The Black Founder at the Vanguard of Canna-Beauty

Photo by @Stocksy

"Beauty is this evolving thing," says Dorian Morris, the founder of CBD-infused skincare line, Undefined Beauty. Hoping to rewrite the clean beauty narrative, Morris began making a name for herself last August at Indie Beauty Expo in New York. There she was awarded "Consumer Favorite" after introducing her first line of products, Indigo Rose, which includes the Indigo Rose Glow Elixir, a multi-purpose beauty oil with 16 different botanicals—which was also voted "Best Face Serum/Oil" at the expo.

Morris started working in the beauty industry in 2013 as the Global Brand Manager for Kendo Brands. Think: Fenty Beauty, Marc Jacobs, and Kat Von D. From there she secured a position with Sundial Brands to lead the marketing behind their prestige hair brand exclusively for Sephora, Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture, and then as the Brand Director for Covergirl US.

"I like to look at my career as a beautiful mosaic," Morris tells me. "Each little piece is kind of added to this beautiful broader picture. And so all of my experiences to date have been really preparing me for this moment."

She continues: "As I was leaving Covergirl and thinking about what I wanted to do next and where my talents lied, I figured I had now built brands for multiple companies, and it was my time to build one for myself," Morris says. "The clean beauty space I personally feel passionate about. As a black woman, I don't agree with a lot of what is being marketed and strategically messaged to diverse communities, and I want to change the narrative around clean beauty by giving consumers education around what we put on our skin and how that impacts our internal well-being."

When Morris decided to start Undefined Beauty in 2018, her focus was to introduce more people to affordable clean beauty products. As she began to learn more about the internal and external benefits of cannabis, she realized that it had a story, the beauty industry was ignoring it, and she wanted to tell it from a new perspective: "I asked myself: how do I tell this story about this ingredient that really is poised to change how people think about their skincare and its ability to really impact performance.”

But her interest in including cannabis as the key ingredient in her products went beyond the surface. She wanted to add a social justice aspect to her brand story to highlight how many lives had been negatively impacted by a plant American's were suddenly beginning to embrace. "Since I am brand owner I have this opportunity to really make an impact with the products and help the community. And so for this collection, I focused on female incarceration because a lot of women, unfortunately, are in jail because of cannabis," says Morris.

"I'm the daughter of law enforcement. So I've been around this space for a long time. My mom was actually one of the first black CHP sergeants here in California, and I have family members that have been to jail . Some are still in jail. So I've seen firsthand how difficult it is to reacclimate and with Undefined Beauty, I really want to be a part of that solution."

Mary Pryor, one of the co-founders of Cannaclusive, is proud to support Morris and Undefined Beauty. Pryor’s company is focused on solving the diversity problem in the cannabis industry. "She's black. I’m black. It’s that simple," said Pryor about her support for Morris. She also loves the products that Undefined features like the Indigo Rose Glow Elixir, which Pryor described as "ultra luxe and light.”

One of the founders of Vice Ventures, Catharine Dockery, says that venture capital and startup environments needs more black women like Morris. "Black founders have some incredible ideas, passion, and hard work," Dockery says over email. "Dorian is an excellent example of that. I love everything she stands for and I'm personally obsessed with what she's building."

Morris stands at the intersection of beauty and cannabis, as a black woman, hoping to encourage and help more black women founders own their right to such a lucrative industry. "The wealth opportunity is vast in the industry.

And most of the trends in cannabis are based on black cultural themes in the first place. We need to control and take hold of the narrative of industry, which has criminalized and criticized black and brown bodies for decades," Pryor says.

Morris is one of the many examples of what it looks like when black women choose to take up space in industries that have suppressed minority voices for so long. Right now, black and brown women are demanding that the beauty industry evolve and make space for them. On the other side of that, minority American's affected by the War On Drugs, are fighting to be free from prison and persecution as the country moves forward towards federal legalization.

As she digs deeper into her own potential, Morris is excited to see how our country is being forced to evolve. "People are recognizing that there's not one way to beauty and that can own individual style and individual beauty," she says, which is the heart of Undefined Beauty.

As of May 2019, Undefined Beauty will be in Urban Outfitters stores across California and New York.

Lyneisha Watson is the High Folks columnist for High Times Magazine. Her writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Blavity, and Black Girl in Om.