Sabine Joseph is the founder of All of Us, a line of skin tone crayons. Though when she made her first beeswax crayon, she didn’t intend to start a business. Sabine created it to solve a problem she had.
“My daughter asked me to draw a photo of Grandma, and I couldn’t. Grandma had deep beautiful brown skin, and I didn’t have a deep beautiful brown crayon color,” Sabine said. She looked online for beeswax skin-tone crayons, but her search came up short. So, Sabine found a recipe and made her own and posted a photo on Instagram. Hundreds of people commented, asking Sabine how they could purchase them.
“I ignored every single one of those comments. I was a stay-at-home mom with zero intentions of making crayons for hundreds of people.”
The comments kept coming, and people sent her private messages. So late one night, Sabine posted a set of skin tone crayons to Etsy but didn’t tell anyone. Despite a lack of promotion, someone bought the set two days later. The buyer happened to be a social media influencer with 30,000 followers. Sabine added another 45 sets to Etsy, which sold out in 30 minutes. The next batch of 125 sold out in 45 minutes. Today, Sabine has sold thousands of sets.
The All of Us brand brings good to the world by honoring the diversity of skin tones and being conscious of the environment. Sabine uses sustainably sourced beeswax, plant waxes and natural earth pigments in her non-toxic crayons. In addition, they are free of paraffin, soy wax and chemical fillers. Paraffin is derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource.
Sabine’s interview is inspiring and uplifting—enjoy!
Artisan Joy: How did you get started as a maker?
Sabine Joseph: It started with the need to validate every person on this planet’s perfection. I didn’t want my daughter thinking something was wrong with someone’s skin color if the crayon company didn’t want to make it. So, I made it my mission to never make this a thought in any child’s mind because we are all perfect.
AJ: When did you realize that you could turn your craft into a business?
SJ: When folks started asking to pay me for the crayons, ha!
AJ: Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
SJ: In the faces of children. Never would I want any one of them to think they are anything less than perfect. I am using skin-tone crayons as a start to honoring their skin tones. I am hoping this leads to acceptance in all the other beautiful aspects of diversity.
AJ: How do you apply that inspiration to your work?
SJ: Putting the energy of love into each and every shade that I pour. I picture the child using it, the joy they have drawing with it, and the joy someone else may experience when receiving a drawing of themselves in their beautiful skin color.
AJ: What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
SJ: My drawing skills need some work. I just learned how to draw a stick figure that wasn’t facing forward.
AJ: As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?
SJ: I imagine the perfect world for the imperfection.
AJ: When it comes to running a creative business, what keeps you going through the ups and downs?
SJ: Reminding myself that all that happens to me is supposed to happen, and there are lessons in all things.
AJ: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in putting their work out into the world but feels vulnerable about it?
SJ: I truly believe we are put on this Earth to help each other. The world needs your gifts circulating through it, openly and authentically. Your gifts make the world a better place.
AJ: Has someone ever criticized your artwork, the goods you sell or your creative business? How did you handle it?
SJ: I knew my work wasn’t for them. And I was able to move forward peacefully with that in my heart.
AJ: Creatives are often very in tune with what’s happening in the world. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. If this happens to you, how do you cope?
SJ: My spiritual sisters and my women circles keep me so grounded—and therapy.
AJ: Are you passionate about a cause, and why?
SJ: My family is from the beautiful island of Haiti, and Vetiver Solutions is near and dear to my heart. They partner with farmers to support community-led initiatives.
AJ: And, of course, we have to ask you this: What brings you joy?
SJ: Noticing the love that surrounds me each day.
Thanks, Sabine! You can shop All of Us at allofusart.com.
This interview has been edited slightly for clarity. Article originally published on 9/27/21. Updated on 4/10/23.