Supporting BIPOC Businesses – A Look Inside Dr. Bronner’s Small Business Mentoring Program

The journey to becoming a thriving, profitable natural products business can be an uphill climb. For Black women, success is often even more elusive due to the many ways that the deck is stacked against them. According to a study by American Express, Black women launch new businesses at a much higher rate than any other demographic group in the U.S., yet they face significant barriers to accessing capital, which is one of the primary determinants for entrepreneurial success [1].

JP Morgan also found that Black women entrepreneurs self-fund their business twice as frequently as White male entrepreneurs, in large part due to a lack of outside support. According to the Federal Reserve, 80.2% of White business owners are approved for bank funding, compared with 66.4% of BIPOC business owners [2]. Further, BIPOC-led companies received on average $30,000 less funding at an interest rate of 1.4% higher. It is no surprise that, according to Fundera, Black women-led businesses earn an average of $24,000 in net revenue, compared to $142,900 among all women-owned businesses [3].

In addition to financial capital, mentorship has proven to be a key factor in the long-term viability of a new business. Mentoring allows an entrepreneur to expand their networks, access industry expertise, and make better decisions faster. In a study by SCORE, entrepreneurs with a mentor are 12% more likely to survive their first year in business than those without a mentor [4]. Fintech company, Kabbage reported that 92% of small businesses stated that mentors directly impact their growth. It is no accident that most of the world’s most prominent global business leaders have benefitted from informal or formal mentoring as they built their companies [5][6].

This is why Dr. Bronner’s launched our Small Business Mentoring Program in 2022. Dr. Bronner’s stands on 75 years of success making the United States’ top selling brand of natural soap. As our company continues to grow, we wanted to share our knowledge, experience, history, and connections to help uplift BIPOC-owned natural products businesses and support their long-term success.

The Small Business Mentoring Program is an in-depth, cross-functional partnership where members of the Dr. Bronner’s team are in direct mentoring relationships with staff at the partner company. Every staff person at the partner company has access to our team. In order to devote our full attention to our mentoring partner company, we select just one company at a time to work with.

Our 2022-2023 Partnership

Small Business Mentoring Program
Maritza, Kaya and Sativa Murray, Founders and Owners of Dirt Don’t Hurt

In our inaugural year, Dr. Bronner’s worked with Dirt Don’t Hurt, a San Diego-based all-natural, plant-based skin and toothcare line founded and owned by three sisters – Sativa, Maritza, and Kaya. In 2017, as they were pregnant and starting their own families, the sisters wanted to improve the quality of their personal care products: desiring products that were cleansing, earth- and plant-based, and detoxifying. When they couldn’t find what they were looking for, they started making their own products to share with their friends, family, and community. As their enthusiastic base of product users grew, they launched Dirt Don’t Hurt so they could share their activated charcoal, earth clay, and essential oil based products more widely.

Over twenty Dr. Bronner’s staff members participated in mentoring Dirt Don’t Hurt. They provided expertise and advice on topics like media and PR, brand strategy, retail account acquisition and management, launching an Amazon store, mass market distribution, preparing for a tradeshow, upgrading financial and sales dashboards, demo booths in retail stores, and leadership of family-run businesses. Our team also made crucial introductions to mass market distributors, sales brokers, regional retailers, and media influencers.

Small Business Mentoring Program
The Dirt Don’t Hurt Team with Gina Coccari, Senior National Sales Manager at Dr. Bronner’s

Dirt Don’t Hurt was able to relaunch its Amazon store, expand into several more retail locations, make key decisions about distribution and growth, showcase their products at Expo West, and most recently they participated in the Buy from a Black Woman accelerator program, which helped them become a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).

Today you can find Dirt Don’t Hurt at Northern California and San Diego-based Whole Foods stores, a variety of small natural grocers in California, Amazon.com, and at special events like H&M’s Buy from a Black Woman popups, and VegFest Los Angeles. You can also follow Dirt Don’t Hurt on Instagram!

2023-2024 Partnership

Small Business Mentoring Program
Abena Boamah-Acheampong, Founder, Hanahana

We are excited to announce our second mentoring partnership with Chicago and Ghana-based Hanahana Beauty. Founded in 2017 by Abena Boamah-Acheampong, Hanahana is a line of body care products with a mission of beauty intention, using shea that is ethically sourced from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Tamale, Ghana. Their product line includes their signature body butters, exfoliating bar after shower bar, and detoxifying mask.

In Spring 2023, Hanahana launched in Ulta Stores nationwide, and they can also be found in JC Penney and Revolve.com.

Dr. Bronner’s Favorites

Small Business Mentoring Program

My family loves Dirt Don’t Hurt’s Charcoal + Clay Mineral Face Mask. The mask goes on smooth, rich and buttery – with frankincense and tea tree essential oils, it is clarifying and purifying. My face always looks brighter and clearer when I take off this amazing mask. Because I travel back and forth to San Diego a lot for work, I love using it to remove travel grime off of my face. My teenager loves it too because it is a fantastic acne fighter, calming down redness, and leaving skin exfoliated and soft. This mask is really a superhero!

Small Business Mentoring Program Christina Volgyesi, Dr. Bronner’s Vice President of Marketing, says, “I’ve fallen in love with Hanahana Shea Body Butters, and I’m not a body butter or lotion gal! The slightly sweet scent of Amber Vanilla is divine as is the Shea Body Butter’s whipped light texture and nourishing after-feel. It’s so hydrating my skin glows. I use it whenever my skin needs a little love and incorporate it into my after-shower ritual. I can’t get enough!”

Author Profile
Alissa Hauser

Alissa Hauser is the Project Manager in Dr. Bronner’s Constructive Capital Department, working with Dr. Bronner’s nonprofit and charitable partners all over the U.S. Alissa has two decades of experience as a nonprofit executive, and is a passionate social change activist and joyous vegan.

See all stories by Alissa Hauser