All posts by michanna

Q: What do race, class, and gender have to do with the beauty industry? A: Everything

Planet of the Apps/A Retailers Worst Nightmare 

With on demand beauty apps popping up in the already super saturated beauty industry, retailers will have yet another force to reckon with. “What we think is never going to stop is the acceleration of the adoption of technology” says Shiseido’s global chief digital officer Alessio Rossi, and I could not agree more! 

The truth is that if brick and mortar businesses want to have a standing chance against this “acceleration of the adoption of technology”, the in store experiences are gonna have to be innovative in the way technology can be used to enhance the customers in store experience as well. Besides that, companies are gonna have to dust off their customer service training manuals and retrain all employees working on the sales floors. 

Customer service seems to be a fleeing thought in the minds of big beauty brands, and even now when we are moments away from being able to live like The Jetsons, customer service was, is, and will always be the most important factor helping consumers determine where and how they will spend their money. Now let’s examine some of the things retailers can do to provide impactful customer experiences to compete with these on demand beauty apps!

First things first! Many employees that are now hired by makeup brands with beauty counters and stores do not hire people with previous makeup artistry experience. I repeat they do not have any prior experience! Now I know you are probably thinking wtf??!! While everyone these days claims they are an artist, it is difficult to find enough talented ones who are willing to work crazy hours including holidays, nights, and weekends for little pay and subpar health benefits or none at all. Those factors force brands to hire non artists who sometimes have little to no retail experience to work at brands like MAC, Bobbi Brown, Lancôme, etc…

There are obvious implications here, but let’s just deal with the most obvious one. How can a beauty counter compete with on demand beauty apps if their “artists” are not artists? Simple answer, they can’t. 

Beauty brands across the board need to really focus on artistry programs that define their specific aesthetic (nothing grinds my gears more than when I walk past a Bobbi Brown counter and the staff looks like they are competing in RuPauls Drag Race!), and train them on how to replicate that aesthetic on clients of all I repeat all ethnic backgrounds, ages, and skin types. 

Along with basic makeup application skills and techniques, customer service has got to be stepped up. I have witnessed more cellphone calls, Snapchat videos, and selfie taking while ignoring customers, and it has got to stop. I have also seen clients come in wanting their makeup done and witnessed the staff refuse them because they didn’t feel like doing it! Nobody is perfect, but in today’s society where getting anything is an app away, there is little to no room for error. 

The next thing that companies can do to strengthen their employees ability to gain loyal customers is introduce technology in effective ways. Sephora is a reigning champion when it comes to this because they have created a device that you hold to a clients skin to determine a foundation match in every brand they carry. 

Lancôme just introduced a new machine that customizes and mixes a clients foundation right at the counter for $80. 

Those simple things provide a new innovative experience on counter. What can brands do that do not have gizmos and gadgets? Allow their employees to use cell phones to do the work! After matching a client for a foundation they can use either their phone or the clients to take a photo to check and make sure there is no flashback, weird undertone, or ashy cast on the skin. The cell phone could also be used to pick looks that clients choose from for makeup applications. Oh and let’s not forget the social media beauty gurus! Our lovely millenials live and breathe social media and in some cases will not make a purchase or let anyone touch their face unless the product or technique has been endorsed by a social media personality. 

Since that is the case, clients should be trained on the latest trends and products used by the top 20 influencers so they can be prepared for the questions regarding them. Cell phones should also be used to communicate all of these things because they can provide visuals for these trends and products leaving no room for error.

I will continue to provide suggestions for what beauty brands can do to compete with beauty apps in part three of this post. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

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Planet of the Apps

It seems like I woke up one day, and all of a sudden I could download and click on an app to do almost everything! If I’m too tired to cook (which happens often) I’ll just use my UberEATS or caviar app. Some of my friends use postmates to deliver everything from food to medicine that they can’t get to a drugstore to pick up. 

I hardly shop in stores for clothes anymore because I enjoy the hunt for sales and cool stuff online from some of my favorite stores like Zara, Forever21, HnM, and Nastygal. Now there are on demand beauty apps popping up every week it seems that allow you to get makeup, hair, and nail services in the comfort of your own home where all you have to do is download the app, enter your payment info, and request away! 

While these apps are amazing for consumers, what happens to the independent freelance makeup artists who make their living solely through providing makeup artistry services? What happens to the beauty brands that provide artistry services at their counters and stores? The answer is that both of those entities will loose business. It is quite simple, convenience rules! Let me break it down.

The average cost to get a makeup service at a makeup counter, beauty salon, or beauty boutique (think MAC, Sephora, or Blue Mercury) can range between $45-$100. That service typically includes a full face makeup application and lashes. Independent freelance makeup artists charge anywhere from $35 (yes I have heard that some artists actually drive to clients, unload their kits, do full faces sometimes including highlighting, contouring, double stacked lashes, etc… for $35) to $500 for a full face makeup application service. 

Now at this point you might be wondering why the range in what freelance artists charge is so wide! Well I’m gonna give you that answer straight with no chaser. Factors that often contribute to a freelance artists rate include education. Let’s think about it, a teacher with a bachelor degree starts at about $35,000 in DC. With a MA the same teacher can start at $40-$45,000. Some makeup artists have bachelor degrees, MA, MBA, etc… Another important factor to consider are their years of experience. Some artists that charge $75-$200 have at least 8-10 years plus experience doing makeup which includes makeup at a counter, several certifications from one brand or many, makeup for television and/or film, magazine credits, fashion show experience, award show experience, representation from an agency, or membership in a union, and on and on.  

Social media plays a major role now and guess what? If you are a consumer who wants your makeup artist to have over one thousand followers on Instagram and several celebrities under their belt, you have to pay for it! Truth is, the more followers and celebrities an artist has under their belt, the more sought after they become. Econ 101 says that in order to control supply in demand, you either raise or lower the cost of the service or product! Be careful what you ask for, because you will get it and it will cost you!! 

One super important factor that is often overlooked is the makeup kit itself! I absolutely love drugstore makeup and believe in 2017 that their are amazing brands at the drugstore that can compete toe to toe with high end department store brands. The cost of high end vs low end matters! If a persons kit is stocked with the latest and greatest including Chanel, Tom Ford, NARS, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, etc…you gotta pay!! Think about it, one foundation from these brands can range from $50-$75! If a person uses mostly high end brands in order for the makeup application service to make sense they have to charge over a hundred bucks!💁🏽

Now the last reason for a heavily inflated price for a makeup application service is gender and sexuality. Let me spell it out for you. Gay males get to charge more because they are gay and male. Let that sink in. Breathe. Calm down. Now let me explain. Many women want and need male attention and love to get that attention from male makeup artists and hairstylists. Even though we know as women that these men typically have no interest in us sexually, we still desire their attention. Guess what? These men know that we want their attention, and they often give it to us however we want it! Guess what? You. Have. To. Pay. For. It.!. Men know how badly some women crave the attention and because of that, they can and will charge exorbitant amounts of cash to stroke egos, provide relationship advice, and apply a smokey eye. Sometimes it might be cheaper to keep her! Lol

Now most apps charge the consumer $75-$100 for a makeup application service making the range of payment much smaller. The smaller range in price and the factor of convenience make apps an easy draw, and I foresee the use of these apps cutting into independent freelancers bottom line in a major way! One of the things that I would suggest to my fellow freelancers is to hop on board! Despite some folks thinking that their is a possibility for our society to go backwards, any person with sense knows that it just ain’t happening. 

Technology will continue to change every aspect of our lives, so it is best that we adapt quickly and go with the changes. These apps can and will provide steady work when we don’t have our own personal jobs, and they can provide networking, training, pro discounts, and new experiences. The other great benefit is that you can create your own schedule and work only when you want! Lastly since it is Black History Month I would like to put this out there. Currently there are no on demand beauty apps that have been started by black women. Currently there are no on demand beauty apps that cater to black women. Guess what my fellow sistas?! We. Have. Work. To. Do.!.

The moral to the app takeover is to join them and keep working! Continue to grow your personal clientele because they will always remain loyal, but for the days where business is slow, work for an app!

Fences; The Disconnect Between Cosmetic Companies Corporate Side and its Retail Employees 

I have a friend that recently completed an MBA and is starting a niche lifestyle brand. She has traveled internationally to establish relationships with other brands similar to hers, created marketing strategies to promote her brand and gain a following, develop a website, and planned events to create her own platform. I am super proud of her and know that she will be successful. The one thing that is always in the back of my mind when I think about her education which includes her many years of experience in the cosmetic retail world not only as a sales person but also as a manager, and as an MBA holder is why the company that she works for hasn’t tried to snatch her up and place her in a corporate position? 

Another woman that I know who is now an account executive shared with me about a month ago that she used to work for the same company decades ago, and while she was completing her MBA she shared some ideas she had with upper management but felt ignored and dismissed because she was a sales associate. 

In my own experience I have become friends with some of the most educated, articulate, experienced employees. When I was a full time sales associate at MAC I worked with a staff where about 85% had at least a bachelors degree. My peers came from all walks of life and had degrees in everything from education to chemistry and electrical engineering. So here is the big question. Why In the hell do companies ignore the larger talent on their sales floors? The answer is ego, pride, laziness, ignorance, fear, sexism, and in some cases where applicable racism.

The same way my friends who work for the government complain about having to fight for a seat at the table is the same way folks in retail have to. Unfortunately retail companies do not have an open door policy like Facebook where any employee can walk into the COO’s office to provide a solution to a problem or suggestion for how to make the company better. Retail also does not operate like our US government where you can go from being a real estate tycoon and reality television star to the president of the United States either! 

Instead the same executives are recycled from one company to another and typically when they land at a new company, they implement the same ideas , protocols, and procedures they shared with the last company they worked for. If you happen to have worked for several brands that one of these recycled execs came from, you might be able to predict what they do because you have experienced it so many times!  Another thing that I notice is that instead of promoting people from the retail side into the corporate side, companies hire recent college grads with little no experience in any field especially as it relates to the cosmetics industry. I have witnessed this first hand many times than I can count.  When I have come face to face with these folks I limit my conversation because I always end up talking over their heads because of the information disconnect.

On the exciting side of things, there are new cosmetic companies popping up everywhere that are started by ex retail workers who once did not have a voice! These companies are creating niche brands selling everything from skincare and fragrance to liquid lipsticks and eyeshadow palettes, and they are literally giving these old companies a run for their money honey!!

Anastasia of Beverly Hills has grown from waxing eyebrows and selling products for brows only to a full blown cosmetics company complete with categories for every part of the face! Their social media following is insane, and they have every influencer eating out of their finger tips! The most amazing thing is that the creator of the company credits her young daughter for all of the expansions! 

Melt cosmetics, another company started by two ex MAC employees has also done extremely well. Dana Bomar and Lora Arellano started with shocking matte lipstick shades and eventually expanded to cool looking uber pigmented eyeshadow palettes and are killing the game right now! Of course it did not hurt that one of them was one of Rihanna’s makeup artists, but they have still managed to create an amazing social media following and a cool cosmetic brand.

I could go on and on, but I would rather stop here and address some elephants in the big room of cosmetics execs. The millenials have come along with the internet and social media and changed everything that we thought we knew about everything. For many cosmetic executives that are in the baby boomer generation, those realities must be scary. Instead of holding on to old ideologies and slowing the progress of the companies these execs work for, my advice would be to accept and embrace the changes, and to go out and find people in your companies who have the work ethic (retail workers are some of the hardest working people in the world),experience, educational background, passion for the business, and let them work!! If these companies don’t switch things up, these young driven fearless folks will continue to eat them for breakfast!

Fifty Shades of Brown; Why I Think Bobbi Brown Left Her Namesake Brand

About a month ago I read that makeup artist and brand owner Bobbi Brown was leaving her namesake brand!! While that news shocked the beauty industry, I knew that it was only a matter of time. 

When I first started doing makeup professionally, one of my peers would take me to all the different beauty counters and show me what she loved about each brand. We would touch each brands powders, and foundation formulas, and she would give me the rundown on each brands aesthetic, their targeted demographic, shade range, quality of shadows and brushes, etc… Whenever we would get to the Bobbi Brown counter she would seem to mutate into a “Bobbi Bot”! Her eyes would become glossy and all of a sudden she would become possessed!! All of her sentences would begin with “Bobbi says…”, and I would be looking at her wondering where my friend went.  I soon came to realize that all of the artists I encountered who worked for Bobbi Brown were all the same in that they were “Bobbi Bots” who only spoke the gospel of Bobbi Brown! Eleven years later, I respect and dare I say miss those “Bobbi bots.” They were extremely loyal to the brand, well trained on products and makeup application and Bobbi’s aesthetic, and were able to make all of their clients drink koolaid from the fountain of Bobbi Brown!  In this day and age of social media, all of those things I just mentioned are still the key ingredients to make and maintain a successful brand.

Alright, so I’m sure the question that all of us want to know is “Well what the hell happened?” I have one simple answer. I think that Bobbi’s no makeup aesthetic, her vision, and her voice were silenced, and that she was tired of fighting.  Ten years ago Bobbi had 50 shades of taupe, brown, and beige shadows, and none of them had any shimmer. I remember my friend who worked for them telling me that if they were caught wearing shimmer eyeshadow, they would be in trouble! Some may think this was extreme, but I see it as protecting the integrity of a very specific aesthetic and a brand. Three years ago while freelancing at a MAC counter I started to notice shimmer pop up across the way at a Bobbi counter! Not only did I notice shimmer, but I also noticed whenever MAC would have a new product launch, Bobbi would also launch a product that looked very similar with different packaging of course, but similar to the point of confusion. Now both companies are owned by a parent company that has a larger than life portfolio with at least 20 cosmetic brands under its belt, and it is no secret that parent companies often launch similar products throughout the different brands under their umbrella, but Bobbi was different! With each shimmery shadow, pressed pigment, and MAC foundation in Bobbi packaging I knew that I was witnessing the end of an era. I also noticed the Bobbi artists in all of the department stores I worked in disappear or even worse, go to a different brand. The lines of women looking for that “no makeup makeup look” dwindled, and I couldn’t help but think that at some point, Bobbi would do the same thing as Jo Malone a few years back and leave her namesake brand.  There were just too many instances where I was frustrated with what I saw because it was not in line with her aesthetic! I figured if I was frustrated imagine how she felt! Then there was the whole Kim Kardashian contouring thing. The company seemed to have a huge internal battle mainly because the whole contouring and highlighting trend was just that a trend, did not seem to go with the “everyday woman/no makeup look” that Bobbi was known for, and many of her artists were simply not trained on how to do it.  Witnessing the fall out over a trend popularized by a reality television star was awful to watch but also very telling. 

The brand had lost its way, and there seemed to be no response from the person behind the brand. I knew that there was no way a women who had worked so hard to create a name for herself as a celebrity makeup artist and invested everything into ten lipsticks with $10,000 twenty five years ago would be silent over a trend that could easily be ignored or embraced. 

The reality is that once you sell your company to a larger entity, it is no longer your company, and changes either good or bad are inevitable. While it is truly a sad time for Bobbi Brown the cosmetics company, I wish Bobbi Brown the absolute best in her future endeavors and look forward to her next innovations!

Blackish: Why There Are Hardly Any Black Women Who Do Major Celebrities Makeup at Award Shows

A few nights ago I watched snippets of the Golden Globes on television, and on Instagram. Every time I saw a black female celebrity come across my screen, I looked at how she was dressed, I looked at her hair, and lastly I looked at her makeup! After I looked at all of those things, I immediately researched all of the people responsible for creating the looks, and just like all the years before, I failed to see black women’s names. 

Traci Ellis Ross took home an award for her show Blackish (see what I did here?), and neither her makeup artist or stylist were black women. Kerry Washington’s makeup artist was not a black woman, and Simone Biles, the gymnast who stole the show at last years summer Olympics did not use a black makeup artist or hairstylist. Last but certainly not least our beautiful and amazing flotus for ten more days, who has been the epitome of black female excellence to many for the last eight years, consistently uses a makeup artist who, you guessed it, is not black or a woman.

Many reading this may ask, well why the hell does any of this matter? It matters because of the same reason seeing the movie Hidden Figures matters. Black female representation at the top of all professions matters. Black women on major platforms supporting other black women matters, and you know what? Sometimes a black female makeup artist that has had years of experience working with deeper skin tones would be better suited for the job! Yes, I said it. Now back to my first point.

There is a tall glass ceiling for black female makeup artists as it relates to agency representation, and being in a union. I experienced a ridiculous amount of discrimination first hand by non black makeup artists who were pissed that I was able to work a major union event side by side with them. For the few days that we shared a work space, they critiqued my appearance, my personal makeup, and my makeup kit. While they could find nothing negative to say about any of those things, they resulted in relying heavily on some old raggedy tired black women stereotypes and complained to the key makeup artist that I was “not friendly” and “distant”.  Now would you be close to someone or some people who made you feel unwelcome and grilled you on your experience, brands you worked with, your kit, and personal appearance?While this was one example of the challenges that I personally go through on my road to the top of my field, it saddens me to say that my experience is common place amongst my black female peers. Racism and gender discrimination towards women exists so heavily in the world of celebrity makeup, one of the easiest ways to help solve this problem is for black actresses and celebrities to request black female makeup artists, hair stylists, clothing stylists, and clothing designers.  

Now switching subjects, I mentioned earlier that sometimes black women can be better suited to do black female celebrities makeup because of experience. In all of the years that I have worked in the cosmetic industry I have seen sooooo many examples of this play out. I have been personally set up by countless non black artists at trainings, I have seen many black women be set up and done wrong at beauty counters, I have seen it go wrong at huge celebrity filled events, and I have seen it play out for the world to see with many black actresses, politicians, celebrities, and even flotus on occasion. 

The common sense factor is this. Typically, where you work is what you learn and practice. If you work in a location where there are no people of color let alone a ton of black women who have deeper skin tones, you won’t ever have to use products or learn to use products to do a person with a deeper skintone. Mastering the art of makeup on a woman any shade takes practice! It also takes mastering color theory, understanding face structure, and understanding cultural nuances as they relate to women’s makeup preferences. Last week I participated in a makeup audition, and I had 20mins to execute a look. I chose a black woman as my model, and after I was done, and the administrator over the audition approved my work, I went back to my models face to sculpt her brows. Why? It’s simple, many of my black female clients like a sculpted brow. 

There are several black women killing it in entertainment, politics, and education. I would love to see them look their absolute best when they go before the world to be celebrated for their accomplishments. To further represent black excellence and bring everything full circle, it would be awesome if I saw more black female glam squads providing them with the best hair, clothing, and makeup! Blackish the television show is great, but not as it relates to our leading women!

Hidden Figures:Why Black Women are Flocking to Makeup Brushes Like Black Men Flock to Basketballs

We are three days into 2017, and this post is long over due!  Now some of you might have read the title of this post, and thought to yourself “Now what in the hell does the movie Hidden Figures have to do with makeup or basketball?  My answer is pretty simple, one word even.  The word is exposure.  Keep reading to smell what I’m cooking!

I went to high school in the suburbs of Chicago, and when it was confirmed that I was going to that suburban high school, I was not excited.  I had gone to public schools in Chicago for most of my life, and I was afraid to attend school in a totally new environment.  Luckily I had a mother who was very active in my life and made sure that I went to good public schools with magnet programs and teachers that cared about their students.  I also had classmates that were mostly black, and came from middle class backgrounds like me.  Now I was considered a little different because I was a dancer and occasionally traveled to perform in different states and in one instance outside of the country, but other than that and my natural hair (got my first “perm” in the eighth grade) everything was gravy.  I wasn’t the smartest kid in my class, but I was one of the smartest, and we had several teachers, who also happened to be black, who pushed our little brains to their capacity. Long story short, I was privileged and I ain’t even know it!  I had educated teachers who looked like me and cared about me, and at this point we all know that is not common in many urban cities especially as far as children of color are concerned.

Upon entering high school in the burbs, I had to take a placement exam so that I could be “placed” in the proper classes.  I tested well, and it was recommended based on my results that I take a few honor classes, English and Science were two.  While my test scores said one thing, my white female counselor sang a different tune.  She argued that because I came from a city school that perhaps the level of education that I had was not up to par, and that I should take all basic level courses.  Chile, she clearly did not know my mother! My mom came up to the school, demanded that I be placed in the classes I tested to be in, and that was that.  I ended up taking honors English, and I cannot remember what happened with Science.  Even though I knew that there was an attempt to deny me a certain level of education at this new suburban school, I still did not grasp all of the implications of what had occurred.  Some time in grade school I had gotten the idea that  because I was a girl, could dance my ass off, act, write poetry, and sing if forced, that math and science did not matter as much. I heard someone say that if you were good in reading and english that you often were not good at math and science, so thats what I chose to believe.  Oh and I also learned that girls were mostly good at those first two subjects, and boys were good with the later.  Anyways, I took highschool somewhat seriously, but I was lazy. Real lazy.  I remember taking Chemistry my sophomore year and daydreamed pretty much every class.  I never did my homework on time, I never really studied for pop quizzes, and I did just enough to get by.  The one saving grace was that somehow I always managed to get A’s or B’s on the mid terms and finals.  I remember my white male teacher always looking at me with a ton of dissappointment in his eyes, and I knew that it was because he wanted me to put forth more effort.  He must have seen potential in me(which went way over my head), but he never articulated his frustrations in a way that I could understand.  I was a teenager kind of going through the motions to get through high school, and graduate.

I was an artist!  Everybody who knew me knew that while I kept to myself, and did not have a ton of friends, I could out dance/perform anybody, and I was cool with that.  While my mom did not allow me to slack too much, she made it very clear to me that the choices and decisions that I was making as far as my academics were concerned were mine to make and that I would have to live with the consequences of those choices and decisions.  She also made it very clear that I would be attending somebodies college immediately following high school graduation, so I knew I had to get it together, or I would have hell to pay!  My mother did not play!

Fast forward to 2017 I am a full blown freelance make up artist living in the nations capitol, which also happens to be one of the most expensive cities to live in. Technology via social media has changed the whole entire landscape of what I do and many other creatives, and people are flocking to the creative fields and  becoming make up artists faster than you can say highlight and contour!  The most celebrated make up artists or “make up marketers” as I like to call them have millions of followers, and tons of brands clamoring to get their products in these social media gurus hands.  Many women now rely on Youtube and Instagram tutorials to teach them how to be “self taught muas”, drugstore brands are now creating cosmetics that can compete with and in some cases surpass high end department store brands for a fraction of the cost making makeup way more accessible, and reality stars and celebrities have given make up artists who in the past lived behind the scenes and in the shadows the biggest spotlight the world as we know it has ever seen!  With so many people and especially black women seeing make up artistry as this new golden hustle, we have started to flock to make up like flies flock to honey.

To be a make up artist in today’s world, you just need some money to purchase a “kit”, a strong selfie game, a decent camera, and access to social media.  As a black women who may come from humble beginnings or  be an “artist” in high school that could care less about math and science classes, this make up artistry game is our basketball otherwise known as our way out.  The “golden hustle” is not why I started doing make up.  It was just a natural progression from the other art forms I practiced, and while I think the physical part of make up artistry is cool,  it is also hard and ridiculously competitive.  The retail jobs that you used to be able to depend on to make a living in the past are drying up due to Department stores not being able to compete with the internet. With so many people seeing make up artistry as this new golden hustle there is more supply than there is demand.  Enter the importance of the movie Hidden Figures.

About eight years ago  I started teaching myself about ingredients in skincare and makeup.  I became obsessed!  I would read magazines like Allure and New Beauty because they would always have amazing articles about these new technological advances in skincare and ingredients, and would explain in lay mans terms why these “breakthrough’s” were a good thing. I would visit the Library of Congress and read medical journals about certain skin issues and case studies just because. Now I hoard Beauty Inc magazines which only come out quarterly because I have to know about the new beauty innovations, gadgets, and formula’s, as well as the changes to the retail landscape because of social media, millennials, the economy, etc…While I still rely on make up application to make my living, my interests are shifting and have been shifting for a long time.  I have become extremely interested in what I know now as cosmetic chemistry, aesthetics, coding ( I feel like I could have created at least ten apps by now), and mechanical/ electrical engineering (I once took steps to create a device that would make make up artists jobs much easier but didn’t have the capital to follow through).  I am also interested in business as it pertains to the beauty industry at large, and would love to consult.  What has frustrated me for at least a year are the “what if’s”.

What if in grade school I was told that I could be great at reading, english, and math and science?  What if it were made clear to me that even though I was an artist,  there was still room for me to flourish in other areas of study?  What if my high school chemistry teacher had taken the time out to express to me how great I was at chemistry even though I didn’t know it at the time?  What if I were in high school or better yet grade school when the movie Hidden Figures came out?  I didn’t know that there was such a thing as cosmetic chemistry until I was in my late twenties.  It did not occur to me that I could go to school to become an engineer and make all the cool beauty gadgets my heart desired until I was thirty.  Sadly, I know that many of my fellow black sisters  do not equate science, technology, engineering, or math to beauty, and while Hidden Figures was about three black women who used S.T.E.M fields to send the first American to the moon and outer space, their story could have and will plant seeds in the minds of women all ages and races.  In an extremely over populated industry, I hope that many of us start to embrace the subjects I know we were never encouraged to embrace and create products, and apps, and gadgets, and companies that can compete on a global scale!  There is always more to do and learn, and for all the folks flocking to the new “golden hustle”, know that hidden behind make up artistry can be a window to something much bigger, more valuable, and more profitable i.e figures.

 

 

 

Trump and the Aftermath

Last week I went into my job just like I always do. I put my bag and coat in the drawer designated for “vendors”, and proceeded to stand at my station. It didn’t take me long before I started daydreaming and thinking about my plans for 2017, because after all the end of 2016 is here. Half way through me dreaming of taking over the world one makeup brush at a time, a customer walks in. I spoke, she looked at me, and then proceeded to walk around the store looking for whatever it was she came in for.

 Now at this point I know some of you are wondering whether she spoke or not, and the answer is no. She blatantly ignored me, but because I am so used to being ignored by customers who choose not to say hello after I have greated them, I was unbothered. I chuckled to myself, and continued to daydream. Five minutes later, the same woman told me to grab some things for her, all from brands I coincidentally did not work for. I explained that I was visiting from ___ brand, and that I would grab someone to pull her items. She was heated! Now I’m sure you are wondering why she would become heated? Well my guess is probably because I didn’t scurry to step and fetch what she wanted with the sense of urgency that I may have had to have back in 1876. Anyway, before I could finish explaining that I was gonna grab someone to help her, she cut me off and blurted out “Well perhaps someone else can help me then”, and dismissed me like I had done something wrong. I laughed in my head, not being shaken because as I alluded to earlier, this type of stuff happens everyday.

Fifteen minutes go by, and the same client comes back and asks me a question specific to my brand. Of course because she is still irked that I wouldn’t step and fetch her products from earlier, she says “Well since I usually use ____ brand, can you just “do something to my face?” I mean since you work for ___ brand?  Now in my head I was thinking that based on technicalities I could say no because “doing something to my face” means a full face makeup application, and that is considered a service which costs money, but I am no dummy, and was not looking to argue or have a customer complaint so I said “sure” and asked the lady to have a seat!

Almost as soon as she sat down, she started talking about politics. She talked about how awful it was going to be with Trump in office, and how our country was going to go backwards, and how she worked in politics, etc…Here and there I would engage her and discuss statistical data in regards to Americans and the break down of how we all voted (she had no idea that 96% of black women voted for Hillary while 52% of white women voted for Trump),shared with her a few funny anecdotes on my experience at the DNC this past July, we discussed where we both were from, our educational backgrounds, etc… Overall I kept the mood light, because Trump is the president elect, and somehow someway we have to move forward. At the end of our surprisingly pleasant conversation, she looked me dead in my eyes scrunched up her face as if she was really trying to understand something with all of her being and asked “How do you know all of this stuff?”, now people ask me that question all the time, but the way that she asked the question reminded me of the other statement made by many people towards me at least once a week and millions of other people who look like me and that is the ” You are so articulate” micro aggression which makes the assumption that because of the color of my skin my vocabulary will be basic at best, that I am uneducated, and that there is no way that I could have a decent conversation about politics (even though I had already shared my educational background and live in DC which makes it almost impossible to be clueless about politics). 

Not feeling up to reiterating my specific educational background or providing a history lesson, I just replied that I love to understand the world around me and the people who live in it, which is the truth, and gave her a Kanye shrug. After that, she felt the need to bring up how awful the election of Trump would be for race relations and for immigrants and proceeded to tell me that she had a black son. At that moment, I realized that while I live in a city that voted 96% Democratic that many of the folks who view themselves as liberals and progressives have a long way to go. 

Rewinding my experience with this one woman took me from slavery into modern day times, but I controlled our journey into the future. If I had made the decision to “step and fetch” the items that she asked for initially, I would have been making a subconscious decision for us both reinforcing the same crazy ideologies that got Trump elected in the first place. If I had declined her request for me to “do something to her face”, the experience could have turned nasty and strengthened the unwavering stereotype of the angry black woman inserting me as that woman. Had I chose not to be myself and engage her in conversation, she would not have been caught off guard by my educated and articulate thoughts and responses which she obviously needed for various reasons.

Finally I remembered that everything happens for a reason, and both of us needed to share in that experience. Racism is alive and well in many, and fighting it requires many strategies. As my granny always said, there is more than one way to skin a cat.