A beauty brand that’s relatively new to the province is already making waves in the industry. SBBC sat down with Queenfidence Cosmetics founder Francine Bahati to learn more about her brand’s story of resilience, empowerment, and confidence.
When Francine was a young girl, she was a refugee in Africa. Originally from Congo, her family became refugees in Uganda before later immigrating to Canada.
“I had a history of this low self-esteem, in not believing in myself because as a young girl or refugee in a foreign country, we had so many people used to bully me,” she said.
“Because of that, because words are very powerful, those really affected how I look at myself,” she said. The bullying she experienced “killed” her confidence, but she held onto her dreams. In 2017, after immigrating to Winnipeg, Francine launched her company.
“For me, Queenfidence is just more than just a beauty brand,” said Francine. “My dream was always to create a beauty brand that inspires people to feel beautiful…so I use beauty as a tool to inspire and empower women and remind them that you are beautiful inside and out,” she said.
While status quo beauty standards have changed over the years, most images we see promoting beauty products show a narrow standard that values thinness over fatness, whiteness over colour, and youth over age.
Queenfidence sets its own beauty standards by highlighting beauty in all its forms, using models of different ages, skin tones, and sizes. Now, people who have felt left behind by the beauty industry are seeing themselves at last reflected in the products they use.
Industry gap as an opportunity
According to Francine, most brands in the beauty industry are product-driven and lack diversity and inclusivity in their messaging.
“As a black woman, it was very difficult for me to go to stores to buy foundation or lipstick to actually match my skin,” she said. Filling this gap in the industry is partly what sets Queenfidence apart.
“When you support Queenfidence , you’re supporting a dream. I want to inspire a new immigrant who wants to start their own business, I want to be a point of reference for them,” said Francine.
Connecting with your network to grow your business
Francine encourages other aspiring business owners to stay open and be students of life. “Don’t be afraid to knock on doors,” said Francine. There was a time in her business journey when she had to create a pitch deck, and she reached out to another business owner for help. She got support, and now she encourages other business owners to do the same.
“Whether you are in your 60s, whether you’re young, whether you’re black or brown, I want people to find your place in business and something that empowers you and that you know you are enough,” she said.
As a small business owner who’s new to BC, Francine says Queenfidence could use more support with funding.
Francine has been self-funded since the start of her business. With more funding, she would invest in marketing at a bigger scale to increase brand awareness. “It can be tough…so many times I wanted to give up,” said Francine, but she stayed persistent. She would like to see more grants available for small business owners.
“It breaks my heart to see people quit too early…I want to see a lot of women out here!”
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