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Women of colour are often made to feel excluded from mainstream industries, one of which is the contentious beauty industry. Just recently in South Africa, Clicks was subject to a hair-raising beauty campaign that seemed to suggest that the hair of Black women was substandard.
Not only is this disrespectful to black lives, it is also evidence of an absence of representation and diversity within the organization. And we are talking about a South Africa with a population of about 80% black people (stand to be corrected). No ways�� @Clicks_SA https://t.co/HWtfH40HCY
— Zozibini Tunzi (@zozitunzi) September 4, 2020
Currently, it’s been placed in an acceptable, agreeable arena having checked the inclusion box. Sadly, inclusion, as defined currently, isn’t inclusion at all nor has the industry been adjusted to make way for a specific woman with specific requirements.
To ensure that the local beauty industry is as inclusive as possible, here are five key factors to help see the industry realise its potential and adjust its strategy to suit.
1. Making beauty spaces more comfortable
The beauty industry may outwardly seem unassuming but has largely escaped the call for inclusivity in its practice and ownership. “The exclusion of women of colour in its marketing, its storytelling and its value chain has left the limited narrative of what beauty is unchallenged. Simply put, Brown and Black women are the labour that provides beauty experiences but have little other representation at the tables that make decisions. We are changing that. By bringing radical change to the way beauty is defined, understood and practised so that we create opportunities for women of colour through the community,” says Divya Vasant, CEO and founder of Amazi.
2. Embrace true empowerment
The potency of the word ‘empowerment’ has been diluted to become a begrudging appointment of a woman of colour to a space that needs a more diverse marketing brochure, or we’ve made it a charitable cause because we don’t believe that women of colour have potential. It is an economic necessity for women of colour to be invested in and the first hurdle is creating access to the knowledge women need to elevate themselves.
“We need to place easily accessible education and skills development into the hands of women who are determined to change their circumstances and, thereby change the economy,” says Vasant.
3. Create communities
Have you heard the most recent call to action for women to collaborate over competing with each other? If that sounds unrealistic or just some sort of marketing jargon used over Women’s Month, don’t dismiss the idea outright. More women are reaching out to one another and forming digital communities to share, learn and to support each other in their personal and professional growth. Talent and ambition are important but the community is even more important for long-term success.
Technology has put the power in the hands of people open to redefine present beauty standards and allow for boosted publicity that needn’t dent a hole in your pocket. Social media brings with it a sense of excitement though on the flip side of the coin, it also brings dread and fear. Don’t let this become you and cause you to stay stuck in a prison of unbelief and doubt in your abilities. Grab your phone and get social.
Share posts of your work and with permission, happy clients. Sure, there’s tons of competition out there though believe that you have something of quality to offer your audience. When you are purposeful in what you do, you will connect with an audience that shares your values, your beliefs and your passion. If you don’t have an Instagram, YouTube or TikTok page, get started and watch your community grow.
5. Invest in yourself
This pandemic has shaken us up in so many ways. It’s changed the way we work, the way we live, the way we parent. For many of us, it’s cost us our livelihoods and with that, the confidence in ourselves as talented, resourceful women. We’ve all heard the saying ‘through every crisis lies opportunity’ but for most of us, it was probably a catchy fridge magnet or a forwarded meme we saw on a family WhatsApp chat.
What those fridge magnets left off is that it all comes down to you and your mindset. If you know who you are, what your purpose is, and why you matter (because you do), you will see opportunities where others don’t. So, the first step to restoring your life post this pandemic is to invest in the learning experiences that replenish your core personal strength reserves.