Changing the face of beauty

Buttah beauty

Dorion Renaud, multi-hyphenate and founder of Buttah Skin, shares his industry journey from outsider to CEO

Monday 20 June 2022   By Britt Julious   Photography by Michael Nyembo

Dorion Renaud is not your typical beauty founder and CEO. Not only is he also an actor and influencer, but he’s walked an unconventional path to get his skincare line, Buttah Skin, stocked in Ulta Beauty, seen in the pages of Vogue, and beloved by a growing legion of followers since its launch in 2018. 

Whether it’s Buttah’s proprietary formulations for ‘melanin-rich skin’ or a company-wide dedication to fostering community, Renaud, the rare Black male entrepreneur in the world of beauty, is not afraid to deviate from industry practices to set his brand apart from competitors.  ‘I’ve created Buttah for not only my needs, but for the needs of other people around me,’ he says. 

Renaud comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His father held several companies, including a shoe shop, barbers, and electrician business. ‘Although I knew that I was an entertainer, I [also] knew that one day I’d step into his shoes and become an entrepreneur,’ says Renaud. ‘In my wildest dreams, I would have never thought that [I], as a Black man, would be in the beauty space.’ 

Yet his transition into the industry was as much a necessity as it was a natural fit. Having grown up with family members who touted the benefits of Vaseline as a skin care product, Renaud didn’t discover shea butter, one of the key ingredients in his Buttah Skin line, until he began modelling in New York. 

However, he soon discovered that finding equitable products while walking into any major department store was tricky, often impossible. Creating Buttah Skin was a response to the lack of product on the mainstream market. 

Although wanting to create a brand and actually running a business are different things. For Renaud, it has been a challenging yet rewarding learning process. From developing product formulations in the lab to understanding advertising and audience engagement, he has dived in head first, stepping up to the responsibilities as the leader of a still-rising beauty brand. ‘It’s been hard at times to adjust to being a boss and a CEO,’ he says. ‘I’ve had to learn every little nook and cranny of running a business so that I can stay at the head of my company.’

But one of the biggest challenges Renaud’s had to overcome is simply being a Black entrepreneur – a Black man – in the beauty world. When one thinks about the world of beauty, they don’t often think about Black men. And although Renaud says he did not face outright discrimination, he has encountered ‘some eyebrows being raised’ by others upon seeing the face behind the brand. ‘It was a lot of stigma on me as a man,’ he says. 

A less tangible, yet still major hurdle that he’s come across is the stigma within his own community. ‘As a Black man, we are taught to be strong. We are taught to be courageous and protective. And I realised that a lot of my fellow brothers were insecure about using skincare products because they thought that it emasculated them,’ begins Renaud. ‘It’s been a goal of mine to really encourage men that using skincare products and taking care of your skin makes you stronger. It doesn’t make you weaker.’

Renaud credits his success so far in touching this hard-to-reach audience with Buttah Skin’s overall, community-first approach to business. He does one-on-one calls with fans of Buttah just to hear from them and thank them. ‘This brand does not run without people,’ Renaud says. ‘If it works, chances are you are going to tell somebody about it.’ 

Fans continue to spread the word, whether it’s at church, at the bank, or anywhere in between. ‘It goes bigger and deeper than me entertaining people,’ Renaud says about success. ‘I am a part of their most vulnerable part of the day, when they are washing their makeup off or washing their body. To hear from the public how much they love the products [has been] mind-blowing and so rewarding.’ 

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