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Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kaavia James, Proudly

Source: Courtesy of Proudly / Proudly


What do you get when two Black parents become concerned about the health and wellness of Black children’s skin? You get a product line that is melanin-centric and even includes diapers. Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade put their heads together and came up with a skincare collection that they can be proud of. The idea sparked from wanting to address the skincare needs of BIPOC babies and identifying the lack of products available. The Wades created a brand that is environmentally conscious and “made with earth-friendly ingredients and sustainable packaging,” according to the website.

The couple sat down with MADAMENOIRE to discuss how Proudly products unfolded.

MADAMENOIRE: So first I want to thank you both for sitting with MADAMENOIRE today to talk about your new product. And you know, this is will be a great read and reveal for our readers who are primarily black mothers and birthing people. So first I want to say thank you for such a product Proudly. And I want to ask you both if you can just kind of tell me how Proudly came to fruition.

Dwyane Wade: Well, first of all, thank you Ida for taking the time.

Gabrielle Union-Wade: And in using inclusive language. It’s actually the first time in any of these interviews that anyone has used inclusive language, birthing people. So, I appreciate that as well.

DW: Thank you. So, Proudly from my side is the name of the brand, speaks volume to how we feel about it. We’re very proud of this brand and always say this came out of a need in our community, in the minority community. A lot of it is education. A lot of it is a lot of things. Growing up, I would throw anything on my body that would give me some shine or some smell good, but not really understanding what my body really needed. So I think going through this process with Gabrielle, we got a chance to really see that we didn’t know what the hell we were doing because we were putting products on our baby that was making her have a lot of skin issues. And we were trying to find so many different things at different stores and different brands and trying to put them all together to make it make sense, and they never really did. And so out of the need of that, we decided to jump into this white space and see if we can create a brand that looks like, that felt like the community that this need was for.


MN: Thank you for leaning into that. My uncle would always say that there are two things in the black community that will fix everything, and that was duct tape and Vaseline. And I know just growing older and understanding petroleum jelly is not necessarily the best.

DW: Right, all on the face.


MN: So, Gabrielle, was it tough to get this off the ground?

GU: No.


MN: Like Dwyane said, it is white space. Right?

GU: What kind of angered me is how easy it actually was. And I was like, so no one has brought this up? And they were like, no. And it’s not in a large-scale sort of way. So, when you’re literally reading safe for children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best thing for our children, for melanated children. Right. So, when we just kind of put it together, we put it out there like we’d like to do this, is anybody? And all the hands in the room went up. Wow, damn. We could have done this a long time ago.


MN: Long time ago. Right?

GU: You know what I mean? We could have done this and Zaya could have benefited from this. Once we put it out there, we found like-minded people. And so, literally, we partnered with a frame. A frame is a company that is literally FUBU–style for us, by us. The company is 90% women, 95% people of color. And so, when we formed the Proudly Group, it’s predominantly–and I would normally say all, but maybe there’s a few in there–Melanated parents creating a company and products for their own [melanated] children. Yeah, we were like, okay, well, that happened kind of fast.

Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kaavia James, Proudly

Source: Courtesy of Proudly / Proudly

Maybe we can figure out a way to do capitalism a little differently. Maybe there’s a way to do business a little differently, where every part of this process, we are centering the needs of melanated people, children, babies, employees. Maybe there’s a way to move from a surviving wage to a thriving wage. Maybe there’s a way to actually buoy and support parents of color with work. So, we just were like, if people are open and we’re on this train, let’s go somewhere else. Let’s not go to the same place. Let’s go to the top, basically. And so it came together beautifully authentically. It has grown organically. And to see that, we’re looking at reviews of 4.9 out of five stars. But when you build something from love from within, and the goal isn’t to exploit and pillage your own community when the need is so great, I think that’s where the magic happens, and that’s what it’s been for us.


MH: And that really speaks to Proudly as the name, like Dwayne said, right? Those are all things to be proud of. Let’s get into the chemistry of it, though, right? Are you proud of the chemistry around the brand, the products? Can you tell me?

Dr. Naana Boakye: Absolutely.


MN: Tell us a little bit about that.

Dermatologist: It’s interesting, as we’re talking and hearing about the birth of Proudly and not being able to find, like, concocting all these other brands to try to help soothe obvious rashes and conditions that were arising. As a dermatologist, I wanted this brand just to have transparency throughout. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any contact allergens. I was always presenting the product development team with research papers and saying, no, I don’t want this. Melanated skin needs more ingredients that are more plant based, that could just help moisturize the skin. And I really wanted to just leverage more and more plants because, you know what? Plants make up our earth, and there’s a lot of medicinal value to it. So, I’m proud about the ingredients. I’m proud about the transparency that this brand puts out there for our people.

Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kaavia James, Proudly

Source: Courtesy of Proudly / Proudly


MN: A lot of hydration is certainly a concern of melanated skin, Black skin in particular, and eczema. Was that on your mind when you were kind of doing what you do in the lab?

Dr. Naana Boakye: For sure. Eczema is very prominent in the melanated community, especially in the black community. So, we wanted to make sure that if moisturization is key, that’s like half the battle with eczema. But it all depends on the ingredients that are in the actual moisturizer. So, we made sure that in all of our moisturizers, like our nourishing oil, the bomb, we added occlusive properties and volume properties as well as humectants. So, these are just making sure that moisturization has that trifecta in order to help fill and hydrate the skin.


MN: Plant based, Right? So, can I eat this? Parents…Gabrielle and Dwyane, have you seen Proudly work in real time?

GU: Yes. So, the biggest thing that we’ve noticed is we’ve used it for ourselves. And I know that it’s supposed to be for the babies and the children, but when you hear about the efficacy, we’re like, I got ash, too, on vacation. I had packed the all over ball because it was smaller than everything else. And I had ran out of my doctor prescribed lotion for my cracked skin. I was like, well, let me just see what this all-over-balm is working with. And I didn’t miss a beat. And you don’t need a doctor, you don’t need a prescription to get all-over-balm. And it worked just as good, and it was a lot cheaper and didn’t need to hit my copay. Of course, I’ve seen it in real time. So, if it can work on my dry, cracked skin, it’s done amazing. It’s done amazing stuff.

DW: Her heels.

GU: Okay, we’re going to work on my heels, baby. But we started using it on Kaav’s skin–and the baby wipes–and our friends who have newborns and watching how the diapers work and the difference between the diapers they were given in the hospital and how that worked out on their melanated baby skin versus now that they had the Proudly diapers on their children and the incredible difference in efficacy has been huge.


MN: Yeah, well, I mean, as far as I’m concerned, and I think readers and viewers too, the verdict is still out until we hear what Kaav has to say. What does Kaav say, does she like it?

GU: Yes.


MN: I hated rubbing Vaseline on my ears. I’m going to tell you that. Like, as a young person, I hated really thick ointment on my skin. How’s she responding to it?

DW: One thing about us as parents, we really about routine. We push routine so heavily. One, because we’re routine people to be able to have many things that we’ve had in our life in the last 20-30 years, the routine is important. So Kaav is really about routine, and this is a part of her routine. She would not go to bed without her oils, without her spray, without her calming spray, probably has become a part of her routine. So, she hasn’t given us any.

Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kaavia James, Proudly

Source: Courtesy of Proudly / Proudly

GU: Yeah, but she likes to do it herself. The days of us doing it for her. She’s like, no, I’m a big girl. I do this myself. So, she’s a little heavy handed, I will say. But if she could use the whole jar every night, she would. But she also likes to layer. She likes to do her lotion and the ball. So, listen, if it works for Kaav, it works for us. And she’s very happy with her new routine.


MH: I know we have short time, but I really want to ask this. I think it’s really important. You mentioned that this product is for us, by us. What do the price points look like? Can we afford this?

GU: On our site…nothing is over 12 [dollars]. I don’t want to misspeak, but I believe nothing is over twelve [dollars]. And at Target, we don’t have anything over 20 [dollars]. And the more that you buy in the bundles, the cheaper it gets. When we did a cross comparison of every diaper brand out there, Proudly is best in show and leading. And it’s not by a small margin. We stand by our prices.

And I think especially once we get into Target more, people have a chance to actually try the diapers. And obviously, you know how many diapers you go through in a day. More and more people will get into the bundles and the buying the diaper subscription. We stand by it. And the fact that hopefully, when people really see all of the diaper brands side by side and all of the things that we offer, and at those prices, you’ll see that we are best in show.


MN: Okay. One more question. Will the brand expand? Will there be more products to come?

DW: That’s the goal, right? Of course. But we have to get through now. We have to get through where we are now. I think for us, what’s very important is going to be all the feedback we received. One thing we’ve done great is building a team of parents, of mothers in this melanated community. So, our feedback comes [from] within as quick as it comes from the outside. But this opportunity to now be in Target, to be on, to have, to have all these areas now that we can reach the customer base that we’re trying to reach, so we can get the real feedback, if we get that, then it allows us to grow into what’s next. So, we don’t want to be too far ahead of it, but we definitely have plans to probably be around for a while.

GU: Yeah.


MN: I love it. I love it. And we’re proud to be able to feature this on the site. And again, I thank you for sitting with me and making the time so we can deliver.

Thank you. We appreciate it.

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