Lorraine James wants @Bar to be the new black Sephora

Lorraine James is the beauty visionary behind @Bar London, the new home of raw, natural artisan beauty for women of colour in the UK, made by black women around the world.

Lorraine James (above, right) is a retail entrepreneur with a difference, her company @Bar is giving women of colour the chance to showcase and retail their brand, in some cases – for the first time, Lorraine has created a haven for women of colour to enjoy  products formulated for them, plus friendly staff expertly trained on each brand. With a new store that opened this month in London’s busy Willesden Green, Dr Clare Anyiam-Osigwe caught up with Lorraine to get her first ever online interview exclusive to BBH.

What is the concept of @Bar and how did you come up with the name?
The aim of @Bar London is to provide women of colour a one stop shop for all their brown beauty, hair and cosmetics needs and to support and promote entrepreneurs entering this industry. We will do this by giving them the opportunity by way of a platform to showcase their products and services in a retail environment at an affordable price.
The long term vision is to see a nice upmarket venue where women of colour can purchase all their hair and beauty needs under one roof, have their hair washed and styled in under 40 minutes and have a fab chill out space where they can relax have a nice organic coffee and healthy smoothies and snacks. Hence @Bar,  a beauty bar, coffee bar and a blow-dry bar.
We will also provide an online presence on the company website, where each entrepreneur will have a profile telling their story and why they have set up their business. Their products will be listed and available for online retail purchase.
As entrepreneurs we understand that if you haven’t got the right financial backing it’s hard to make a start, so @Bar Beauty Boutique is here to help by getting you to understand and test the retail market.


@Bar will give black beauty entrepreneurs the platform to reach their target audience

What do you love and loath about existing beauty stores?
The loathing is that many do not cater for us and cannot supply our demand and do not have any products formulated for our colouring, hair or skin type. The ones that do ae not black owned!
I love Sephora but cannot find them in the United Kingdom anymore. I loved the way you could just walk in try many different cosmetic ranges and perfumes and the staff knew what they were talking about.  They were also enthusiastic about their products.  I also love Lush. The smell alone as you walk past their stores is enough to entice you in.  Again the staff are helpful and enthusiastic.

Can you predict any hair or beauty trends that black women will be wearing this summer?
Rainbow roots especially those who have the grey hair colour thing going on. Also vivid purple or rose gold shades. Pink and gold yeah I’m feeling it and if I was younger Hell Yeah! One of our ranges Black Secret Make Up has lipsticks called Shockin and Bordeaux that will complement the hair colours fabulously.

You’re also a tax consultant, with over 20 years experience in luxury retail – why is now the time for you to become a beauty entrepreneur?
The gap in the market is still there. I’m nearing the end of my forties, so to have my daughter complaining about the same issues that l faced at her age, something seriously needs to be done. Also there are women that have taken to their kitchen sinks to make products formulated for our colouring hair or skin type but have no retail outlet. The time is now.

What advice would you give to young girls looking up to you about opening a beauty emporium?
Go For It! Do your research. Get feedback; good or bad and utilise the information wisely. Do your due diligence. Plug that gap.


Visitors check out the products on sale at the @Bar opening Willesden

Who are your inspirations?
Oprah as she is a powerhouse and Jada Pinkett-Smith as she is not afraid to speak her mind or make a stand. Truly inspirational and stunning too. Both use their fame to get the message across.

What’s next for @Bar?
To grow and be the black Sephora of the UK. For @Bar London  to be a recognised name on the high street. Imagine a fully black owned beauty chain in all four corners of London, then UK wide.

Sum up an @Bar vendor in 3 words
Entrepreneurial, talented and gifted.

Tell us a organic secret that you’ve discovered?
Shetai Hair Care Hair Butter. It provides the right level of moisture to my hair and keeps it moist as it’s  penetrative not just coating the hair shaft. Shetai Hair Care is a very small company who joined us before Xmas 2015 and l predict great things for them in 2016.

Trapped on a desert island, what three products and/or tools are your must haves?
Eyeliner,  mascara and toothbrush. Black Secret Makeup UK and oral hygiene tools on our website will cater.

Where can we find you?


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