What It's Like to Be Young and Black in the Beauty Industry
What It's Like to Be Young, Black, and Hungry in the Beauty Industry
After the death of George Floyd last summer and the racial reckoning that followed, several companies began to make efforts to combat the barriers of entry into the beauty industry by announcing their plans to support well-deserving entrepreneurs of color with funding. Glossier, for example, set aside $500,000 worth of grants to Black-owned beauty businesses in June.
"I've spent a lot of time applying for funding and opportunities that have become available in the last 10-11 months, and I'm glad that I'm in the position to grow my business when there are so many people willing to support me," said May. "It's important that this 'generosity' doesn't dry up as time goes on because access to funding is and will continue to be a barrier for Black entrepreneurs."
An unprecedented outlier of this generation's impact in beauty is the desire to give back and make lasting change. Amor, for example, has created an empowerment summit called "Hair I Am" for up-and-coming hairstylists in the industry. Amid the Black Lives Matter movement in June, Topicals donated its marketing budget originally allocated for launch to mental health organizations like Therapy for Black Girls and Fearless Femme 100. Hughes hopes to become a cartoonist someday to create animations that center Black stories. And to this day, Folusewa won't model for a brand or company that doesn't genuinely support Black people.
"With the brands that [my agency] secures for me and the other models — the hairstylists, the makeup artists — these are people who are familiar with people who look like me," she said. "It's nice now to be confident enough to know that, when I go for a job, I have someone I can talk to who can help me, who can speak for me, and advocate for me."
In the end, there's one consistent theme that exists in each young entrepreneur: hunger, drive, and passion. Folusewa's portfolio has only grown in the last six years; Olowe is now a rising star in the skin-care industry; Amor has added celebrities like Lala Anthony and Cardi B's sister, Hennessy, to her roster; and May's plant-based extensions are now available for pre-order.
When building a brand in an industry that doesn't often make room for people who look like you, fear is inevitable. But pushing past your internal dialogue is exactly what makes it worthwhile in the end. "I'm overwhelmed by fear at least once a day by something, but I've learned to work through it," May said. "My friends tell me that the fear I feel is a reminder that growth is coming."