How Marjani’s Kimberly Smith would spend a perfect day in DC


In DC Dream Day, we ask our favorite people in the area to tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District.

Like many Black women, Kimberly Smith knows what it’s like to struggle to find matching makeup, even in the Fenty Beauty era of 50 foundation shades and products that cater to diverse hair textures. So she launched the beauty boutique Marjani in 2017, first as an e-commerce site and then as a bricks-and-mortar shop in Dupont Circle a year later. The company features a carefully curated selection of Black-owned beauty products, as well as a salon offering hair braiding and makeup consultations.

When developing the concept for Marjani, Smith, who spent 15 years as a regulatory lawyer working with start-up health care companies, looked at such beauty retailers as Bluemercury, Ulta Beauty and Sephora.

“What’s missing from those locations is us feeling comfortable, knowing that the products are for us and we aren’t wasting money only to find out they don’t work for our skin tones,” Smith says. “My priority from the beginning was to make sure that we are the priority in the selection, the curation and the variety.”

Step into Marjani’s 1,100-square-foot oasis, where a living room with pink velor sofas invites customers to lounge while they shop. “The space feels familiar so it disarms you, so you feel comfortable and you’re able to really get the advice that you want from someone that looks like you,” Smith says. “It’s not just about a transaction, it’s about the total experience.”

Making sure the beauty needs of Black women are met at every turn doesn’t end here — it means going after more resources to continue to scale up. Recently, Smith appeared on Season 2 of Revolt TV’s “Bet On Black,” a competition series with a $200,000 prize that looks for businesses that “build communities, support social justice and propel the culture.”

The Philadelphia native calls Eckington home, where she has lived for the last 13 years. However, it’s no surprise her ideal day is largely spent at Marjani working to expand her Black beauty haven.

My ideal day is Sunday because it’s the end of my week. I’ll start the day by walking over to Big Bear Cafe in Eckington. I’ll have a breakfast burrito and water. I’m not a big coffee person. The burrito is pretty big, so it will last me pretty much the rest of the day. Then I’d head to Marjani.

Just to get out of the store real quick, I’d head over to Fresh Farm Dupont Circle Market and get some groceries for the week and homemade baked goods from Auntie’s Sweets. I’d get the pineapple upside-down cake, the bread pudding and the lemon iced pound cake. I’m a huge sweet person.

Then I’d head back to Marjani. It’s my second home, so I’d tell my girlfriends to pull up for wine. The day is still going when I get off at 4 pm

I’d stop at Famous Nails on P Street for some self-care. I’d get a mani and pedi. Then I’d stop at the consignment store Secondi to see if there are any new arrivals. I love going there for vintage jewelry. I can always find one-of-a-kind pieces.

I’d go home, change and go have dinner with my boyfriend. We’d go to Lyle’s inside the Lyle hotel. I love the ambiance there; it’s so cute, and the booths are so comfortable. We’d order the lamb meatballs as the appetizer, the branzino, and then I like to drink my dessert, so I’d order the sauvignon blanc. My boyfriend and I would end the day by going to a late movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.

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