure everything was as it should be.

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In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Selma Idris’ shoes? 

Selma: I have two boys (4 years and 2 years) and my work studio is in my basement, directly under the boys’ room. I wake up at 5 a.m. so I can experience the silence of my early 30s for a moment, check my email and then get everything prepped for the awakening. The boys are up at 7 a.m. and then the party starts. Breakfast is a disco and music is a constant. When they’re not in school I keep them and their friends very involved in everything I’m working on. From taking and selecting pictures for the brand’s Instagram account, coloring images for trade shows, inserts, giveaways, posing for packaging, selecting favorite books for our reading lists and of course testing product. It’s important to me that kids are included in choosing scents and textures. Ultimately, the products and the brand is their experience.

Coffee happens a lot. Sleeping not so much but I definitely want to get back into that. My boys got me into scooting and I have recently lost all shame and now scoot everywhere including straight into meetings because it’s awesome. I wear a beaten down pair of New Balance on a daily and clean up with a wardrobe almost exclusively designed by superfussy and then I swap in fancy shoes depending on where I have to go. Tod’s are my go to for fancy meetings, high tops are my substitution for heels at evening formals and in warm weather I abandon everything for the black flip flop. If it was up to me and not the weather or my arches, my entire life would be spent in a pair of black flip flops.

Selma Products
In Her Shoes: Your brand is officially launching in August. I know you’re excited! What would you consider to be a “successful” first year in business? What type of goals would you like to reach?

Selma: It’s all very exciting and quite surreal. The phenomenal support we’ve already received with the launch of the Kickstarter campaign has been quite reassuring. My goal for the campaign is to get product into the hands of people who honestly respond to the message, the first adopters, the trendsetters. The products are beautiful, I want people to touch them, smell them, use them and see for themselves. The campaign is helping us talk to a community beyond my physical reach which has offered enriching feedback and learning. We will continue to engage with our community in the coming years.

To me, success would sound like the buzz of potential competitors. I’d like to see companies big and small commit to making high-quality, safe products that address our children’s unique needs and adopt messages of inclusion and love. This is a formidable market that needs a lot more than a handful of price points, perspectives, skill sets and approaches. I want to raise the bar for the quality and quantity of products available to and for us.

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In Her Shoes: If you could have any celebrity child work with The Brown Crayon Project as a brand ambassador, who would it be and why?

Selma: Easy! Hands down, Jack & Diane, the twins on Black•ish. The show alone gives me life and Jack & Diane, are you kidding me?!

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In Her Shoes: Congrats on the success of your Kickstarter thus far! You have just four days left in your campaign. Give us the top three reasons why we should donate today:

Selma: You only need one. Your vote matters! Shopping is quite democratic. We choose the kind of companies, brands, images and messages that will exist in our communities by who we choose to support. The message and mission is honest, transparent and direct. If you agree with my platform, please support us and any brands and companies that do good business that you believe in.

To learn more about The Brown Crayon Project or donate to the brand’s Kickstarter campaign which ends in four days, click here. Also, be sure to follow Selma and her team on Instagram (@thebrowncrayonproject) for regular updates!

As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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