Dorion Renaud, the founder and CEO of Buttah Skin, is unveiling his new anti-aging line, Buttah Eternal. His aging control products have resonated with his core audience and captured new consumers. Renaud explains he started with 3000 units and sold out the first weekend the line debuted. Approximately, Buttah Eternal has sold 20,000 to 25,000 beauty kits. August is the month designated as Black Business Month. Though Renaud celebrates the month, he wants the perception of this company to expand beyond the confines of Blackness and be seen as an American brand. Buttah Skin Inc., now coming up on the fifth anniversary of its inception on October 3rd, celebrations are in store to pay tribute to this pivotal date. One cause of commemoration is Ulta Beauty recognizing and acknowledging that Buttah Skin and Eternal is more than a Black-owned cosmetic line and changed its division to the ‘Clean Beauty’ section.
Yolanda Baruch: What made you enter the anti-aging space with your new product line, Butter Eternal – Sterling Silver Kit, which comes with a retinol oil, eye cream, and uplift and smooth wand?
Dorion Renaud: I wanted to get into anti-aging because I’m getting older (laughs). I’m 35, and we are in that preservation stage. I first started dealing with some skincare issues like acne or blemishes and hyperpigmentation, and I like to let the products evolve as I evolve. I was in the market, looking around, and seeing many anti-aging products that were [not] geared towards people of color. I started doing my research on the benefits of retinol, of eye cream, to help wrinkles because even as a man, being on camera, you want to preserve it and feel ageless or eternal for as long as you can. [While] I was going through my skincare journey, I kept hearing people say Black don’t crack, and the truth is, it can crack if we don’t take care of it properly. So, along with our other products, it was important for me to give our Butter users some anti-aging products. I’ve had so many women in their fifties come up to me in the streets, and they were asking for it, “When are you going to come up with anti-aging? So two years ago was when I initially thought about doing anti-aging, and the name Eternal came to me because I just felt like it described how we feel about ourselves as Black people, eternally beautiful and eternally with our souls and everything that we do leaves a bit of a mark and history. When you’re a turtle, you never die.
Baruch: What made you decide to make Eva Marcille your spokesperson? How was it working with her to create this campaign?
Renaud: Well, everybody I work with, as far as the faces on my campaign, are friends of mine. I tried to think about who represented whatever product I’m working on at that time. Eva was the first celebrity that I met or knew in LA; she went to Clark Atlanta University as I went there. I remember being young, coming out here, seeing her go to award shows, and being Eva from America’s Next Top Model, and now that she is a mother of three and approaching 42, [she] still looks so good, to be so resilient. I wanted to pay homage to one of the first faces that we saw on a major platform being chosen.
When she won America’s Next Top Model, it was a big deal for us as Black people [and for] non-conventional models, somebody that’s not so tall and just this gorgeous real human being. I’m so inspired by campaigns and the people of that era. I’m not trying to say that we don’t have any real stars, but I think during that time, you saw her work for everything she has, and I felt it would relate and connect to the audience, and people love her. People like Eva should be celebrated on a large platform even more because she was one of the first people that we thought of when we thought about modeling, especially from that period when I was growing up.
Baruch: Has she used your products, and if so, what was her feedback?
Renaud: Of course, she loves it, and that was an amazing thing because I sent her the products before I even asked her to do the campaign. It’s important that they like the products because they’re going to celebrate it more. We don’t want somebody that is going to take a check and say, “Okay, I’m going to be the face of something that I don’t believe in,” [Eva] believes in it and loves it. As she’s getting older and taking on more jobs because she is a very booked and busy woman, it’s easy for her to use it on the go. She loves the Eternal line and always texts me, “I was using the eye cream this morning, and my eyes are less puffy before set,” so I think it works great in her day-to-day life.
Baruch: August is Black Business Month, and we’re entering the holiday season. Can you explain why it is essential that Black consumers purchase holiday gifts from Black-owned businesses?
Renaud: Well, I think outside of the whole, let’s support Black businesses, we hear you, and we make products for you. I can’t speak for other Black businesses, but for myself, we cater these products for our people; it’s soul, heart, and love in these products. So when you’re talking about holiday time, you want to give people a gift that means something, a gift of true love. We go out of our way to do special packaging for the holidays. We go hard with our holiday campaigns and want you to feel good as you enter the new year. I will say the main reason is that we make it directly for you, and what better gift than something custom-designed for your skin type?
Baruch: As a business owner, how has the current inflation impacted your company?
Renaud: We have had to raise some prices, and that’s something to be talked about, too, because a lot of people don’t like to say, “Oh, I raised my prices.” But inflation has been up, so we had to keep up with that, and it was hard for me to decide even to raise them just a little bit because we are a luxe brand, but we try to make it extremely affordable. However, when we raised the prices, we added a little bit more. I have seen some changes in the direct-to-consumer market and an uptick in-store, which has been good for us. We haven’t seen any customers drop off our subscription base, which has been amazing. Then, for many of our customers, it became a necessity instead of a want; it became a part of people’s lives during and after the pandemic. And so, with this time and inflation, I feel like, if it’s a necessity, and it’s good, and we continue making good products, then we won’t have any problems with that, hopefully.
Baruch: Entertainment and business mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs announced that he’s launching a shopping platform named Empower Global. Can you talk about your involvement and how you are engaging in this partnership?
Renaud: I’ve known Diddy or Puff for over a decade. I started modeling for Sean John, and he’s always been a friend and somebody who has uplifted me and given me advice. His team reached out to me, and then he reached out to me personally. Number one, you can’t say no to Diddy when he calls you with a business idea, and a lot of what I do is inspired by him. I remember being young and in college, going to Lenox Mall in Atlanta, and seeing him sign bottles of his Unforgivable fragrance [Unforgivable By Sean John For Men]. He was the first Black man I saw in a Macy’s doing autograph signings for something outside an album or a movie. I was inspired by the movement that he had. When he did Vote or Die, his voice is so loud. [Diddy] only touches things he’s passionate about, and when he said that he would start something so that people can find all Black-owned products, I thought that was an amazing idea, so we wanted to help launch it with him.
We’re going to be doing many things with Empower regarding community outreach and activities and getting the word out. And, look, I’ve loaned my brand to other White sites like this, and they take a percentage and make sales off of it. So why not send customers to a Black-owned site, where they’re going to nourish my customer base, their customer base, and we can build something incredible together?
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.