Owner of Skin-Care Company Celebrates Diversity—and Burst in GrowthBy Jessica Weiss ’05 | Portrait courtesy of MIA CHAE REDDY; Product photo by John T. Consoli
For months, Mia Chae Reddy Ph.D. ’12 has been working 18-hour days, packing and shipping orders of her Moroccan-inspired beauty and wellness products around the world. She never expected sales would skyrocket during the pandemic.
Her young company, Dehiya, initially took a hit as the coronavirus gripped the country and squeezed its economy. But just days after police in Minnesota killed George Floyd, setting off protests nationwide, Black-owned businesses saw a surge of attention. Reddy almost immediately sold out her stock.
Reddy and Dehiya have been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, Essence and other top publications. She’s seen a more than 5,000% jump in visits to her website and thousands of new followers on Instagram, and her products are now available at retailers including Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.
She’s also engaged in countless “thoughtful and genuine” discussions about race in recent months, though she admits to feeling ambivalent about her success since the tragedy. As a result, Reddy has stepped more into the public eye—as a voice not only for her business, but also for Black lives.
“I feel like I’m coming into my place as a founder and cultural curator,” she says. “It turns out skin care and products have been a catalyst to have important conversations.”
At Maryland, Reddy focused her doctoral research in American studies on Black women growing up in the golden era of hip-hop, and how that formed their conception of identity. A makeup artist throughout college, she conceived the idea for Dehiya several years later during a trip to Morocco, where a fourth-generation herbalist taught her time-honored folk beauty practices.
The company, which takes its name from a powerful 7th-century North African female warrior, launched in early 2019 in California. Dehiya’s products, such as the small, handcrafted tool made of terra-cotta and cotton known as a “Mihakka,” are organic, plant-based, vegan and ethically sourced, and many of the ingredients are produced by a women’s co-op outside of Marrakech.
“I want to combine ancestral ritual with modern practices,” Reddy says, “to uncomplicate skin care routines and help us return to simple beauty.”
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