The saying ‘Black is Beautiful’ has come to mean so many things to Blacks and in recent times, the message of loving one’s skin tone no matter the shade is resonating on social media. Regardless of the recent hype, colorism is real and chemist Deirdre Roberson is using her clothing brand to preach against colorism and promote acceptance.
Roberson’s fashion brand Eumelanin is inspired by her love for STEM and creativity as she hopes to empower people of color in the world, one apparel after another. The name of the fashion brand, Eumelanin, (pronounced: you-mel-a-nin) is the actual scientific term that refers to the most abundant type of human melanin that forms the black and brown pigments of the skin. Roberson said the name was chosen to deliberately highlight the purpose of the brand which launched online in 2018.
After putting up the first set of T-Shirts with the chemical structures of melanin on them, they sold out instantaneously. Roberson said that was when she knew she had to tap into her creativity to create apparels that people can relate to.
She then decided to use her platform to preach against the division and invalidation that stem from colorism by designing clothing that celebrates the different dark hues and producing jewelry infused with the chemical structure of melanin.
Since she officially launched Eumelanin, it is already grossing five figures a month and selling online in more than 43 states. This venture gives her the opportunity to merge her scientific and creative sides by creating a “brand designed to redefine what it means to be beautiful in every shade; combining Science, Self-love, and Style.”
The clothing and accessories company is based in Detroit and it has won various awards and pitches to expand the brand. A year after Eumelanin launched online, it opened its first retail stores which feature The Melanin Wall, where shoppers can snap photos and post on their socials.
Roberson also applied for the Market at Macy’s program which earned Eumelanin space on the rails of the giant retail brand, and an opportunity to spread the message of acceptance and being confident in one’s own skin.
The Detroit native grew up dealing with colorism. The southwestern part of Detroit is also one of the most diverse populations in the city but Roberson experienced the devastating effects of colorism first-hand.
According to the full-time chemist, “colorism does not only affect black people, but people of color around the world.”
“Eumelanin is a brand designed to challenge behavior that does not honor any of us — behavior too many of us have accommodated and tolerated because we were afraid to speak up,” she said.
Colorism in the United States is a practice that began in times of slavery due to white slaveowners’ assertion that any person — black (African) or associated with blackness — was inferior or lowly.
Common practices of the time were to allow slaves with the lighter complexion (more commonly the offspring of the slave masters and their slaves) to engage in less strenuous usually domesticated duties while the darker, more African-looking slaves participated in hard labor, which was more than likely outdoors.
That is why Eumelanin’s founder Roberson has her work cut out for her but over the years, the support from the community and beyond has set her on the right path to rectifying the negative notions on colorism.
According to the company’s site, her vision for the brand is that it impacts the conversation and treatment of “colorism globally that celebrates self-love holistically and combats negativity associated with black and brown people around the world because of their skin tone.”