COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Even in difficult and uncertain times, a Columbus-based company is thriving and filling a void in the community with an everyday product.
Wife and husband duo Intisar Bashir and Rashid Mahdi started Browndages in 2018 when the couple realized they couldn’t find bandages to match their family’s skin tones.
“Bandages were supposed to be flesh toned and the ones we were buying in stores were not matching the tones of flesh in our household,” Bashir explained.
With an entrepreneurial ambition inherited from her business-owner father, Bashir and Mahdi decided to create their own line of darker flesh tone bandages. As their following and children grew, they expanded the brand to offer children’s bandages featuring characters in their likenesses.
“Nailah is the aspiring chef, Yasmine is the future veterinarian and our son, Tahir, is the future astronaut,” Bashir said of the characters inspired by her children.
On top of the bandages, Browndages also started creating pajama sets with the same characters and several children’s books. Bashir said the representation has been transformative for her children and others.
“Seeing themselves portrayed in those images has really stuck with them and put the idea in their mind that, ‘You know what, I can do this. I can attain this. This is something I would like to aspire to as I grow,'” she said.
2020 has been a particularly successful year for the small business. Civil unrest following the death of George Floyd inspired calls to end system racism and support black-owned businesses. In the wake of civil unrest, bandage giant Band-Aid announced it would expand its own line of flesh tone bandages. Loyal fans of Browndages were quick to point out the small, local brand was already offering an inclusive line.
“Our products sold out in a matter of less than a week [after Band-Aid’s announcement],” Bashir said.
She said she’s glad to see other brands embracing diversity, especially because of its effect on children like her own.
“Those little moments of a child being able to see themselves in a product as mundane as a bandage is so transformative and inspiring for a child,” she said.
You can find Browndages online and in several brick and mortar stores throughout the U.S., including Talib’s Shoes on E. Livingston Ave. in Columbus, which belongs to Bashir’s father.
Click here to learn more about the brand.