For most of the past 100 years the leading bandage companies marketed their products as “flesh toned.” However, the bandages were all pale pink or tan, ignoring the fact that human beings have flesh in a vast range of colors.
Intisar Bashir and Rashid Mahdi, of Columbus, Ohio, decided to do something about the fact that the color of bandages didn’t match the skin color shades within their own family. Bashir’s father owned a shoe store, and she grew up working in the store, so she knew a lot about starting and running a business. Browndages initially focused on adult bandages that would reflect Black and Brown skin color shades. The company sold its first bandages in November of 2018.
Their three children, then 10, 8 and 5, wanted bandages with images of superheroes or princesses. In an interview with Susan Post of Columbus News on July 7, 2020, Bashir said that she and her husband wanted to provide images of professionals that their children could actually grow up and become, rather than fantasy figures.
At first, they used their own children as models, enlisting U.K.-based artist Princess Karibo to draw them as veterinarians, chefs, astronauts, or ballerinas. In an article in Vogue on August 17, 2020, Bashir said that both of their daughters had recently expressed interest in growing up to be a chef or a veterinarian, and she believed that seeing themselves in the images had expanded their daughters’ minds as to what they might achieve.
In June of 2020, when several large bandage companies announced they would include a broad representation of skin tones, Browndages’ social media followers flooded the site saying there was already a Black-owned business that was providing this type of bandage. As a result, Browndages sold six months of inventory within six days. In 2021, Browndages was one of the winners of the FedEx Small Business Grants contest.
Browndages also sells pajamas, first aid kits, hats and children’s books. Prior to the Covid pandemic Bashir and Mahdi attended numerous small business and wedding events around the country, where they were able to have face-to-face conversations with their customers.
Currently the company’s products are sold online and at brick-and-mortar stores around the country, including, of course, the shoe store where Bashir first learned about the joys and struggles of being an entrepreneur.