A popular e-commerce company called Made With Melanin suddenly started making waves over the summer, shortly after the Black Lives Matter movement took off once again in June. However, once users started to speculate that the company was not Black-owned and was, instead, profiting off of the Black community, it disappeared almost as quickly as it came. Now, it’s trying to re-brand.
The company, which does not explicitly mention on its website that it is Black-owned, sells products that encourage consumers to take pride in their melanated skin. The clothing and accessories brand simply says on its website that it supports the Black community, but clearly implies that its owners are Black without saying so.
Users began to notice that the company was misrepresenting itself after it was reaching out en-masse to people on social media asking them to become brand ambassadors. Not all of the users that the company reached out to were Black, though the company mostly sells t-shirts and other products that say things like “Black Girl Magic” and “Melanin Poppin’,” though there are a few products that simply say “Black Lives Matter.”
One user, a TikTok creator named @jazmynjw, posted on the app to describe her experience after the company reached out to her to be a brand ambassador. “We should actually be looking into whether companies like this are Black-owned before we blindly follow them and promote their product,” said Jazmyn in a TikTok video. Tons of users in the comments section claimed the company also reached out to them, regardless of whether they were Black or not.
Since then, the TikTok video has garnered a quarter million views and over 30,000 likes. Grit Daily reached out to Made With Melanin with a request for comment from the company, but the company did not respond. Instead, it changed its name to Black Magic Co. and deleted its Instagram account, which had over 500,000 followers just last week. Since then the company has re-created its Instagram account under a new name, and directs users to a new website that has the same branding as its old website, Made With Melanin. Both websites—Made With Melanin and Black Magic Co.—are live and use the same branding and images to sell the same product.
A YouTube video from a creator named Kimberley Renee discusses how Made With Melanin preys on Black social media users to use them as brand ambassadors details how the brand misrepresents itself as a Black-owned company. In most cases when social media users ask the company if it’s Black-owned, the business stops responding. Products on the company’s website are listed for prices that range from $25 to $50, but the products themselves are allegedly ordered in mass quantities or drop-shipped from China at extremely low costs and sold for much more. In some cases, products on the site that are being sold for more than $25 can be found elsewhere for less than $2. Photos associated with the brand, when run through a reverse image search, reveal that they’re stock images that can be found on advertisements for other products, including a social media post from Dove body care from last summer.
The YouTube creator eventually describes how she thinks she may have found the real owner of Made With Melanin (and now Black Magic Co.), and alleges that the owner is actually a white man. A Better Business Bureau profile for the company says that it’s based in Boston and that the Better Business Bureau file was not opened until October 2020, but social media users that the company reached out to about the ambassador program say that the company claims to be much older. At the very least, it appears to have started selling products around June of 2020, the same time that the Black Lives Matter movement took off once again in response to the death of George Floyd.
Meanwhile, reviews on websites like Trust Pilot and Scam Detector reveal that the company has received dozens of complaints—both for its service and for its ambassador program, which seems to operate as more of a growth hack than a legitimate influencer marketing campaign. The company appears to own multiple brands in addition to Made With Melanin and Black Magic Co., and
Grit Daily has reached out to Made With Melanin and Black Magic Co. for comment. Neither immediately responded, but we will update this piece with their statements.