Tianna McFarlane is proving that it’s not only York University faculty, students and alumni that are driving positive change in the world – but staff members, too.
In summer 2019, McFarlane – who is an administrative assistant at the Faculty of Science Office of the Dean – was looking for an adhesive bandage that matched her skin tone. Unable to find any, she decided to make her own and founded Heal In Colour, the first Canadian company to create adhesive bandages for black and brown skin.
“My mission is to make black and brown bandages the norm,” says McFarlane. “People with brown and black skin should have the option to buy bandages for their skin tone. Heal In Colour bandages look a lot better on black and brown skin than traditional pink/nude bandages do.”
McFarlane credits her diploma in operations management with giving her the knowledge needed to manage all aspects of developing her innovative bandages and launching her company, from writing a business plan and creating branding, to finding the right web developer, designer and suppliers to make her vision a reality.
Heal In Colour’s bandages address a need that has a long history of being neglected by big brands. Following the protests calling for racial justice that erupted after the police killing of George Floyd, Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. company that owns Band-Aid, announced in June 2020 that it would begin producing black and brown-toned adhesive bandages. As McFarlane noted during a recent appearance on CTV Morning Live Ottawa, the announcement came nearly a full century after the introduction of Band-Aid in 1921, prompting many to question why it took so long. The company responded that it had previously introduced a line of bandages for a range of skin tones in 2005, called Perfect Blend, but they were discontinued after just three years.
While other U.S.-based bandage companies for black and brown skin have launched in recent years, Heal In Colour is the first founded in Canada. Since launching for pre-orders on April 1, its bandages have immediately resonated with consumers, racking up over $2,000 in sales through the website in just four days. McFarlane says she has been receiving “amazing” community support and is steadily growing a following on social media.
“It’s clear that people with black and brown skin are interested in buying bandages that will better match their skin and not stick out like a sore thumb,” she says. “I want to give people the option to feel confident in their skin while they heal.”
McFarlane has partnered with the York University Bookstore to make Heal In Colour bandages available on campus. She is also working on partnering with Canadian school boards, and recently received a large order from a school in Durham Region School Board.
Going forward, she hopes to expand into health and wellness retailers, big box stores and pharmacies, as well as Canadian hospitals, community health care centres and long-term care homes. She also has ambitions of adding more products to Heal In Colour’s offerings, such as waterproof bandages, first aid kits and athletic wraps made for black and brown skin.
“I’m just excited to grow and scale and revolutionize the way people shop for bandages,” she says.
You can find Heal In Colour’s bandages in the York University bookstore beginning this summer. In the meantime, they are currently available for pre-order through the company’s website.
By Ariel Visconti, YFile communications officer