How Grief Fueled the Creation of This Beauty and Wellness Brand

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For founder and chief executive officer Devin McGhee Kirkland, Deon Libra was born as much out of necessity as it was a love for beauty and wellness. "On February 17th, 2018, my dad died in his sleep," Kirkland tells POPSUGAR. "I had just left his house and texted him to let him know I made it home, to which he responded with two kissy-face emojis. By the time I woke up at 11 a.m. the next morning, the hospital was calling me."

After that last visit from his daughter, Joseph Deon McGhee passed away from a massive stress-induced heart attack. "As someone who has super high anxiety and stress levels myself, who was and honestly still is, experiencing major grief, I wanted a natural solution to dealing with my own symptoms." This led Kirkland to discover the magic of adaptogens, the star ingredient in Deon Libra's first product, the Unbothered Elixir ($54). "Adaptogens are non-psychedelic mushrooms and herbs that, when you consume them, help your body regulate your cortisol levels," she says. "For me, when I'm stressed, I usually have an eczema flare-up or a body acne breakout. I've been consuming adaptogens for four years, and I haven't had a flare-up of either during this time."

Despite the initial product intended to address holistic wellness, Kirkland is still a beauty lover, and it shows. Enter: the Big Up Body Glaze ($63). "Black people are apprehensive about trying new things," she says. "So I thought it would be a lot easier to convince people to pay attention to their stress by giving them something familiar, like a moisturizer." The glaze is just that – a dewy oil serum that helps the skin retain moisture and has a glow, but it is also packed with adaptogens, which help to combat visible signs of aging and environmental stressors like air pollution and blue light damage. "I'm the type of person that needs to use their hands when they're super stressed, and when my father died, I was making body butters in my kitchen," Kirkland says. "The Big Up Body Glaze is like the grown-up version of the products that I used to make."

Courtesy of Deon Libra

Helping her tweak and perfect these products is Kirkland's co-founder and wife, Brit, and their partnership is one that she treasures. "For us, this company is about living well and legacy," Kirkland says. "When people use that word, they automatically equate it to a father passing something down to his son. But when my dad died, in my eyes, our legacy got passed down to me." Despite being advised to never let people know that they were together, the couple — who got married in March this year — has continued to show up as their authentic selves. "People misjudge what founderhood is and looks like, but almost any relationship in business, for the most part, is a marriage," Kirkland says. "So who better to navigate this with than your actual spouse."

When it comes to the future of Deon Libra, the duo wants to continue creating products at the intersection of wellness and beauty and hopes to educate people about how important it is to take care of themselves. As for the beauty community at large, Deon Libra is aiming to make things a bit more transparent. "Building a company is not easy, even though I do commend us and our founder friends for making it look that way," Kirkland says. "Still, I want us to share our struggles and the lessons we've learned along the way a lot more. It's great if you've won awards or grants, but I and many consumers want to hear the mistakes you've made along the way and what went wrong in the process."

Despite the splash they've managed to make, Deon Libra is still a relatively new company. Regardless, Devin and Brit Kirkland have managed to cement it as one of the most interesting beauty brands on the market today. In the way they've committed to this project with a level of excellence and purpose not often seen in brands twice it's size, it's safe to say that for Deon Libra, it's only up from here.