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Lawrencia Nelson
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Lawrencia Nelson


'The Visibility Of Black-Owned Brands Matter'

More in our conversation with Lawrencia Nelson, Founder of Lena Media Consultancy.

BY Agnes Amondi

Feb 01, 2023, 07:11 AM

Photo of

Lawrencia Nelson

Photo by

Lawrencia Nelson
A 2017 Nielsen Report showed that black people spent $1.2 billion annually on beauty alone. The biggest spending went to ethnic hair & beauty aids with a total of $54.4 million. 
Despite this, the lifestyle, fashion and beauty industry has long been faulted for only catering to a small portion of the market, usually the lighter, white skin range, and not being cognizant of people of colour.

Consequently, black consumers have had to contend with using products that are not quite tailored for them, an experience that the Founder of Lena Media Consultancy, Lawrencia Nelson, a British-born Ghanaian completely understands.   
“Growing up I suffered from acne and was constantly recommended Clearasil, which may not have even been catered for a young black girl. 20 years later, we have individuals creating vegan and organic skin brands catered for people who look like me. They care about what we put on our skin."
"I love this term which I heard recently from a client "Catered for us by us." My daughter is growing up in a world where her favourite hair products are catered for by people that look exactly like her. Representation is key, and it matters to the highest level,” Lawrencia shared.
With the rise of black beauty brands either incorporated into the existing ones or entirely built to serve this niche, Lawrencia’s consultancy is at the forefront of reshaping the landscape and changing the narrative within the lifestyle, beauty and fashion industry. She is helping black brands, largely based in the United Kingdom, create awareness around their products.
“I started Lena Media because I am passionate about the growth of black-owned brands. We are living at a time where there are so many black entrepreneurs doing amazing things and most importantly creating iconic brands. I want to connect these brands to the mainstream press.”
“Their visibility matters. George Floyd’s case highlighted the need to profile and invest in black businesses as well as give them consideration in every area of life. There are plenty of amazing black-owned brands that need more attention to help them thrive.” Lawrencia explained.
Some of the brands Lena Media has worked with include Fante Gold, Tuffy Oils, Black Girl Sunscreen, Nicholas Kingsley, and many more.
The consultancy offers services in brand storytelling. They help clients create a narrative around their products that connects with consumers; Public Relations & Marketing for creating awareness as well as business development that helps pitch brands to retailers.

“I Wanted To Tell The World Their Story.”

Lawrencia’s journey into entrepreneurship is rooted in another of her pursuits; writing. She blogged and pitched stories to publications about lifestyle which presented her with the opportunity to talk to entrepreneurs. This is how she came across businesswomen from ethnic minority backgrounds.  
“I’ve always loved to write but never really had the confidence to start a blog. I was apprehensive no one would be interested in what I had to write. Nonetheless, in 2016, I started one and surprisingly, it enjoyed continuous growth. I then started to pitch feature articles to publications.

"Through this, I interviewed entrepreneurs from different industries but mostly those in lifestyle. I came across plenty of entrepreneurs from ethnic minority backgrounds which was amazing but they needed their voices to be heard,”
“I was inspired by the impact they were making globally. Some of my favourite interviews to date include ones I did with Ghanaian powerhouses Valerie Obaze and Menaye Donkor. I interviewed them for a UK publication ‘Black Beauty & Hair sharing with the world the great brands they built."

“In 2018, I decided to become a brand consultant. I wanted to help these entrepreneurs gain awareness and I had the network to do so. My first client was a massive sunscreen brand for Black women in the US in 2018. This laid a good foundation for me as it gave me the confidence to work with other clients. Also, it boosted me with the transferable skill sets I needed.”
Having expressed interest in writing on diverse topics, why did she decide to focus on lifestyle, beauty and the fashion industry?
“Initially, my blog was mainly about entrepreneurship and my passion for Ghana amongst other topics. One day, I wrote a post about the representation of black women in the media. I interviewed a few influencers and sent the article to a number of publications. I wasn’t expecting it to do as well as it did. From then on, my interest and passion in beauty grew.”

“I Had No Experience Running A Business.” 

Lena Media might be a small agency but it’s tapped into a relatively unexploited but growing market as Lawrencia noted: 

“More people are starting to know about us, though we are still small. This is because of the fact that we stay true to our word. Also, we are unique as there are not many agencies in the UK that solely work with black-owned brands.”
She accomplished all this without having previous experience establishing a company let alone running one. She was constantly reminded about the failure rate of new businesses - that a lot of them don't make it past the first year. Lucky for her, she had prior knowledge having worked closely with people in managerial positions in her previous work.
“I had no experience of running a business so I pretty much learnt how to do it by observing my managers and directors at my 9 to 5 job. I was keen to learn how they dealt with certain situations, how they spoke to clients and overcame difficult scenarios. 

"I would then put my own personal spin on it. Initially, I was a one-woman band, doing everything by myself from prospecting new clients, to account management and administration. As we keep growing, I have now built a team around me, albeit small.”

After three years of running the business, she decided to hit the refresh button and revitalise things. She did this in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a time when the economy rapidly slowed down due to the impact occasioned by the global health crisis.  
“Initially, I thought it would be difficult. However, the pandemic was somewhat of a blessing. The world stood still (well that is what it felt like) so it gave me a chance to restructure and pivot the business. 

"I had to change from employing staff face to face to doing it virtually. The same happened with pitching to new clients. Overall, it gave me time to really think and work on how the agency can work remotely which led to a complete change in structure.”

"It's Tough."

With her experience now, having built a business from the ground up, she is not short of lessons and advice she can give to upcoming entrepreneurs. Additionally, she admitted that it is a tough path but a clear sense of direction can keep you going. 
“Entrepreneurship can be lonely and there are times when you really need to motivate yourself. It can be difficult as you have no manager or director to motivate you. You’re the director. It is daunting; one month can be amazing and the next slow. There’s a great variation which is why hard work, faith and determination really pay off. The harder you work the better results you will receive.”
“If you want to go into business, believe in yourself and own your brand. You are your brand so own it. Have faith and do not be disheartened when you face rejection. Just keep going. Also, make sure you have an accountability partner from the beginning. It makes a big difference." 

"Invest in another individual who helps you to keep your goals and business commitments. Writing your goals down is very important as you can see what you have achieved. It is a real motivating factor.”

"Know What You Want." 

As per Simply Business, 29% of small businesses in the United Kingdom are owned by women. This represents an 18% growth within the last five years. It’s not clear how many of these are black-owned businesses. 

Even so, there is a surge to support female businesses and Lawrencia opined that for young black women, “opportunities are limitless. The major deciding factor is what you want to do.”
As that growth continues,  Lawrencia hopes that Lena Media will experience gradual growth and in the long run, have an international hub.
"Not to give too much away, but hopefully, the agency will grow and have an international hub. We also aim to continue empowering women all around the world and show them it is possible to achieve their goals.”

Let's Get Personal  

YAZA: You are of Ghanaian descent, born & bred in the UK. You wrote a post about potentially moving back to Ghana, how far have you gone with this? 
Lawrencia: “Funnily enough, I relocated to Ghana back in 2017 and wanted to carve out a career in media. I moved back to the UK a few months later due to personal reasons. However, I would never say never. 

There are so many amazing opportunities back home and would recommend individuals to at least try as it was always something I wanted to do, it was an interesting experience.”

YAZA: Between Ghana and London, which do you think presents better opportunities for you and your business and why? 
Lawrencia: “I would say for now London as most of my clientele resides in the UK and the US. For me it makes more sense to reside in the UK and for the company to be based here.”
YAZA: What have you found out about being a working mother that you didn’t already know or at least heard of? 
Lawrencia: “I am not going to pretend and say it is easy because it certainly is not. I am sure if it were, we would all be doing it. I make it work for e.g. scheduling meetings around her. 

As much as I love my business, my child is my priority and I do it for her to have a better future. At times I do have ‘mum guilt’ where you think I'm not focusing enough time on her, but I try my best to balance my time. My child will always be my priority.”