Marsh + Mane’s Jenea Robinson On Creating an Elevated Beauty Retailer for Women of Color

Marsh + Mane is a natural hair and lifestyle boutique selling products for Black women who do not chemically straighten their hair. Their mission is to provide an elevated beauty retail experience and to always provide a safe space for women to purchase products for their self-care routine.


Owner, Jenea Robinson, a “product junkie” herself, spent a lot of time in beauty supply stores, but was never pleased with the experience or the retail spaces. “The products are sold to you by people who know nothing about the products–they’ve never used them–you’re not allowed to touch and feel them, so you’re doing research online before you get to the store and really guessing on trying to find something,” she explained. Her concept of creating a beauty supply store that was an inspiring, beautifully designed space, with a welcoming environment, impeccable customer service and well-educated sales associates is what has now become Marsh + Mane.


With a background in communications and public relations, along with consulting entrepreneurs and trusted advisors in her circle, Robinson presented a strong business plan to the Small Business Administration. These resources were available to her through the City of Philadelphia Small Business Association Business Services, who assisted her in finding capital to bring her idea into fruition.


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speaking of black baes and black owned things, y’all should check out @marshandmane. it is a natural beauty supply ran by black women. they have almost every brand under the sun and more. and the store is super cute and chic, so naturally i stan. . . . . #naturalhair #naturalhaircare #blackowned #melanin #afro #curlyhair #kinky #coily curls #naturalista #beauty #minimalist #sheamoisture #oyin #stillphotography #portrait #naturalhairstyles #type3hair #type4hair

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However, one of the biggest challenges for starting the business was finding the location. She knew she wanted to be within the city, during her search she stumbled across her current location on 4th Street near South Street. Robinson is determined to thrive in the location, especially after her exceptional experience with the building owners at her South Street location. She found that they were excited about her idea, welcoming and inclusive of her, while also understanding of the experience she wanted to create for her customers, and interested in the potential customers she could bring to the area.  


Marsh+Mane is a place to visit to sit, relax, talk with other women about hair and skin care, gain education by associates and look at multiple product options. The experience of the customer is vital to Robinson’s mission. Expect to be greeted with a smile, music playing from Solange to SWV, good scents, sweet teas and just a good time.


Bringing cultural diversity to the centralized part of Philadelphia is uncommon according to Robinson. “My experience working with a tourism office is really what pushed me to open up this type of business in the center part of the city for a number of different reasons. One, when you visit, if you want to visit a Black-owned or Latino-owned place, you have to go outside of Center City a lot of times to find these places.”


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“Bosses Connect” If you’re in the Philadelphia area stop by and check out Marsh + Mane a Black owned natural beauty supply store made just for us. You’re welcomed in with smiles and sage. The decor is stunning and created the perfect atmosphere for the event. #blackwomen #phenomenalwomen #entrepreneur #businesssavvy #blackgirlbosses #network #connections #naturalhair #blackownedbusiness #motivation

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The boutique carries selections of hair creams, bath and body products, skin care, lifestyle goods, gift items, lotions, butters, shampoo and conditioners, body soaps, plant-based feminine care lines, hair balms, and even a section for men with beard and skin care products. Robinson and the sales associates try all of the products on the shelves to make sure that they can share their personal experience, and customers can also sample select products.


Marsh + Mane carries a combination of local brands that hand make their products, independently-owned brands that can only be found through e-commerce websites like Instagram or Etsy, and national brands. The variety of brands is to help eliminate the experimentation process and give customers the opportunity to receive feedback on products found online or at larger retail stores. “When we can go to Sephora and have a very specific experience for beauty, but as Black women, we can’t get that in hair care. So we’re either buying those in the same place where we’re getting cleaning supplies, which is not a horrible thing, but [hair care] is a part of self-care.”  


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I hope you’re all recharged from the weekend. Last week was busy for us. The online store is finally up and we had a chance to chat with @ckrusch for an upcoming podcast. Spending the rest of the day filling orders and planning some great events at the store for you this spring! Stay focused and happy Monday! . . . #marshandmane #mondaymotivation 📷: @ckrusch

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With many brands and products out there, Robinson wants women to be able to get great quality, affordable products all in one place. As an advocate for healthier alternatives to beauty, Marsh + Mane consciously selects and supplies products that avoid harmful ingredients and chemicals. “A lot of ingredients that are in chemical relaxers that we put in our hair, those are bad for you, you can choose to wear your hair like that, and that is fine! But we can straighten our hair without those chemicals and that is part of the education we want to give to people,” says Robinson.   


The response from those in the community has made Robinson and Marsh + Mane an influential part of the community, especially for women and young adults in the area. Robinson recalled a time when a high school student came into the store and was surprised that she was the owner. The student was so inspired by her and what she created for the community that she had asked to come in to help or volunteer. Robinson says, “I do think that this place means a lot to the community because they haven’t seen anything like this that was created specifically for women of color by a Black woman, and I have women come through the door and get emotional. I think it is [also] the products because we grow up with beauty supply stores (there’s no shortage of beauty supply stores) but the majority are owned by some other culture, and that’s the norm. To walk into one and have it look curated and not overcrowded is a shock to some people and I think that’s what makes people stop and pause because this is very thoughtful and intentional.”


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“I’ve had mixed experiences [at the beauty supply stores]. I had my one go-to place in Philly and I loved the ladies who worked there. But that was a rare find. Like many black women, I’ve been followed around the store or even rushed out if a sales person thought I was taking too long. I love to linger and look up ingredients and I feel like we are not given that space in many traditional beauty supply stores — not all of them — but many of them. Overall, beauty supply stores are not inspiring places. I wanted to create the kind of place I wish I could shop in.” -Jenea Robinson, Founder + CEO of @marshandmane Are you ready to experience a different way to shop haircare products? Full read above✨ #phillyhair #headhousedistrict #philly #oldcitydistrict #oldcity #beautyblogger #phillyblogger #blogger #naturalhair #haircare #kinkyhair #coilyhair #curlyhair #blackGirlMagic #iger_philly #visitphilly #organixlocs #marshandmane

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Marsh+Mane is a place to visit to sit, relax, talk with other women about hair and skin care, gain education by associates and look at multiple product options. The experience of the customer is vital to Robinson’s mission. Expect to be greeted with a smile, music playing from Solange to SWV, good scents, sweet teas and just a good time.


There is a moss-like art installation hanging from the ceiling, which is representative of the meaning behind the boutique’s name. The name was creatively derived by Robinson who has family near the Chattahoochee River in the South where there are swamp-like areas, and she wanted to pay homage to that connection that Black women have to their roots and their hair.


Be on the lookout for events and workshops for the community, themed around hair care, styling and product use. Robinson is also open to bringing in different types of events in the space. “This is not your average beauty supply store so I want people to come in and just experience it.”