TULSA, Okla.- Jasmine Bear (Osage/Mvskoke/Cherokee/Choctaw/Seminole) is an Indigenous business owner, and the founder of Bearshaw Beauty. She has been running the business for over a year now. Her inspiration for starting it was to provide more natural beauty product options for customers.
Bearshaw Beauty is a family affair. Bear receives assistance with the business from her sisters, Honey Bear and Brit Bear. The latter makes Cherokee baskets. Jasmine Bear is very appreciative of her sisters, and their help with her business. Bear’s sisters both have extensive knowledge on the products Bearshaw Beauty offers.
The products Bearshaw Beauty sells are gender neutral and are made for any skin type. “It’s more of a natural option instead of European products that have a lot of ingredients, so I wanted something more simple that your body will love,” Bear said. She takes great care when handling products and the containers for them, she wants them to be safe for anyone to use.
Bear never went through cosmetology school for skin care, however she has done extensive research to learn about the different ingredients she uses. This is to ensure they are safe. She simply wants the best fit for her customers. “I enjoy it and it’s kind of like baking but with shea butter instead of real butter,” Bear said.
When looking for raw material, she uses ingredients like shea butter, which is imported from Ghana. She also uses cacao butter imported from Peru. Bear loves to include grape seed oil or apricot oil because it is lighter than coconut oil.
Bear’s most popular product so far is her honeysuckle lip balm. She mentioned that the reason for its popularity is because honeysuckle is a hard flavor to find. “It’s only four ingredients in the lip balms so your lips don’t get addicted to it and it’s all natural so people seem to really like that one a lot,” Bear said.
Natural and Local
Bear believes skin care is very important. “Because the skin is the biggest organ you have, I think it’s important to stay hydrated and take care of it,” Bear said.
Bear’s products are currently sold at Southwest Trading company in Tulsa. Bear has also received requests from other Indigenous stores in Oklahoma interested in featuring her products.
Bear has set up her booth at various locations and events. This has helped with sales because it allows people to test the product for themselves. Her next stop is Tulsa for Native American Day.
“When I debuted my business last year, I had really great feedback and it was a really good turnout. I made a ton of sales and debuted a lot of my products,” Bear said. “I am really good with booth set ups because I used to do promo five years ago and so I’m used to setting up that booth, I’m glad I have that experience to apply to now.”
On top of receiving positive feedback from the community, the venture has experienced growth. “It has been growing to a point where I do need more space for all of my ingredients and materials. There’s a lot that I need and I need a lot of working space,” Bear said.
Before the end of the year, Bear intends to come out with a new recipe for hair, body oil and lotion. She has even ordered biodegradable lotion bottles for the new products. While making her lotion, she understands it involves a lot of trial and error because it is her first time including water as an ingredient, which includes a preservative.
According to Bear, it can be challenging for first-time business owners trying to build a company from the ground up. However, in spite of the challenges she believes it is a venture everyone is capable of doing.
“Be sure to take care of yourself, starting your business is very exciting when new ideas are flowing, but beware of overworking yourself,” Bear said. “Remember to step away, maybe take in some sun, because self care and mental health is very important.”
The word about Bearshaw Beauty’s brand has spread. Some of Bear’s customers are even using her products as gifts for family members. The venture that first started out as a hobby has now grown into another career for Bear.
Bear has always been into skincare and makeup. “I think I started in the sixth grade, well I have three older sisters so they showed me things really young on how to do eyeshadow and trying out new styles,” Bear said.
Growing up Bear never saw Indigenous-made beauty products on the shelf at the store. “I can’t bead and can’t do ribbon work but beauty products I started making. The feedback that I received was like, ‘it’s so nice that there is a natural beauty product that is Indigenous owned and operated,’” Bear said.
Bear wants to open her own local shop, and eventually branch out to different locations. She is also looking to expand the brand’s name to “Bearshaw Beauty Boutique”, in order to include a wider range of products including shampoos, conditioners, and bath bombs.
Snag Dating App
In addition to selling natural beauty products, Bear has also recently launched a new dating and social media app called Snag. The new app is available on Apple and Android devices and contains a feature called Native Network. According to Bear, the feature is similar to Facebook.
The app’s other component provides a matchmaking feature called snag. This functions as a dating feature that can connect users with other Indigenous users. According to Bear, she has not seen a lot of activity within the dating feature yet, however she is seeking ways to spread the word about it among local Indigenous communities.
Bear has come across other dating apps, but has never seen one for Indigenous people, she wanted to be the person to create it.
Dating apps for adults are not the only mobile device service Bear is interested in providing for her fellow Indigenous people. She also wants to develop an app for children where they can identify their tribe, and connect with other children from different tribes. This could help children learn more about other tribes, and help contribute information on the app.
“They don’t put it in schools so all of the kids are on their tablets and phones so I feel like it’ll be easier to download. I don’t want to make money off of that so it’ll just be free,” Bear said.