Dear Confidence Crew,
As we sit in a state of reflection and celebration for this year’s Juneteenth, I wanted to take a look back on the past year of pivotal, culturally relevant conversations that have swept the beauty industry. Following the devastating May 2020 murder of George Floyd, the beauty industry underwent what I would consider some of the most pertinent changes, where topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion were brought to the forefront. From nationwide social media challenges to boardroom conversations, the industry was forced to address its ongoing disparities as it relates to fair and equitable opportunities for members of the Black community. While the cause of the shift was rooted in profound pain and sadness, I believe we’re living through more actionable and thoughtful times because of it. However, as with any historical shift, momentum is the catalyst in driving long-term, systemic change; and I hope to continue the dialogue that started last June.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen this industry grow and transform into a more inclusive, accurately representative view of today’s multicultural consumer—but we have a long way to go. Thinking back to my childhood, the odds weren’t in my favor to find women who looked like me in beauty campaigns or television—Black and full figured. My shape was generally typecast, which landed curvier women in hypersexual, or tomboy roles. Today, our magazines, televisions, runways, and Instagram feeds are rightfully full of beautiful, plus size models who are dominating the modeling industry and paving a way for generations to come. Similarly, years ago, it was uncommon to spot men, members of the trans community, or persons with disabilities spotlighted in major brand campaigns. Progress.
But, why the long wait? Here’s an industry that’s entirely built on helping people look and feel their best, but several demographics have been overlooked for decades—from product innovation and marketing representation to holding decision-making roles behind the scenes. 2020 helped change that.
It’s impossible to retell the stories of June 2020 without mentioning the name of Sharon Chuter, a fellow beauty CEO and the founder of UOMA Beauty, who boldly launched the Pull Up For Change campaign last summer. The movement, which sparked nationwide conversation, caught the attention of editorial giants Allure, Forbes, Elle, WWD, Glossy, Glamour, Essence, and many more, thrusting the campaign’s reach far beyond the beauty industry. Household companies, like Netflix, Airbnb, and Starbucks were among the respondents. The goal was simple: push brands to be transparent about the racial makeup of their corporate teams, shining a light on the under-representation of Black people in corporate America, particularly in leadership roles. More specifically, Pull Up For Change encourages brands to push for 10%+ Black corporate employment, keeping in line with the percentage of Black college degree holders.
I’ve seen firsthand the immeasurable benefits of having a diverse corporate team—receiving thoughtful product development feedback in real-time, pulling from everyone’s experiences as consumers, inviting more diversity of thought into the process, and hearing from the voices and demographics that we’re marketing to are just a few! And just as Pull Up For Change forced companies into more transparent hiring practices, it also sparked open dialogue surrounding race across the board.
So, how do we keep it going?
I created LYS Beauty to be a celebratory destination for people to acknowledge, own, and appreciate their own, unique beauty. And while the brand is in its infancy, the mission has been cemented since day one of conception. As CEO, I remain committed to this fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and wanted to share how LYS will keep forging forward. These are complex matters — there’s no denying that! But focusing on how each of us can contribute through incremental and measurable efforts is paramount for the long-term.
I’m incredibly proud of our wide range of products; and aligning with Black and minority influencers, creatives, models, photographers, and talent remains a top priority for the brand. Generating opportunities behind-the-scenes is equally as important as ensuring your brand speaks to the masses. When a person interacts with my brand through social media, influencer marketing, or visual elements, I hope they feel a true sense of belonging because this brand was created with everyone in mind. Gone are the days of predetermined ideals and one-dimensional views of beauty. We proudly work with persons of different backgrounds, ethnicities, religious and political affiliations, gender identifications, and more.
Additionally, I’ve always believed that clean beauty options should be more widely available, and I will continue working with the lab to create beauty solutions that accommodate a myriad of complexions, skin types, and skin concerns. This advocacy from a brand leadership position can help transform the marketplace with each launch into a more diverse space for consumers.
Your decision-making capability is your tool. Behind each brand is a leadership team tasked with product development, marketing campaigns, forecasting, financial strategies, and other decision-making opportunities on behalf of the brand. I encourage brand leaders to look within your company walls to see if it represents who the brand is targeting. You can’t effectively market to a demographic without any insight or feedback from said demographic. Find areas within your team to bring on people with different experiences and perspectives to the table, and create a safe space for them to share them. When brand leaders prioritize DEI behind-the-scenes, it cultivates a collaborative environment from which positive brand decisions can be birthed.
Your wide-reaching platform is your tool. People from all over the world seek your content to entertain, educate or inspire and when used properly, your platform can elevate conversations that are important to you. Take your audience down the unbeaten path to discover burgeoning brands that align with your personal ethos, and advocate on behalf of them. Each of you serves as the bridge behind brands and their target audiences, and this is the easiest way to shine the spotlight on companies who are truly walking the walk.
Your voice is your tool. Keep making your voices, wants, and expectations for brands heard through social media, product reviews, and feedback. Brands are always seeking ways to turn consumer wants into a reality, and there’s no better time than now to hold brands accountable for the DEI you hope to see. Keep demanding what you want from wider shade ranges to more inclusive campaigns from brands, and show who and what you support fiscally.
It’s my hope that in writing this letter, I’ve reinspired and empowered each of you to continue the fight in your respective ways. Because when momentum is on our side, the sky's the limit for this industry.