In the natural products space, minority brand owners are beginning to claim more shelf space and, appropriately, more attention. Nutrition Business Journal brought questions of race, access and opportunity to three black natural products leaders, and learned that putting energy toward addressing food deserts and communities of color could go a long way. Other parts of this series will include insight from Kareem Cook of Naturade and GW Chew of Something Better Foods.
Randy Jackson’s Unify Health Labs is, first and foremost, a dietary supplement brand that is inspired by his own healing journey, which began with a diabetes diagnosis, gastric bypass surgery and a swift loss of more than 100 pounds. As a black man—and previous American Idol judge and former bassist for the band Journey—he doesn’t look like much of the industry around him. While he acknowledges the opportunity to reach people of color with his products, his vision is to simply make everyone healthier.
Is the supplement industry doing enough to reach and serve people of color?
Randy Jackson: I think part of what drove me to this industry, with Unify Health Labs, is that I wanted to be able to offer that branch to those who may not even be aware of these types of products. I don’t think [the supplement industry] has been doing enough in considering the problems with weight loss, with diabetes, and all the things that occur with me that are my own personal experience that I learned from, and want to help other people understand better. I think my involvement with Unify Health Labs is the first step in that direction. Pointedly, I don’t think the supplement industry is doing enough to reach and serve people of color, and hopefully we’re [Unify Health Labs] starting the fire.
What could the industry be doing better?
RJ: I think they should be taking into consideration people’s lifestyles: where they live, what they do, etc. There’s usually not a one-size fits all; however, in gut health there is. But I think considering peoples’ circumstances, what they can afford, where they live and what goes into their everyday lives—and how to get them on a steady regimen so that it really helps improve their health—should really be considered. What excites me about Unify Health Labs is that we offer a range of products for different needs, but we tried to simplify it so that people don’t feel that they need to take a list of different supplements. The products offer multiple benefits.
Do you see particular health or nutrition needs in communities of color that aren’t being addressed or explained by the supplement industry?
RJ: I think you have to first meet the people where they live and consider their needs, their likes and what their diet habits are, and then find out ways to get them something that they like that’s going to be good for them—not just forcing them to eat something, drink something, or take something that they don’t like.
What experiences brought you to the nutrition industry?
RJ: Going off my own experiences, I grew up in the South, in Louisiana, in an urban area, so coming from that to going to everywhere I have in my life, and having traveled all over the world, has prepared me for where I am now. I’ve been struggling with weight and weight loss, and being type 2 diabetic and everything I’ve gone through—and learned about health and wellness—has really led me to my health journey and helped me on that journey. It’s paying back things that I love that help me, those things I want to pay forward to people.
What has your experience been while entering the industry?
RJ: It’s been surprisingly smooth and nice and sweet. It’s been a great entry, but I also have a great team to help me. I am thrilled that Dr. Melina Jampolis has been an advisor for the brand, and the team of experts who helped develop the formulas, and a number of mentors, have been top-notch and really helped to bring my vision to life.
What are some of your goals with Unify?
RJ: My goal is to have Unify Health Labs everywhere, helping everybody. The goal is to really get your gut healthy, to get your body healthy, and to have you taking only specific supplements with all your vitamins and minerals needs by supplying a balance—instead of taking 30 pills a day, you’re taking a shake with my supplement and maybe five pills.
I want to see everyone healthy. A healthy body makes you rich in the mind. I’m excited to really bring this product to market, and I’m excited that it’s here, and I hope that it helps everyone the way the products have helped me. And I hope to keep learning and growing and offer my guidance in whatever way I can to help all humans.