Remember being a teenager and the thrill of flipping through the pages of the latest teen magazine — your one stop shop for dating advice, makeup and skincare tips and trendy hairstyles for you to debut at school? That feeling of excitement is a universal experience for every little Black girl growing into her own, but imagine how much more valuable those simple experiences would be if they’d been tailored to fit the young Black girl reading it. Entrepreneur Kelly Smith Beaty actually did imagine it and during the COVID-19 pandemic, she finally turned that imagination into a reality with the creation of the SelfE Box.
SelfE Box is a monthly subscription box service for Black girls ages 9-13. It’s meant to be a nod to self-esteem packed with four items from the health, beauty and wellness categories along with other affirming and age appropriate gifts for young Black girls. With different themes each month, the SelfE Box contains items such as lotions, lip balms, journals, hair care tips and anything that’s valuable for Black girls. Everything from the packaging itself to the contents of the box are meant to be a reflection of young Black girls to help boost their self-esteem and see themselves as beautiful. “So often when we see girls projected, we’re talking about Black girls and the problems that we have,” Beaty told HelloBeautiful. “But we’re also happy and we’re also creative and we’re also full of life. So we wanted everything from the actual box itself to the things we put into the box to be reflective of that.”
Another important aspect of the SelfE Box is the mini magazine which features a fun heath and beauty activity and what Beaty calls the “SelfE Model” to give the box’s recipients a real life role model to look up to. She explained, “A SelfE model is a real girl, a Black teenage girl age 14 and up, who writes a letter to the younger girls on whatever the topic is for that month. We use her real photos (about 5-6 selfies) to show real girls in their real environment as we want to affirm Black girls exactly as they are. We also do a career fast forward to show the girls what they could be in the future. This is a Black woman who talks about her career and how she became that from the time she was in middle school to now.”
Beaty also stresses the importance of partnering with the actual subscriber of the box to ensure it meets the needs of their Black girl recipient. “One of the things we were really careful about is releasing ourselves as a partner with moms and parents,” she explained. “We are very careful about putting things in the box that meet the girls in their age group. We want it to be young and feel youthful. And the reason for all of that is because Black girl innocence is important to us.”
The theme for SelfE Box actually came to Beaty when she realized the lack of Black representation in the teen magazines she read frequently as a child. “I think the theme for it began in my own childhood when I used to get Seventeen and some of the other teen magazines,” she recalled. ”But even as a Black girl growing up, I knew Seventeen wasnt really for me because there weren’t a whole lot of ‘mes’ in there. The beauty advice didn’t really apply and the conversation around Black hair around that time was nonexistent. So, I was trying to superimpose myself into those stories.”
Although she’s had the idea since her teenage years, it wasn’t until the recent pandemic that she had what she calls a “spiritual awakening” and realized that it was her duty to help and support Black girls in a real tangible and meaningful way. She continued, “As I searched my soul, SelfE Box was kind of sitting here on the self and I just got really busy about it. In that time, we finished the box and the website and we went public with it about a week ago.”
Now, for only a $39 per month subscription, young Black girls can have the representation they deserve in the form of the SelfE Box and celebrate their Black girl experience through fun activities, advice and role models as they start to come into their own. “Black girls are so vibrant and we’re so alive– you see the potential so early,” Beaty explained. “We always talk about ‘Black Girl Magic’ but when you look at the hashtag, most of the time we’re talking about Black women and so much of that is rooted in the fact that Black girls too often are unseen and invisible. I think Black girls are incredible, they’re amazing, they’re beautiful and they’re powerful. We just have not had the light and the opportunity to show that and have it reflected back to us, as we should.”
For more on SelfE Box and to become a subscriber, visit: https://selfebox.com/