BEAUTY BOSS: Ah-Shi Beauty Ahsaki Lafrance-Chachere
As a member of the Navajo Nation, Ahsaki Báá LaFrance-Chachere didn’t grow up in an area with a nearby Sephora or Ulta Beauty store, so she set out to build her own luxury makeup and skincare brand: Ah-Shí Beauty. And opened a store to carry the products.
On top of reclaiming her tribe’s culture and traditions — which have been commercialized to death — LaFrance-Chachere wants Ah-Shí to encourage people to set their own beauty standards, and have great products to use as a means of self expression.
“The brand name itself connects my culture with the world. Ah-Shí in Diné (Navajo) means ‘This is me. This is mine.’ Ah-Shí Beauty translates to ‘This is my beauty,'” LaFrance-Chachere tells InStyle. “When you look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘Ah-Shí Beauty’, you’re saying ‘This is my beauty.'”
The brand has also created opportunities for her community. Ah-Shí Beauty has a studio that also functions as a gift shop, content studio, distribution center, and showroom just off the reservation in Gallop, New Mexico, as well as a storefront in the Navajo Nation capital Window Rock, Ariz. Ah-Shí beauty is the first Native American-owned beauty brand in the country to open a storefront, in addition to being the first Indigenous- and Black-owned beauty brand.
Ahead, LaFrance-Chachere shares the inspiration behind Ah-Shí Beauty, the challenges of opening her first storefront, and more.
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What inspired you to create Ah-Shí Beauty?
What really started it all is the need for authentic representation. Being a product of the Navajo Reservation, we never see ourselves or hear our voices in the beauty industry. The closest we get is probably seeing patterns or inspiration from tribes in packaging, story lines, or the commercials they shoot on our reservation. Being a res. kid and having a mom who was a fashionista and into luxury beauty, there has never been a voice of ours in the space. I don’t want to be just one brand, but the official first Native American prestige beauty brand. It took awhile to start the brand because I knew I only had one shot to show the industry that we are here. From one reservation to another, we’re all in the same regulated, oppressed system. I hope building this company is going to do more than create amazing products, but also inspire others to start …….