We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Ahsaki LaFrance-Chachere a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Ahsaki, thanks for joining us today. What’s the backstory behind how you came up with the idea for your business?
Ah-Shi was supposed to be my daughter’s name, however, after multiple miscarriages, I felt the name needs to live in a different way. When building Ah-Shi Beauty, it did not have a name at first. Because I knew the name of the brand had to be meaningful and stand strongly on its own in a very crowded industry. Ah-Shi in Dine (Navajo) means this is me-this is mine. I wanted the brand to speak to the world not only through the product but the name. Everything we do, for example, a business we breathe life into it. So this business is truly connecting the world through the power of beauty, which starts from within. When you say AH-SHI BEAUTY you’re saying “This Is Me…..This Is My Beauty!” I want my customers to see and hear themselves in the brand.
The first thing people think of a Native Brand or Indigenous Brand they expect prints and feathers. Stereotypes continue to label my people and I want to end that. Do not get me wrong we are all about our patterns and symbols however there is a place and time for them. I am a Native/Indigenous Brand that does not follow the trends as a Native/Indigenous Brand. I want my packaging and branding to tell a different story, that the modern Native has never left we are here and always will be here. We are a Native Brand and our products can sit beside other prestige brands too. With our classic and timeless packaging, everyone can feel comfortable rocking our brand without the sensitive tribal prints.
Growing up on the Navajo Reservation we never see ourselves in beauty campaigns. I remember watching my great-grandmother, grandma, mother, and aunties all get ready to apply their makeup and do their hair. I noticed at such a young age they were mixing shades back then. A lot of people would ask if we had makeup on the reservation and yes we do. As a Diné Asdzaan (Navajo woman) we were taught to always dress presentably because we represent not only ourselves but our family. Presentation is very important and putting our best face forward is a must. Our hair is tied up in our traditional hair bun, adorn in our turquoise jewelry, and a little makeup to enhance our features. We Walk in Beauty and Beauty all around us. Building the next Timeless Iconic Beauty Brand was a must. I built Ah-Shí Beauty to make an impact on and off the Díne Nation (Navajo Nation). This is for my ancestors before us and all the women who paved the way for my generation and generations to come. They’ll always have a Beauty Brand they can relate to on a personal level and showcase the essence of “Rez Life”.
Ahsaki, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
A trailblazer in her own right, Ahsaki is the Founder/CEO of Ah-Shi Beauty, the first Native American-owned and operated luxury skincare and cosmetics brand in the United States.
Even as a proud Dine (Navajo) tribal member and African American woman, Ahsaki has odds against her as she faces social and economic challenges as a dark-skinned Native American. These obstacles gave her the fuel she needed to build Ah-Shi Beauty. Where she showcases that Native Americans/Indigenous people are diverse and that they are not the pervasive image the media continues to perpetuate.
In Navajo, Ah-Shi means: “This is me. This is mine.” Ah-Shi Beauty – This is my Beauty! Where her customers set their own beauty standards. She makes it her responsibility that when her customers look in the mirror, they see themselves, feel empowered and continue to love the skin they are in.
As the face of the brand, she is pushing the narrative to show the world that indigenous African descendants are here, and their beauty will be recognized and respected. Ah-Shi Beauty brings much-needed positive change to the beauty industry. Ahsaki was awarded, the Native Business Owner of the Year (2021), and Naat’aanii Leadership Award by Dine Pride (2020). She is a pivotal part of the movement that is resetting and reshaping beauty standards, where the beauty industry can now include a tribal member at the table.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
I want to Indigenize the Beauty Industry by being an authentic voice from my reservation that can speak to all Native Nations. All of our reservations are fighting an Over regulated and oppressed system. We as business owners are fighting against the plan that’s not made for us to be successful on our reservation. Building this company we are tearing off Red Tape and facing the system eye to eye and standing strong and making a presence so that we can rebuild our Reservation Economy and inspire others to build their businesses too. The success of Ah-Shí Beauty benefits my people and creates Indigenous Generational Wealth. We are in a multi-billion dollar industry just imagine how many resources I can create by the success of Ah-Shí Beauty. How many business owners I can help and mentor? The rise of Native Empires across Native Nation.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
“The highest human act is to inspire.” – Nipsey Hussle
I’m demonstrating a vision turned into reality. It is possible on the reservation even with the limited resources we have cannot stop us from doing the impossible. No dream is too big or out of reach for any “Rez Kid” we finally have a brand that represents Rez Life respectfully and correctly. Having a beauty brand that understands what it’s like being a modern-day Native and carrying many generations of teachings. My womanhood ceremony prepared me to face any obstacles life will throw my way as I build The Next Timeless Iconic Beauty Brand proudly operating on and off the Diné (Navajo) Nation.
Hope. Inspiration. Opportunities.
We are done waiting for major brands to highlight our people. We will build our own and tell our own story.
We are the First Native American Beauty Brand to drop an entire Skincare and Cosmetics collection I am very proud. Like many people around the world, it’s hard to find the right foundation shade. I am blessed to have a family full of women I tested our shade range on. My family alone are all different hues of browns and having my supportive family around me I was able to pinpoint our indigenous shades. However our foundation range for all five fingers beings of all skin shades.
The dynamic duo Hi-Def Foundation and Dual Powder caught the top beauty editor’s eyes and soon became our top sellers. The duo pairs well together and work well with other brands as well. I wanted to create a collection everyone could add one or all of our products to their beauty routine.
The Liquid Velvet Lipstick we’re put to the test from foodies and our mask. Long-wearing, high pigmented, and hydrating lipstick everyone needs.
Easy application. Quality products. Enhance your natural beauty.
- Website: www.ahshibeauty.com
- Instagram: @ahshibeauty
- Facebook: Ah-Shi Beauty
- Linkedin: Ahsaki Chachere
- Twitter: @ahshibeauty
- Youtube: Ah-Shi Beauty
- Other: TikTok @officalashibeauty
Derrick Cooksey Jane Feldman