By Jacob Le, OMN photographer
Melanin Minerals is a minority-owned business located in Corvallis, Ore. that specializes in all natural, CBD-infused handcrafted beauty products and has had to adjust during the pandemic with how they conduct their sales and make products.
The idea for the business first came up in Sept. 2018, and it was launched on Feb. 1, 2019. The owner of Melanin Minerals is Johannah Hamilton who is also a Ph.D. student in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved in this cannabis and hemp industry due to how Black people and other people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the ‘war on drugs,’” Hamilton said. “Despite the fact that thousands of people are getting mega-rich and building their own wealth across the country from cannabis and hemp, there are still millions of people in jail for it, majority of those being Black, Indigenous and people of color.”
Hamilton said moving to Ore. from the south, there was some culture shock with how differently cannabidiol products are treated here. Where she’s from, CBD was almost taboo, whereas in Ore. it is a norm especially with the Farm Bill that was passed in 2018.
“You could find CBD products in stores like Fred Meyer, Market of Choice and all over really,” Hamilton said. “I’ve also always loved bath bombs and other bath and soap products, but I have really sensitive skin so sometimes certain products would break me out. That’s when I realized I could combine my love for bath and body products with my passion for social justice and start a CBD infused skincare line.”
Despite thousands of companies and small businesses going under because of COVID-19, Melanin Minerals’ sales instead started to increase during this time. Hamilton said she thinks this happened because they are online and from the spark of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, leading supporters to choose to shop from Black-owned businesses.
Melanin Minerals is home-based as of now but Hamilton said she hopes to get a small space this year or early next year so that her home doesn’t operate as much like a factory.
Emalydia Flenory, Melanin Minerals ambassador, has been a customer of the business for two years since they began. She has been able to try almost all of their products in her role and said some of her favorites are the CBD face masks, CBD toner, CBD sugar scrubs and the daytime moisturizer.
“I love that everything is handmade, and I can tell that a lot of love and care goes into each product,” Flenory said. “The packaging is really cute and all of the scented products smell amazing!”
Zahra Joseph, Melanin Minerals customer, said that there are many things that make this business unique with how it is minority-owned, founded by a Black woman and has CBD incorporated products. She also said their customer service is great and has not had any complaints about it.
“The products work very well for me,” Joseph said. “I’d consider them high quality. They work better than some higher-end brands in my opinion.”
The business is doing well right now and has slowed down after the holiday season. Hamilton tries to balance attending graduate school with her business along with other campus and city involvement.
“I’m finally coming down from the high of holiday sales so I can breathe a little easier right now, just a lot of growing pains,” Hamilton said. “I just need to get a team together so I can be more hands-off with the business.”
Hamilton wants Melanin Minerals to grow to become a common household skincare name. Her overall goal is to get farmland and grow her own herbs and ingredients. She also wants to use that farm to teach BIPOC and other marginalized groups including veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community how to farm and grow their own food.
“The OSU and Corvallis community definitely contributed a lot to our growth,” Hamilton said.