Meet Winged Woman, Dorian Morris.
A true champion of inclusive, accessible beauty and wellness, Dorian Morris is a beauty junkie with deep expertise across categories from cosmetics to haircare to skincare. She is the Founder/CEO of Undefined Inc including Undefined Beauty, a lifestyle brand focused the democratization of beauty. The first collection- Indigo Rose- lives at the intersection of clean skincare meets CBD meets social impact. She is also the Chief Architect of Undefined Collective, a disruptive retail platform focused on conscious capitalism and elevating female-founded, minority-owned, LGBTQ and CBD brands. Dorian wants to educate and empower woman + men everywhere to explore, embrace and celebrate their own unique beauty through unique ingredient stories while also giving back to the community: purposeful beauty unleashed.
With a diverse leadership background, she previously was US Marketing Director for Covergirl. Prior, she was Director of Prestige Innovation at Sundial Brands, where she led the launch of Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture, a performance driven haircare brand exclusively at Sephora. Prior, Dorian worked at Kendo Brands, the innovative brand incubator owned by LVMH, where she launched Formula X, then Sephora’s #1 nail brand. Prior to beauty, she started her brand management career at General Mills, sharpening her general management and brand building skills on legacy brands such as Chex Mix and Yoplait and started her career in the Macy’s buying office, mastering merchandising and portfolio management. She graduated from UCLA summa cum laude and received her MBA from Harvard Business School. With an adventurous spirit, in her free time, Dorian enjoys globetrotting (and has traveled to 60+ countries) and is a proud mother of a spunky Morkie named Monaco.
Hi Dorian-you seem to do it all- have a beautiful clean beauty brand, a retail store and are featured constantly as a voice for women and diversity in business. How did you get your start?
My background is a beautiful mosaic of retail, consumer packaged goods and beauty, ranging from merchandising at Macy’s, classical brand building at General Mills to learning the ins/outs of the beauty business while at Sephora/Kendo and continuing to evolve and master other beauty categories while at Sundial (hair) and leading Covergirl US (makeup). While at Harvard Business School, I honestly thought my purpose was to lead a large Fortune 500 as one of the first black female CEOs but now as I embark upon this startup journey, it’s quite a different yet exciting adventure to be building MY OWN Future Fortune 500, from scratch. Each experience on my professional journey has built key tools that I can now leverage as an entrepreneur- including how I want to operate as well as how I DO NOT want to operate, because actions are what determine your company values and culture.
Here’s a bit more about my origin story in creating Undefined. After leaving Corporate America, having built successful brands for other people, I felt it was my time to create something special and powerful for myself. As a beauty junkie, I’m always dissecting ingredient lists and realized there are a lot of less-than-ideal ingredients in our everyday products that aren’t necessary. As the industry shifts towards greater transparency, I felt there was an opportunity to focus on clean/non-toxic beauty but do so in an accessible, approachable way. I discovered the beautiful benefits of cannabis, specifically CBD, via a former colleague and as I started my product development research in 2018, I found there wasn’t an efficacious yet fun and accessible CBD brand, focusing on the destigmatiation of cannabis while elevating conscious capitalism in the process. I created Undefined Beauty to fill this void: clean beauty meets adaptogens (CBD) meets social impact. Undefined Beauty is a lifestyle brand focused on changing the narrative around clean/nontoxic living, the democratization is beauty and infusing social impact in the process. I believe in plant power and the role adaptogens play in helping us individually become our best self, both inner and outer beauty, with CBD being for the first adaptogen I chose to highlight in my first collection, Indigo Rose. I want to empower women and men everywhere to explore, embrace and celebrate their own unique beauty while also giving back to the community: purposeful beauty unleashed.
I expanded the concept of conscious capitalism by launching Undefined Collective, a disruptive retail platform which is focused on elevating female founded, minority owned, LGTBQ, local and CBD brands because 1+1 can equal 5 when indie brands come together. I have over 50 brand partners that have come together around this aligned vision and have executed a successful physical brick & mortar popup in Oakland, CA and more importantly, we have been able to educate the community on the amazing benefits of cannabis and demystify its internal and external benefits. Undefined Collective is continuing to evolve and I’m working on something special in the Arts District DTLA that will launch very soon.
Tell us about the philosophy behind your consumer brand, Undefined Beauty?
Undefined is clean, conscious and purpose-driven and does so in an unapologetic, uncompromising and unfiltered way. I use the tag “I like my products how I like my people: non-toxic”. This people piece is important because I embody conscious capitalism via my business decisions across my supply chain as all of my partners- from my labs to my designer to my warehouse- are female founded, minority owned and/or LGBTQ. I strongly believe that business empowers business and I as a business owner will be part of the solution instead of perpetuating societal barriers to success.
We love your retail concept to bring together “competing “ brands in an effort for collaboration. Can you tell us more about that?
Undefined Collective is about building something different—democraticizing retail. I believe experiential retail is what will win in the end and with a new, evolving category like cannabis, education and experimentation helps consumers get over any hesitations and hurdles. In my Oakland location, we had a tincture bar, similar to a wine bar, where customers could try all the female founded tincture brands and learn more about their story, where their cannabis is sourced and the unique ingredient and flavor profiles- in a safe, welcoming, fem-forward space. I organized the store by category so you can experience the versatility of CBD across beauty, pain, body, tinctures, pre-rolls, vapes, edibles, beverage and pet—each with testers to explore and play.
You can also find the brands online: UndefinedCo.com. I believe in the power of data and I operate the disruptive retail platform through the lens of radical transparency, giving brand partners access to all sales data so we can learn from the macro and micro trends.
I’m excited to move this concept to LA, which will have its own, unique flavor. I’ve also taken the Undefined Collective on the road, hitting events from LA to Chicago to NYC and Atlanta to drive awareness for the power of CBD and becoming a trusted partner to the canna-curious (aka those new to cannabis). All ships rise when consumers understand the role CBD can have in their wellness regime.
If you had one piece of advice for a woman entrepreneur looking to get her start, what would it be?
My advice is to surround yourself with diverse perspectives who can be a sounding board along your journey. As an insanely curious person myself, I’m a proponent of a “launch to learn” mentality- jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. We can get caught up in analysis paralysis and with such a fast moving space like CBD, my vote is to start small, test the market, learn and then pivot/evolve accordingly. The market will tell you if you’re onto something and don’t be afraid to experiment.
You are definitely a forward looking thinker! Can you share one trend for 2020 you think we will see more of?
CBD has amazing benefits- both topically and ingestibly- but there are so many other cannabinoids within the cannabis plant that deserve praise, not to mention other powerful adaptogens and botanicals that can demonstrate real results. It’s about a holistic approach. In 2020, I think adaptogens and their benefits will become more mainstream. Adaptogens are the future and I’m here to help make them more known and accessible.
What next for Undefined Beauty and the unstoppable Dorian Morris?
Continuing to learn and grow! I have a robust innovation pipeline for the Indigo Rose Collection, really solving key pinch points I hear from my Undefined Community. I’m also working on a new collection- currently named Artemis- focused on a new performance-driven, unique ingredient story- that I hope to launch later this year.
Thank you so much, Dorian Morris, for sharing what makes you a Winged Woman and how you’ve become an unstoppable female entrepreneur. To learn more about Dorian, follow her on Instagram at @dmo22 or to learn more about her business adventures, head to Undefined Collective.