As of next year, Ward 7 will be home to a brand-new makerspace for founders in the beauty industry.
The Yeleen Beauty Makerspace, currently under construction at 3443 Benning Road NE, is designed to provide manufacturing and business assistance to local beauty entrepreneurs — especially those of color. The approximately 3,000 square-foot space will offer a teaching lab featuring in-house chemists to learn about mixing products; a manufacturing facility with the capacity to do 250-to-500-kilo batches of products; a small retail space to sell products on-site; and a media room where founders can take videos and photos of their products.
Rahama Wright, the force behind the space and founder of Shea Yeleen, said the makerspace is intended to uplift small beauty founders looking for assistance.
“Most manufacturing facilities are making 1000 pounds higher in terms of their sizes,” Wright said. “So we’re really focusing on the small, focusing on creating a space that will be designed for small businesses and small batch manufacturing.”
The space’s teaching lab can accommodate anywhere from two to 10 people at a time, Wright said, and founders will be able to reserve time in the facility as needed (she anticipates about 200 slots per quarter to start). As it gets going, she hopes to begin with a beta group of about 15 members to test the space and how it works for their company.
She stressed, though, that as not all founders may need the whole space, they can use it as needed.
“It’s a hybrid,” Wright said. “So we want to accommodate makers and people who want to make products as well as people who just need production and manufacturing services.”
To help build the space, Wright received grants from the DC government as well as Walmart. The project received $640,000 via a DC Locally Made Manufacturing Grant while the Washington Area Community Investment Fund teamed up with Walmart to build the space through an accelerator program. She anticipates the project’s completion in Q4 of 2023, but hopes it can wrap a little sooner.
Establishing this space in DC and passing brand knowledge on to founders — as well as giving them a platform — is something she thinks the area (and industry as a whole) needs. She hopes founders will have the opportunity to produce what they need, create jobs and innovate while supporting Black and Brown founders, in particular, who she said are not seeing their fair share of the market.
“DC is really not known for beauty, is not known for being the market for beauty products, personal care products,” Wright said. “And I don’t think there has to be a reason that it can’t be.”-30-