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An Open Letter to the white Beauty Community:

Posted on 09 June 2020

An Open Letter to the white Beauty Community: 

As a Black female entrepreneur in the beauty industry who has worked to create a space for women and all people of color, I have been shocked, saddened and angered by the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many other Black people who continue to go unnamed.  Their deaths affirm the notion that despite our accomplishments, successes and hard work we continue to live in a country that believes Black lives have no value.  

I thank the many companies that have announced their commitment to Black Lives in the past week.  But what happens now, beyond the posting of “Black Lives Matter” imagery on your timelines? Are you prepared to present actual plans with real financial commitments or a genuine strategy to effect a cultural change?  

We know that Black women are key drivers of the beauty market, as well as trendsetters, as outlined in a recent article in Essence, The Industry That Black Women Built. At Marjani, we recognize this and have built our business model on the idea that with enough capital and access to resources, we too can have successful, thriving prestige beauty businesses with well-loved black and brown owned beauty brands.  But we know that far too often many of these brands don’t have the same access to venture funding, small business loans, technology and traditional capital, as white mainstream brands.  This creates an un-level playing field that persists and prevents Black owned beauty businesses from truly succeeding at the level of their white counterparts. 

I have been inspired by the #PullUpOrShutUp movement launched by Sharon Chuter, Founder of Uoma Beauty, which has asked for large brands to be transparent about how many Black people sit in executive leadership positions.  As the entire beauty industry takes a hard and much needed look at its practices, we think it’s important that mainstream beauty companies include the voices of Black women in this conversation and in these change efforts. There is no way for you to effect real change without having the very group most affected by your “commitments” in the actual room, at the actual table. 

 As a consumer, I know many of your stores, brands and products all too well.  As a buyer, at a smaller level, I also understand the role you play as a leader and a corporate financial driver of this industry.  Your companies produce or buy and distribute hundreds of other beauty brands which gives you an opportunity to set the tone and lead by example for an entire industry. 

I call on you to disclose what your long-term plan is to ensure discrimination and racism is not tolerated within your company cultures, hire more black women in decision-making roles and commit to a substantial financial commitment to black women owned beauty brands and businesses. 

I thank you in advance for your attention and look forward to your response. 


Best, 

Kimberly Smith

Founder, Marjani

Co-Founder, The Brown Beauty Co-op 

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