This story is part of Image issue 5, “Reverence,” an exploration of how L.A. does beauty. See the full package here.
Nyakio Grieco, a Los Angeles beauty entrepreneur, was unexpectedly thrust back into the spotlight in the summer of 2020. Her skincare line, Nyakio Beauty, had gotten a profile boost when it was bought by Unilever in 2016 and again when Target began carrying her collection of oils, balms and creams in February 2020. However, this newest burst of recognition wasn’t just about her skincare sales — it was about what she represented.
“I found myself on all those lists,” she says, referring to the slew of “Black-owned business” compilations that mainstream media outlets cranked out in response to a culture-shifting wave of racial injustice. “I was shocked by how many of those brands I’d never heard of before. I started going on their Instagram and websites and learned that a lot of them had very limited distribution.”
Along with friend Patrick Herning (founder and chief executive of size-inclusive fashion hub 11 Honoré), she set out to create an online platform that would center that underrepresented talent.
Their West Hollywood-based e-commerce site, Thirteen Lune, launched in December 2020 with a stable of 13 beauty brands. It now features more than 80 companies, 90% of which were created by Black and brown founders. Inventory includes an array of skin moisturizers, hair-care products, cosmetics and wellness items ranging from $8 to $225, from burgeoning brands and a few well-known names (think tennis icon Venus Williams).
Eleven By Venus Williams Perfect Form Lip Balm with SPF, $19, at Thirteen Lune.
This month, Thirteen Lune debuts its first IRL shopping experience. The site has partnered with JCPenney to create “stores within a store,” where shoppers can peruse, test and purchase many of the site’s wares in person. The rollout begins with 10 maiden locations — including one in Whittier — with an additional 300 locations set to open in 2022 and full expansion to all JCPenney stores by 2023.
“For so many of these brands, this is their first chance to have national distribution,” she says. “We’re going to continue to amplify and help support them so they can take a bigger piece of the pie.”
For Grieco, teaming up with the century-old department store has been a full-circle moment. “I grew up in Norman, Okla.,” she says. “There was only one place my mom could get her foundation shade and …….