It doesn't start with just the communications team and the imagery you see on social media — that's the last step. When you're thinking about the evolution of a product, from the idea to it actually hitting the marketplace and editors and influencers and consumers talking about it, there's so much that happens before then. And so if you don't have Black chemists, Black women on the research and development team who are thinking about the concerns of all people, then everything else is null and void, at that point.
It's not an unbiased statement, but Farmacy really is the first organisation where I felt 100 percent safe and my opinions valued. Women here have told me blatantly: "You were underpaid in every position that you were at previously, and we value you more than that and the work that you've done has contributed to that."
I cried after that moment because there was no one in my life, no one in my career, who has told me that I'm good enough. For someone like me, who's 29, who's been in this career since I graduated, I was fortunate enough that when I did graduate from college, I went straight into the workforce, but it's really unfortunate.
How You Can Support and Stand For Change
People need to be very critical about their consumption of products and the companies that they support
People need to be very critical about their consumption of products and the companies that they support. I challenge you: Take a look at your medicine cabinet, look at all of the brands that you use in a week or in a day, as part of your beauty regimen. Pull every brand from your cabinet that either hasn't said anything about this issue or has performatively or passively mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement. Don't use them this week.
What I think you'll see is the brands you'll be left with are probably small, indie brands. Because indie beauty is paving the way for social change and that your larger conglomerates and, again, French luxury brands will not be there. The brands that do it well, and that are on the right side of this issue, tend to be the ones with a smaller piece of this multibillion-dollar pie. For real social change to happen, we've got to get some of these larger companies on board, and I don't know if that's going to happen.
Before you buy a product, look at their LinkedIn. Google one of your favourite brands, and take a look at their executive board, their leadership team, at all levels. A lot of the stuff is public knowledge. Who are their assistants, who are the managers, who are the human resource operators, who is on their art team, their social media team? Take a look at that list. Do you see faces like yours? If you don't, then take a moment to evaluate and examine if this is a product that you want to continue using.
It's not enough to look at a brand's Instagram, because it can be very performative. It's an opportunity in which they have been able to save grace, if you will. The reposting of quotes, the reposting of videos — that is the bare minimum, but it's not enough.
I'm glad that a lot of brands are being called out and held accountable, particularly in this moment, but I want to also be aware that there's constantly room for growth. I do think there is hope.
There is a lot of work that can be done, and that's the thing that keeps me going: the fact that there are passionate people who are willing to do the work. I'm not going to send some bullsh*t email that says, "Hope all is well," and then pivot to, "Oh, and by the way, did you realise that we have a launch happening this week?" No. Publicists aren't robots; we're real people. It can be cathartic to acknowledge this is something we're all feeling, and to see just how many people are willing to step up and show that we are truly in this together.