Toronto entrepreneur creates startup to offer bandages for black and brown skin tones

A Toronto entrepreneur created a new business after she realized there is a lack of options in adhesive bandages for people with black and brown skin tones.

Heal in Colour aims to make black and brown bandages the norm

After launching in early April, founder Tianna McFarlane says Heal in Colour has already seen success. (Submitted by Tianna McFarlane)

A Toronto entrepreneur has created a new business after realizing there was a lack of options in adhesive bandages for people with black and brown skin tones. 

Heal in Colour founder Tianna McFarlane told CBC Toronto it all started in 2019 when she went searching for bandages for a cut.

She wanted to buy something that would match her skin tone but instead was greeted by a lack of diversity on the shelves. 

"What I saw on shelves when I went looking for bandages was white and more white," McFarlane said.

"I was a little bit shocked by that.".

She says the situation sparked her idea to seize the gap in the market and make black and brown bandages the norm.

"We want people to feel confident in their skin when they heal. So Heal in Colour just came together," she said.

McFarlane says she spent two years perfecting the product before finally launching it in early April.

Band-Aid, the current leader in the market, announced last year it would be launching a line of bandages for black and brown skin tones.

"It was after the uprising and Black Lives Matter, that's when they decided to offer these bandages," McFarlane said,

However, the new line is only being sold in the U.S. and McFarlane says the move seemed a bit performative to her — coming as it did only after the protests that erupted worldwide following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Heal in Colour aims to make black and brown adhesive bandages the norm. (Submitted by Tianna McFarlane)

Christelle Francois, president of the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, believes companies like Heal in Colour are helping to shed light on a gap that still exists.

"It's surprising that it kind of took a new company to step into that market in terms of representing various skin tones, whereas big brands should have been doing this for years." Francois said.

Francois says it's especially important for children to grow up and have these products be the norm. 

"For children figuring out who they are, it's important for people to feel that the products that they're purchasing contain an inclusive perspective." she said.

Since launching her website last month, McFarlane says she has received an outpouring of support, with over 350 boxes already sold.

"I've gotten a lot of nice messages from the community, just saying, 'We love what you're doing and thank you for creating this for us.'"

McFarlane says her next step is to expand the business and she is working toward having it sold in big box retail stores. 

"I just want to inspire other young black women to start businesses that can create change."

 For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.