A popular November 17 2019 Facebook post purportedly shows a women’s self-defense kit in the style of a makeup bag, and the collection of stylish items was described as being sold by a black-owned business:
Its image showed iridescent brass knuckles, what appeared to be pepper spray in a studded or jeweled keychain atomizer, another keychain cat-like pointed implement, a blade concealed in a comb, and possibly a purple stun gun. All the items were styled in pink and purple hues, and several resembled standard makeup-bag staples, like perfume or hair tools.
The poster said that the entire kit retailed for just $60:
Ladies! 🗣 There’s a business that sells self-defense kits. This ENTIRE KIT is $60. (And they’re black owned 😉).
A link in the post pointed to a storefront hosted on Big Cartel (bigcartel.com), an online marketplace similar to Etsy. An “about” page for the platform stated:
Since 2005, we’ve helped people from all over the world sell over $2.5 billion of their work. We’re 100% independent and we’re here to help artists, makers, and small brands open a store and start making a living doing what they love.
The storefront linked was called “Beyond Defense,” and their personal “about” section explained:
Beyond Defense is a family-owned business focused on empowering people to protect and serve themselves.
With everything going on in the world, it is important that we are prepared to protect ourselves, our homes, and our families. We are focused on empowering people to protect and serve themselves by providing the right tools and information for self defense.
Beyond Defense only had one product available for purchase via their Big Cartel storefront (“Personal Protection Kit”), and its product picture was the same as the one shared on Facebook. A product description included five items:
✨Each kit includes:
•Bejeweled pepper spray
•Stun gun WITH alarm
•Brass knuckle (belt buckle)
Estimated shipping for the item was $9.99. A separate page, “product descriptions,” provided additional details about the five items depicted in the self-defense kit:
The wild cat keychain that packs a powerful punch! The eyes of the cat become finger holes and the ears become spikes when clutched in the hand to create an excellent means of self-defense against an attacker.
The Blue finished stainless Aluminum charm includes a silver stainless ring and clasp for attaching keys. The metal of this key chain makes it very light weight, but very durable. This key chain looks inconspicuous, is easy to carry, and will provide you with peace of mind!
Stun Gun with Alarm
This heavy duty self-defense product, is a powerful, high-voltage tool to protect yourself. It is a rechargeable stun gun that also includes an LED light and an alarm.
This item looks like a standard pink plastic comb. Pull off the top to reveal a sharp 3.25″ single edged blade! It is a fully functional comb, with the knife completely hidden. Feel protected in any situation and look good doing it!
Over on Instagram, Beyond Defense posted about a flood of new orders, presumably due to the viral Facebook post shared on November 17 2019:
In an October 2019 post, a co-founder of Beyond Defense shared a video about why she started the company. In a second post, she explained that the company was inspired in part by her experiences as a university student in North Carolina:
View this post on Instagram
Here at Beyond Defense we wanted to share some stories as to WHY we founded the business. 💎 PART ONE Here is one of the cofounders stories that lead her to think about her safety and the safety of others moving forward. #UNCG #campus #uncgpolice #police #GHOE #safety #protection #kit #mace #taser #love #wednesday #public #indecency
Beyond Defense also tweeted about the viral response to the women’s self-defense kit:
Thank u 2 everyone who has ordered! Due to the overwhelming response to our product, we are experiencing a flood of orders. Please keep in mind orders are shipped 1st in 1st out basis.We are working to ship within 10-14 days. Thank you for your patience.🔹✊🏾
— Beyond Defense (@BeyondDefense) November 19, 2019
A previous tweet published on November 12 2019 by @BeyondDefense received significant engagement, just before the Facebook post appeared:
Please be safe out there! We have personal protection kits for these instances! Trust your gut! Pay attention! Keep a #weapon on you at all times! We have to have a plan bcuz the #criminals have a #plan pic.twitter.com/zyOPQsNRmH
— Beyond Defense (@BeyondDefense) November 13, 2019
And on their Facebook page, Beyond Defense had three five-star reviews. We contacted the company via direct message to ask about the popular post, and Beyond Defense confirmed to us that the post was accurate.
To sum up: A viral Facebook post claimed a black-owned company sold the self-defense kits shown above for $60. The post was widely shared, and linked to a storefront on the e-commerce site Big Cartel. The kit was real and accurately described, available and retailing for $60 plus shipping. Beyond Defense is a company co-founded and owned by a black woman. Due to widespread social media interest, Beyond Defense reported a spike in orders of their stylish self-defense items. It was not clear if the five pieces retailed individually, as we only could find the five-piece set.