Wife, mother, beauty entrepreneur, and advocate Nyakio Grieco is the founder of her very own successful skincare brand, nyakio ™. Since launching nearly two decades ago, Grieco's brand has grown to be a beloved collection of skincare products that's unlocked the beauty secrets the founder discovered through her own family roots.

As a first-generation American of Kenyan descent, Grieco's beauty journey began as a young girl when she visited her grandparents, who taught her everything about the world of beauty and wellness. Since 2002, Grieco has used her brand as a vessel to innovate the beauty landscape while building an empowering empire that strives to uplift and amplify women of all shades and hues.

Over the last year, Grieco has witnessed many changes throughout the beauty space due to the industry attempting to correct its wrongs on behalf of Black and brown women. As a result, just a few months ago, Grieco co-founded a new platform called Thirteen Lune – an online destination designed to encourage the discovery of brands owned by Black and brown beauty founders. Her reasoning for launching the platform came from her desire to help move the needle for diversity and inclusion and create a new way for founders and entrepreneurs to build generational wealth in their communities.

Grieco's actions as a beauty leader have provided her the chance to pay it forward for others while also strengthening her own business venture. Last year, she finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of launching her brand online, Target, and most recently had her products grace the shelves of the American retailer. Though the past year has proven to have its ups and downs for everyone, Grieco is still grateful to have the opportunity to use her life's journey and platforms to make the change she wants to see across the beauty landscape.

Njera Perkins: What's been the highlight of your journey as an entrepreneur building a skincare empire?

Nyakio Grieco: I love that you called it an empire. It's been tons and tons of highs and also a lot of challenges I've had the opportunity to grow from. Some of the highlights have been just being a Black-female founder and bringing a brand to market on my own. I didn't come from the beauty industry; I came from a family where I was able to learn all of the beautiful beauty secrets from my grandmother – who was a coffee farmer – and my grandfather – who was a medicine man. 

Growing up as a first-generation American, being able to share their beauty secrets with everyone has been a true highlight. Then also, 18 years later, being able to launch into Target, which had always been a dream of mine. Having that dream realized, I think that's probably one of the greatest highlights today.

NP: Was skincare something you always had an interest in?

NG: Since I was a little girl, I used to make my own nail polish, and I was always really into the rituals of beauty. It was really steeped in the family that I was born into—having a grandfather who was a medicine man and with my mom practicing all of these teachings on us. It sort of taught us about the restorative power of oils and how it's the best way to hydrate the skin. She was always really concerned about using things that come from nature to treat the skin. That was when I definitely learned behavior that turned into a passion. 

Then when I graduated from college, and I moved out to LA to work in the entertainment industry. I was really just so excited to be a part of Hollywood, but [also] be a part of the fashion and beauty aspect. Even though I was working with actresses, I always wanted to be on set or be a part of their shoots or get to know their hair and makeup artists and do all of that kind of scheduling and deal-making. 

It allowed me to have another kind of vehicle into the world of beauty from that aspect. That's where I realized the continent of Africa was very underrepresented at that time. I wanted to share what I had known to be very efficacious beauty secrets with the world and celebrate the sophistication of Africa.

NP: You mentioned your upbringing and your family playing an integral part in bridging your path in the beauty industry and creating your brand. What are some life lessons you've learned from your family that you still carry with you today?

NG: Some life lessons I've learned from my mom that I still hold to be true and share with my kids all the time is that you can't be pretty on the outside if you're not pretty on the inside. I am constantly evaluating and working on self-love because nobody will ever love you more than you love yourself. That allows you to treat others the way that you want to be treated. I think as a Black-female beauty founder, I've learned that while we have to be extremely resilient, opportunities don't flow to us as easily as some of our colleagues and counterparts. But we are here to do the same thing that [they] do in beauty, too, to create beautiful skin and beauty products for people of all colors.

I also create products and share beauty secrets for all. This is because so many of our beauty rituals we've adopted here, especially in the Western world, are cultivated from places that are from marginalized communities around the world. So I really love the opportunity to honor the timed traditions and global beauty secrets through the lens of beauty. 

NP: How have you been able to use your brand and your personal platform, in general, to empower women all over?

NG: After the summer of 2020 and the death of George Floyd, I found myself and so many other Black founders showing up on all the lists of top beauty brands to shop and follow. Being a beauty founder, I really understood the plight of other beauty founders. As a result of that, I created a platform where I could amplify and celebrate and support other BIPOC founders so that we could really help bridge the financial wage gap and build generational wealth in an industry where we spend so much money on beauty.

NP: How do you take care of your physical and mental wellbeing through it all?

NG: Leaning on my faith and the power of prayer. My tribe, my family, friends, and girlfriends. I'm so blessed to have so many incredible women in my life, and we really just lift one another up. Starting Thirteen Lune helped me take [my] pain and turn it into purpose and understand I'm not alone in this industry. There are so many people that look like me trying to do the same. They're making products for people of all colors, and they all deserve success. So that felt really good to take all of those learnings of almost two decades and help others celebrate their wins.

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