Over the past few weeks, we have seen an unprecedented outpour of support and solidarity from public figures, celebrities, individuals and brands in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Floyd was murdered by four Minneapolis police officers on May 25, ilicting ongoing protests—and he unfortunately is just one of the latest in a long string of black men and women unjustifiably killed by law enforcement. While many brands have taken to voicing their support, beauty brands have been very vocal; taking to their websites and social media channels to express their dedication to black issues. But is an Instagram post enough?
In this day and age consumers and beauty lovers are demanding more. One Twitter user, @dyanayvette, has even taken to creating and maintaining a Google doc of each beauty brand’s response to “Black life and police brutality.” However, it goes beyond just their response to #BlackLivesMatter. More than a few beauty brands have been called out in the past for the lack of Black representation in their campaigns, product launches and on their teams and digital channels. Are these brands just being performative, or are they really willing to do the work to create equity for the black community?
So what else can they do? I asked several Black beauty influencers how brands can do more than just offer “words of solidarity,” in other words, how can beauty brands actually “pull up” for Black people?
You can't claim to be forward thinking and support creators, and not offer products they can actually use.
Shanygne Maurice (a.k.a. Too Much Mouth)
“I've seen a couple beauty brands recently say, ‘moving forward [they] want to support black creators and MUA's.’ While it's nice to hear and I'll definitely pay attention to see who keeps their word, change needs to start from within. Having black employees truly be a part of the brand and contributing to decisions is necessary. Also, brands need to evaluate what they have to offer consumers and creators. You can't claim to be forward thinking and support creators, and not offer products they can actually use. Be genuinely inclusive across the board, from the products on up. Post more black creators on your social media pages and in your marketing. Add more to your PR lists. Literally, all they have to do is offer the same exact things they give to everyone else and then you can move the needle with black creators. Nothing extraordinary. Stop treating us like an afterthought.”
The best way...is to work with the very community you want to improve on representing.
“In my opinion businesses can show up for black influencers by working with, and fairly compensating, black creators. The best way to get accurate and appropriate perspectives is to work with the very community you want to improve on representing.”
Don't be bullied into including us. Don't do it because it's now trendy to be inclusive. Do it because you actually want to.
“Firstly, they can acknowledge that they have not included us. Period. They can acknowledge that they've ignored our comments, questions, emails, messages and meetings, regarding inclusion and underrepresentation. Then, they can keep their word. Don't be bullied into including us. Don't do it because it's now trendy to be inclusive. Do it because you see the need for black representation by your brand. Do it because you actually want to. And when you do it, pay us what we're worth.”
Miracle “Bun” Sepulveda
Making sure to amplify black voices on their social media and showing black representation by keeping up that energy year round; not just right now.
Miracle “Bun” Sepulveda
“The largest impact comes from brands who don't just recognize the injustice but who are also doing their part to stimulate change. I think it's easy to assume ‘I'm a beauty brand, what can I actually do to help?’ And the answer is A LOT. Money speaks volumes and can help bolster initiatives. Making sure to amplify black voices on their social media and showing black representation by keeping up that energy year round; not just right now. Also, use social media to educate your followers and do more outreach; these are ways to stand in solidarity and do something impactful.”
When it comes to customers, make sure you are actively listening to concerns or things they would like to achieve whether it be with skin, makeup or hair.
"Some of the ways brands can work better with the Black beauty community is doing more outreach; exploring platforms for fresh new talent. They can ensure the creator is compensated and not just with free product, whether their platform is big or small. Valuing their time and building a relationship to get a sense of who they are and what they value and care about.
When it comes to customers, make sure you are actively listening to concerns or things they would like to achieve whether it be with skin, makeup or hair. Really take the time to go in-depth [i.e. research and development] to deliver great products, and educate them on proper use. Have black representation in your stores and make your black customer feel welcomed and a sense of belonging."
It's time to do the unexpected.
“What the major beauty brands can do that would send a huge message would be endorsing more black beauty influencers or incorporating more black people in their commercials and campaigns. Seeing more black representation from major brands would be huge. It's hard to believe that a company's top customer is only 20% represented [in their advertising and marketing]. They can donate money to all these different funds like Black Lives Matter or the NAACP, however that is what they're expected to do. It's time to do the unexpected.”
Kimberlee Brown Mighty
It starts with those boardroom meetings. Ensure that there is proper representation of our community in those product development rooms.
Kimberlee Brown Mighty
"In regards to how the beauty industry can show up for Black beauty influencers and Black consumers, I would say that it starts with those boardroom meetings. Ensuring that there is proper representation of our community in those product development rooms, and in those clinical studies, will help to keep our voices heard and valued. In addition, ensuring that these brands have a wide array of Black Influencers on their PR lists will allow Black consumers to see an authentic review of how these products really work for us."
So there you have it folks, straight from the well. If beauty brands really want to show up for their black fans and customers they can: work with black content creators, hire black team members and keep that #BlackGirlMagic energy YEAR ROUND. The only question left is; will brands actually pull up? Let’s hope so.