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    These Women Of Colour Were Told That Their Business Idea Was “Too Niche” And Now Major Retailers Are Doing It Without Them

    "We thought we could still do well, but we can't beat prices; we can't beat what they've got to offer in terms of recognition and money."

    A small business that tried to sell its range of diverse skin-coloured plasters to several British retailers has called out supermarket chain Tesco for launching a similar product alongside a campaign celebrating itself for being the first UK supermarket to do so.

    In a viral tweet written by a close friend of the entrepreneurs behind Skin Bandages by Nünude, Tesco was accused of copying an existing product at the expense of a smaller company run by women of colour.

    The criticism also included a screenshot showing that a Tesco employee had placed an order for the full range of the brand’s plasters in 2019.

    To be honest, it's about bl**dy time. Tesco is the first UK supermarket to stock plasters made for multiple skin tones, sold at everyday plaster prices. But don't just take our word for it... #EveryLittleHelps #SkinTonePlasters Available in the majority of stores.

    Joanne Morales, the founder of Nünude, told BuzzFeed News that her business partner, Vivian Murad, had cold-called Tesco about their product in 2017 and pitched the idea of plasters that match a range of skin tones.

    While the pair clarified that this conversation went no further and that no promises were made, Morales, a marketing specialist, said they were hopeful that an opportunity to reopen talks had presented itself when a Tesco product developer in the health and beauty department purchased the entire range from their online Etsy store last July.

    However, no call came. Instead, Tesco launched its own product line in 2020 with the marketing slogan, "It's about bloody time."

    A spokesperson for Tesco did not deny that the chain had previously spoken with Vivian Murad, but said there had been no "commercial conversations" between the two parties.

    They also confirmed that a Tesco staff member had bought Skin Bandages as part of its product research and development.

    Morales and Murad have been selling their Skin Bandages brand via the Nünude website since 2019.

    The business owners say that as part of their effort to crack the UK market, they pitched their idea to several high street retailers, including Superdrug and Boots.

    And following Tesco’s launch, both Superdrug and Boots told the BBC that they have plans underway to bring similar products to market within the next six weeks.

    However, in an email exchange seen by BuzzFeed News, Morales and Murad were once told by Boots that their product was “too niche”.

    Boots did not to comment on this when it was put to the retailer, but said in a statement: "We will definitely be launching an extended range of skin tone plasters in the coming months. We have spoken to a range of brands and businesses within the plasters category as part of that process, but will not be working with NüNude this time."

    A Superdrug spokesperson said in a statement: "Due to commercial sensitivities we’re unable to comment on your specific questions however we can confirm that when considering any new product launches we’re in contact with a number of suppliers and decisions on whether to work together are based on a number of criteria including brand fit, product availability and pricing."

    Morales told BuzzFeed News: “A week ago, me and Vivian were crying on the phone, literally saying: 'Let's just sell the companies, we're done. We can't fight against these [big companies]. We tried; we can't do anymore.'

    "I think the whole week we were depressed."

    The 27-year-old, who created Nünude as a space to promote diversity, inclusivity, and body positivity, said that she and her business partner felt sidelined and financially squeezed by the arrival of competitors they had once hoped to work with, adding, “We thought we could still do well, but we can't beat prices; we can't beat what they've got to offer in terms of recognition and money. Let’s just give up.”

    Murad said: “The fact that [Tesco] has produced and stocked skin-toned plasters is not an issue at all — on the contrary. The core of our businesses is that we want society to be inclusive and that retailers, amongst others, celebrate diversity.

    “What’s disheartening is the way they have campaigned, boldly claiming ‘It’s about bloody time’ and giving no recognition to the brands they’ve sourced inspiration from."

    A Tesco spokesperson told BuzzFeed News it was inspired to extend its existing range of plasters by a viral tweet first posted in April 2019 from a US-based social media user who had purchased a plaster from Tru Colour Bandages, which is stocked in the US.

    It's taken me 45 trips around the sun, but for the first time in my life I know what it feels like to have a "band-aid" in my own skin tone. You can barely even spot it in the first image. For real I'm holding back tears.

    The tweet generated over 100,000 retweets, including from Star Wars actor John Boyega, who chimed in to share his experience of having to use beige plasters on film sets that would have to be coated with brown makeup to blend in.

    A Tesco spokesperson said: “We made the decision to sell a more diverse range of plasters after a colleague saw a tweet which described the emotional response one man had the first time he used a plaster that matched his skin tone.

    “No UK supermarket had ever stocked plasters in a range of skin tones before, and we saw this as an opportunity for Tesco to lead the charge and make a difference.”