New self-care business is a rockin’ success
In these trying and uncertain times, self-care is key. Audra Robinson is the owner of Rocky Robinson, an online business that offers self-care products for kids and teens, ranging from shampoo, lotion, and lip balm to hand sanitizer, and activity/coloring books.
Robinson said, “The mission is to celebrate the beauty and brilliance and magic of Black girls.” She added, “It is to help Black girls love the skin they are in.”
Robinson grew up in St. Paul and graduated from Central High School. “We were the class that walked out our senior year because we demanded to have a Black history class taught in the school—I’m very proud of that,” Robinson recalled.
RR was officially launched on Facebook in 2014. During that time, Robinson explains that she was recruited for a position at Pfizer. In December 2019, she was laid off, which prompted her to work on the RR brand.
When Robinson departed the corporate world, she was able to live her dream. She elaborated, “I started working full-time in my business. I say I launched it on Instagram in March 2020.” Instagram helped her business grow tremendously.
Launching a business isn’t an easy task. Robinson said, “It took my full attention and dedication to building the brand and the business.”
She added, “It took me understanding what story I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell it—using, leveraging social media to help position my brand to Black moms and tell the story of what inspired me to start it and why.”
Additionally, “It took resources—an investment, finding a manufacturer to make my products so that when I drive the business, I can fill the orders on time and I can get them out to the customers,” Robinson said.
She continued, “What inspired me to start my business was I had worked in marketing here in Minneapolis in corporate roles for the last 15 years and a lot of the time, I was the only person that looked like me in the room and that really didn’t sit well with me at all.” Robinson felt compelled to make change.
Before Robinson became a full-time business owner, she invested a lot of time working in the corporate sector. She said, “I worked on product launches. My last role was with Pfizer. I worked on brands like Advil, Chapstick, and Emergen-C, and was a part of teams that would be a part of the marketplace.” Her work experience inspired her to create the RR brand.
She recalled, “One of my fondest memories is my mom—I remember she would always buy my sister and I shower gel, lotion, and a book, and pajamas for Christmas Eve—having those things as our own really always stuck with me.” Robinson aspired to develop her own line of self-care products: shower gel and lotion.
Growing up, “I had shower gel with Barbie on it with blonde and blue eyes as a kid in the ’70s. Now it’s 2021, and it’s still very hard to find products that are relevant to our kids,” Robinson said. Representation is important.
Robinson is receiving exceptional feedback about her products. She said, “That goal I had in mind of making Black girls feel seen and heard but also with products that they love really reinforced that for me.” The self-care enterprise is receiving an outpouring of support and positive feedback.
There’s special meaning behind the business name. Robinson explained, “Originally, I wanted to name my brand something else—I wanted to name it Girls Rock, because again it goes back to me wanting to empower Black girls and I wanted them to be all they can be.” Rocky is a character that exemplifies “Rocking out in everything in life.”
Robinson also developed an activity and coloring book that showcases Rocky. “I have a friend in town, her name is Dara Beevas and she is a publisher, so I partnered with her, a Black woman to create the coloring book that empowers girls and there’s activities,” she said. Her customers also expressed they wanted the Rocky character to become a cartoon.
Furthermore, customers can expect high-quality and affordable self-care products. “We launched with shower gel, lotion, and lip balm—we added hand sanitizer due to the pandemic,” said Robinson. The fragrances are unique, and she is currently working on new products.
The RR products can be purchased online and in various locations. “We’re going to be launching at Region’s Gift Shop, Methodist Gift Shop, Girls Scout Gift Shop,” Robinson noted.
Robinson had advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and young people. “If you have an idea, do your research—the barriers to entry are low now. You can literally start your business from your phone.” She added, “If you dream it, go for it, do your research and make it happen.”
For more information visit the rocky-robinson-store.square site
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.