Bovanti Cosmetics is a Black-owned beauty business that has been in existence for over 30 years. With one store in Atlanta, Georgia, one in both Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina, and products available at retail shops, the line is steadily expanding and becoming well-known for its top-notch make-up and its informational beauty classes.
But one of the best aspects of the business is that it is run by a tight-knit family. Bovanti — which is a mash-up of the family name Bohannon, “v” for “victory,” and the matriarch’s first name — was started by Anita Bohannon and her husband. But now that the line is expanding, the couple’s daughters, 29-year-old Marquis (Bovanti retail president) and 28-year-old Marquel (Bovanti creative director), are taking the family business to the next level. The make-up artists have owned the stores in North Carolina for several years, and they also continue to push the line forward by incorporating their expertise on the hottest make-up styles and trends.
But Anita is still very much a part of the line’s continued success. She is holding a Bovanti conference in Atlanta on April 2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. that will focus on women’s empowerment and touch on subjects ranging from beauty, to finances, and even health. Former “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta” star and Bovanti beauty ambassador Shay Johnson will make an appearance, as well as author and fashion designer Lisa Nicole Cloud from Bravo’s “Married to Medicine.”
We spoke to the three women about the challenges of having a family business, the hottest make-up trends for spring, and more.
How did Bovanti get its start?
Anita: We’ve been in business for about 34 years. I’m a graduate of Spelman College. Once I graduated, my husband and I started out with models. We had a modeling troupe. We used to tour and we did different shows. As a result of the modeling agency, we needed make-up to apply on the models. We wanted them to wear our own brand, and that’s how we came up with Bovanti Cosmetics. Bovanti means a gift to a beautiful woman. From the cosmetic company, we started doing production and shows. We’re a brand now. We do make-up, we do brows, we do facials. We do make-up classes. We teach women how to empower themselves with make-up.
How has the company expanded over time? I know you are a family business now, and your daughters are more involved.
Anita: I love that part, because they bring the technology to the company. One of the great ways we are growing is the fact that we’re on social media. We have stores in North Carolina and Atlanta. We have a huge mail order department, so when we do these various shows, we have customers that call us back to order product, so we’re branding ourselves that way. Make-up is one of the recession-proof businesses. Once you purchase a lip color, you have to have that lip color. And we always launch new products. Right now, the biggest things is contouring and highlighting. That’s the newest trend, hiding blemishes with concealers and highlighting your best features so that you can have a total beauty package.
Marquel: My sister and I graduated from Hampton University, and we wanted to make sure everybody had Bovanti. So we try to make sure our expansion is everywhere. Not only do we have our own retail stuff in stores, but we have our online store also. That’s one of our biggest markets, because we ship globally and internationally. We try to make sure everybody can get Bovanti. We are working on being in a city near you, so we’re working on having more retail stores.
What is your specialty at Bovanti, Marquis?
Marquis: I am the retail president of Bovanti Cosmetics. My job is to take Bovanti to the next level in retail, so my sister and I opened up stores in the Greensboro and Charlotte area in North Carolina, so it’s my job to create new opportunities through distribution and through retail locations. When I was younger, I always wanted to own Bovanti. My father said, “You don’t have to take it over, Marquis, I’ll give it to you.” So with that being said, what I’m doing is expanding the brand to other markets so more people know Bovanti as a worldwide brand.
What is different about Bovanti that makes it stand out from other cosmetic lines?
Marquel: We’re a family-owned business, and we’re a Black-owned cosmetics line. We offer services, and we even have skincare for men. We do it all. We offer different services that you can utilize to stay youthful. I’m a licensed esthetician, so we’re big on skincare, eating right, etc. So we educate clients on how to get their skin right to bring out their best assets.
Do you run into any challenges working so closely with your family?
Anita: We’ve been in business for over 30 years, so we had to get to a point where we were welcoming fresh, new ideas when our daughters came on board. They’re very educated, and sometimes as parents, you don’t want to take heed to what they’re saying, but over time, you realize that they have invested time and knowledge into growing the company to the next level. So they bring fresh ideas, they keep us current and creative. On the flip side, I love that we’re a family-owned business and I’m with somebody that I can really trust. We have a lot of secrets that we share, and we don’t have to worry about it going anywhere else, because we are a tight-knit family. There’s so many family businesses out here, but you can’t have weak links in the family. So we empower each other, and then go out and empower other women as well.
What are the hottest trends for this spring in make-up?
Marquel: What’s hot right now is the perfect brows. We have our perfect brow kit, which is our brow powders and brushes to apply them. Everybody wants the perfect brow without doing too much, so that’s one of our big things. We also do brow extensions, which is when we apply tiny hair to the skin to give a fuller brow. You can see all of that on our Instagram page. We also started doing a new technique called microbraiding. It’s like a brow tattoo, but it’s done in strokes where it looks like hair. So it’s not your typical tattoo where the ink bleeds and spreads. It’s very neat and clean, and our clients like that they can get the full brow instantly. Another thing we offer is our Liquid Lipstick Matte. We have several colors — nude, red, pinks, black, and everything in between. They stay on for 15 hours; they glide on as a gloss, and then they dry matte. That’s one of the big trends, along with highlighting and contouring.
What is Bovanti’s best-selling item?
Marquis: Our Liquid Lipstick Matte. You can eat, drink, and kiss with these colors. We have at least 10 colors you can choose from. Another thing that’s popular with us are our Perfect Match Foundation. It’s not going to clog your pores, and it’s long-lasting.
You have a conference coming up?
Anita: Yes, We’re going to have our first Bovanti Beauty Star Women’s Conference. It’s going to be held on April 2 at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. We’re going to have speakers. It’s an expo and power luncheon. We have Cynthia Butler-McIntyre — she was the 24th national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. She’s our 2016 keynote speaker. We also have some of the best experts in this industry on health, beauty, investment planning, and fitness. Shay Johnson from “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta” is going to be featured in the fashion show. She’ll be helping women reach their fitness goals. I’ll be speaking on purpose and passion. It’s from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. You’re going to be networking with industry leaders, you’ll meet some of our keynote speakers. We have a beauty bar, and a business pavilion. We’re excited about it.
Marquis: Today is our anniversary for our store in Greensboro. My sister and I wanted to start our own Bovanti and be a franchise, so today we’re celebrating 6 years in business at our Greensboro location. We have some make-up classes. She’s a celebrity stylist, so she’ll be speaking. We also offer hands-on classes that we do at our location, where our clients have an opportunity to transform their beauty with the right products.
For more information, visit bovanti.com. Follow Bovanti Cosmetics on Instagram Twitter, and Facebook @Bovanti.