September 2020

Niambi Cacchioli of Pholk - Part I: The Brand

What motivated you to start Pholk?

I once read a statistic that as much as 75% of skincare marketed to WOC contain known toxins. As someone who struggles with balancing my combination skin, many mainstream natural skincare products are too heavy and lead to breakouts. So, I decided that I would combine my expertise in African Diaspora history with my love for folk herbalism to help others find natural solutions for concerns common to melanin-rich skin.

What would you consider your hero product from your brand?

The Werkacita Balm

What standards/non-negotiables do you take into consideration when thinking about enhancing or developing new products?

All ingredients must be natural, vegan. I also love using ingredients that have a cultural connection to the African Diaspora. They may have been not be traditionally used by Black folk as a skin remedy, but may be a common plant in gardens or a food ingredient. Also, since I think of melanin-rich skin as reactive skin, ingredients must be ultra gentle. That means I don’t use seeds or salts as exfoliants and all products are alcohol-free.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for "beauty/wellness" brands today?

I can’t speak for all brands but my biggest challenge is planning for growth. I have to juggle daily operations with investing and planning for a future that I can’t see. It takes a high tolerance for risk because for every yes that y’all see, there were at least five no’s.

What has been one of your proudest moments since creating Pholk?

I had a Juneteenth botanical social last year at Pholk Beauty Lab. We gathered around my workshop tables and made perfumes from honeysuckle, rose and jasmine. I chose those flowers because Black women had used them as perfume, for their hair and for love spells. To be able to combine my expertise as a Diaspora historian with my love for plant healing was a magical moment.

What can we expect in the future from Pholk?

We are lining up some pretty great retailers for Spring 2021 so expect to see us popping even more. Most exciting for me personally is that I am learning how to distill plant waters so that I can make manufacture honeysuckle and lemon balm hydrosols in house.

What advice would you give customers who want to make the most out of your brand?

Don’t be afraid to mist! And my beauty secret is that I use a face mist throughout the day and I almost always use oils in combination with a mist. It helps distribute the oil and keeps pores hydrated and clean.