By by Georgina Caldwell

Texan entrepreneur Kevin Lyles has launched an online marketplace for women of color, according to a report published by The Glow Up.

The Dooplex champions small and lesser-known minority-owned brands catering for women of color's hair and skin care needs such as Dr. Earles Skin & Hair, KitiKiti, BBD King and Indigo. The site also carries a blog, named Doo-Rag.

"We are political, and we're not afraid of being political. We're not afraid of saying who we are and having that open communication and conversation that black women have every day, like they would have in a salon. But this way, they're going to have it online."

"We want to say that women of color are not an afterthought; this is not the 'ethnic aisle'. This is for them, with them in mind, with them in the front of our minds, and we want to offer products to them that work."

By Maiysha Kai

Looking for an entirely for-us, by-us, one-stop shop for hair and beauty products? Welcome to the Dooplex, a new online marketplace hoping to elevate the black beauty industry to the next level.

Launched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018, the Dooplex is the brainchild of CEO Kevin Lyles, who left a corporate career in Texas to return to his native Gary, Ind., to help his family's 29-year-old beauty-and-barber supply company, Milizette. Witnessing the ways that his hometown was dying because of the loss of industry and jobs, Lyles sought to give back to the community and help small black-owned salons and beauty suppliers stay afloat by selling their product online. Enter friends and partners Roger Fountain and Jacob Williams who are helping Lyles bring his vision to life through the Dooplex. In addition to offering options from lesser-known black- and minority-owned skin- and hair-care brands, starting with Dr. Earles Skin & Hair, KitiKiti, BBD King and Indigo, the team are also offering community and kinship through their blog, Doo-Rag.

"We are political, and we're not afraid of being political. We're not afraid of saying who we are and having that open communication and conversation that black women have every day, like they would have in a salon. But this way, they're going to have it online."

Their autonomy to craft and convey their own unique message, as well as curate offerings specific to the needs of women of color, derives from the fact that the Dooplex is independently funded. While their pace of growth may be slow and steady compared with other startups, there are no venture capitalists editing their messaging or watering down their products, each of which is salon-tested and professional-grade.

"I think it's important that we make sure that our customers know that the lines that they're buying are black and minority-owned. ... It's never been more relevant than right now. And that is something our customers really respond to—it doesn't have to always be these big cosmetic companies that are the powerhouse. You know, these smaller lines are out there; they've been chugging along in the black community doing really well for women for a long time. It's just that now we have a national platform for them, through e-commerce."

As the Dooplex continues to grow, future plans include a possible in-house label, which would create local jobs, as well as philanthropic efforts to help revitalize the city of Gary, potentially through the creation of a nonprofit. But for now, that growth depends heavily on word of mouth and ensuring that the customers the Dooplex was created to serve know that a space exclusively for them now exists,

"We want to say that women of color are not an afterthought; this is not the "ethnic aisle." This is for them, with them in mind, with them in the front of our minds, and we want to offer products to them that work. ... For us, first and foremost are our customers, and what works for them and what they need."

There is a new beauty platform that is geared toward women of color.

According to a press release sent to EBONY, The Dooplex serves to offer beauty products for women of color and guess what? The products are created and manufactured by black-owned manufacturers and businesses.

Launched on Martin Luther King Day of this year, The Dooplex was founded by Roger Fountain, Jacob Williams and Kevin Lyles.

The Dooplex currently offers four professional grade hair and skincare brands for women of color. The company plans to expand their product base in the near future.

The site also serves as an open forum for women of color. For more information visit, www.thedooplex.com.

A one-stop online destination of beauty products for women of color — that's probably the best way to describe The Dooplex, a newly launched e-commerce beauty platform. Founded by college friends Roger Fountain, Jacob Williams, and Kevin Lyles, whose family has run a barbershop since the 1980s, The Dooplex offers both hair and skincare products created and manufactured by Black and minority-owned businesses. There are products from such companies as BBD, KitiKiti, Indigo, and Dr. Earles.

The Dooplex launched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018, and also features a blog called "The Doo Rag" which aims to provide a space where people can converse about lifestyle topics like beauty, politics, life, and family. The founders of The Dooplex told MadameNoire how they find the products for their site and why it's the right time for a site like this.

MadameNoire (MN): How did the idea for The Dooplex come about?

The original idea for The Dooplex came from our CEO Kevin Lyles. His family's been in the Black beauty business since the mid-80s and after a long stint in Corporate America he came back to Gary, Indiana, to take over the family business and give back to his community. Kevin's a super-smart guy and after a few years it dawned on him that there were some really great Black regional brands that could benefit from a nationwide platform.

MN: What does the name mean?

Kevin Lyles (KL): In the Black community everyone knows what a doo is, so we just played with the word. It really has a double meaning. We bow down to our heritage but we also wanted to create a word that communicated who we are. The Dooplex isn't an afterthought for women of color, it's a primary destination built especially for them. A place where they can share their thoughts, shop, and feel wanted and appreciated.

MN: How did you fund the startup?

Roger Fountain (RF): No venture capital. No deep pockets. We're the little engine that will. We use family money our own resources and we work our asses off.

MN: How does The Dooplex work?

Jacob Williams (JW): Essentially, we're like an online Sephora, except our entire experience is focused on women of color.

MN: How do you find the products to sell?

KL: There is no shortage of great Black products out there. We have relationships with the brands we currently carry, but since we've launched brands are finding us. We not only look for high-quality brands, but we also look for brands that care about their community.

MN: What makes the Dooplex different?

KL: We are political. We are Black-owned and all of our products are manufactured by Black and minority-owned businesses — and that will always remain true.

MN: How do you market The Dooplex?

We use social media and hired a young, scrappy publicist who is a genius. We also have a newsletter, the Doo Rag blog, with sections such as "Women We Admire" and "Black-Owned" where we communicate our point of view. We are an e-commerce site, but we're also a sounding board for our community. We are them and they are us. Their politics are our politics. Their concerns are our concerns. And their desires are our desires. We hear them. So, yes we are selling products but we're also a place to communicate ideas and passion. Quite honestly, Black women have been burned over and over by companies promising to have them in mind only to offer back-of-the-bus marketing and second-rate "ethnic aisle" products. That will never happen here.

MN: What are your goals for 2018?

RF: We intend to continue to build awareness and trust in The Dooplex brand. Also, midterms are coming up, and we want to make sure we can do whatever we can to get people of color to the polls.

MN: What advice would you give others on working with friends?

JW: Work hard. Stay focused. Leave your egos at the door and keep your eyes on the prize. Stuff is gonna' happen, both good and bad, just remember why you started what you started and never forget you are stronger together. In other words, sh-t happens. Get over it.

The growing conversation about representation in the beauty world has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. And it shouldn't. As consumers become increasingly vocal — calling out brands when they make a misstep or blatantly exclude a group of people — some brands have responded by making diversity a priority in all facets of their businesses. From the models they cast in their ad campaigns to the shade ranges of their base products, it's a big step that's long overdue.

While many strides have been made in terms of inclusivity in the beauty space, companies often still fall short. And seeing repeated failures can get frustrating in 2018, a time when brands should definitely know better. Even the shopping experience can get frustrating because of limited selections for customers of color. (Personally, I've been let down on more than one occasion when looking for natural hair products.)

In light of that, I've been looking to support more business owned by people of color — ones that truly try to meet my needs. The Dooplex, a new online shop that launched this year, seems to truly get it.

Longtime college friends Kevin Lyles, Roger Fountain, and Jacob Williams teamed up to create their own digital destination, with the goal of catering to black people and their beauty concerns. Launched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018, The Dooplex features a carefully curated mix of minority-owned hair and skin care products. "We sell products that help our customers maintain healthy hair, create flexible styling options, and give flawless complexions. Each and every product line we carry has been used extensively in salons, and comes with a track record of performance by discerning customers," the founding team told Teen Vogue.

Alongside the e-commerce platform is their Doo Rag Blog, which spotlights inspiring, professional women of color. There are also informative posts filled with thoughtful tips, as well as product recommendations for common beauty woes. "The voice and content of the site are as important to us as our sales. We want the site to feel like a place that represents the conversations women of color have every day. From politics to beauty, gender issues, parenting, love, sex and race, we're hoping to tell the story of beauty through the lens of these topics," they explained.

Above all, The Dooplex hopes to create a more fun and inviting beauty shopping experience for women of color. Though it's only a month old, the brands they've started off with are quite promising. Ahead, find seven Teen Vogue-approved picks from the site.

Dr. Earles Hair & Scalp Care System, $35 Courtesy of The Dooplex.

DR. EARLES HAIR & SCALP CARE SYSTEM, $35

An antidote for a dry and itchy scalp, the Dr. Earles hair system is comprised of a shampoo and scalp treatment. The duo works in conjunction to rid the hair follicles of buildup, banish dandruff, and soothe irritation — all without stripping it of nourishing oils.Courtesy of The Dooplex.

DR. EARLES BLEMISH REMOVER & HYDRATING CREAM, $20

Nothing is more frustrating than the dark marks that acne bumps tend to leave behind, especially on darker skin tones. While they normally fade with time, you can speed up the process with Dr. Earles' skin brightening, oil-free moisturizer, which also helps keep your face hydrated — and not greasy — all day long.Indigo Edge Glyde, $18 Courtesy of The Dooplex.

INDIGO EDGE GLYDE, $18

Every black woman needs a strong edge control in her arsenal to slick down baby hairs and keep flyaways at bay. Not only will this one from Indigo keep your hair in place, it's also packed with healthy ingredients that promote hair growth. Bonus: You can also use it as a curling pomade for heat styling.



Indigo Herbal Nourishment Conditioner, $35 Courtesy of The Dooplex.

INDIGO HERBAL NOURISHMENT CONDITIONER, $35

While regular deep conditioning is an important step in every haircare routine, it's especially vital for kinky/curly hair textures, since they're prone to dryness. Formulated without hair-clogging ingredients, this deep conditioner will give your mane a well-needed boost of hydration while leaving it with a lasting shine in between wash days.BBD King Keala Oil, $25 Courtesy of The Dooplex.

BBD KING KEALA OIL, $25

This lightweight oil, which comes in cherry and pineapple scents, is equally moisturizing on your hair and body. Dispense a dollop on your palms and rake it throughout your strands for extra shine.BBD King Stop Breakage Braid Growth Creme, $35Courtesy of The Dooplex.

BBD KING STOP BREAKAGE BRAID GROWTH CREME, $35

One of the most common problems found amongst naturalistas is excessive breakage because of brittle and dry strands. This potent vegan moisturizer for braided styles keeps hair hydrated, even while it's tucked away.


KitiKiti Medicated Treatment Conditioner I, $16Courtesy of The Dooplex.

KITIKITI MEDICATED TREATMENT CONDITIONER I, $16

Prescription-grade conditioners are great for when your scalp needs extra TLC. Infused with calming aloe, this KitiKiti medicated conditioner deeply penetrates the hair shaft to restore moisture and give you the best hair days,