#4 The Black Beauty Business

The Black beauty business is a big deal – culturally and economically, and for that reason I invited women at the epicentre of the industry for an explosive talk on trends, beauty hacks and to give an honest account of the challenges faced by brands and consumers.

The Black British spend 

The average British woman spends £1,352 a year on beauty (skincare, hair care and cosmetics), however, the Black British woman is estimated to spend a whopping 6 times more than this average. Creating a huge commercial opportunity for a demographic that has been largely ignored by much of the mainstream beauty market.  The exclusion of Black women within the wider beauty conversation has resulted in many Black women not understanding their needs and the availability of products and services to meet them.

In 2010, the boom in blogging made Black communities recognise how far and wide their digital voice can go, fueling the activity and commodification of Black specific events, brands and other interventions. Today, in 2017, whilst I believe we’ve come a long way, there’s still a lot we don’t understand, about the beauty business, and even ourselves as Black consumers.

Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s melanin 

One of the questions I ask in this episode is whether Black brands are dying in the U.K? As despite the growth of opportunity, the ability to meet the needs of Black women still feels futile, especially when delivered by Black cosmetic brands.

I also ask how true is it that “Black Don’t Crack” and how does our acceptances of this notion affect our attitudes to skincare and sun damage prevention?

Lastly, I had to address the rise and plummet of the Afro Hair and Beauty Show, better described as ‘the show we love to hate’ and which, honestly, is seen as an embarrassment to Black beauty and the industry as a whole, but still remains the largest and most widely attended Afro trade show in Europe.

In this episode is the Beauty Bunch, a formation of bloggers, PR experts, brand specialists, market researchers and beauty brand owners. We have a Whatsapp group and often come together on a Sunday at 8pm on Twitter to talk about beauty under the hashtag #BBT (an abbreviation of Brown Beauty Talk). You can read more about us below.

A whistle stop tour of the all-important topics

Black Don’t Crack: Fact or Fiction?

Black women don’t show signs of ageing like other lighter ethnicities, but how does this affect how we protect ourselves from sun care and how do we spot signs of ageing?

“Black DOES crack – and because the beauty industry focuses on White women, we are told that ageing means wrinkling and age spots, but that’s not how the majority of us age. I would look out for dullness in the skin, sagging and loss of collagen” Jo


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Are Black Brands dead?

With the sheer strength of the diversity agenda and mass/luxury brands increase in product shades. Is there room for ‘Black brands’. And if not, how can they innovate?

Jo Gay “If the label is falling off your product, I don’t wan tit”

“We want to be able to support the brands that are targeting us, but we need the convenience as well” Natalie

“ When you say Black brands I’m thinking of British brands like MDM Flow, ColorBlend Make-Up, and for me, I think there’s something really special about these brands” Ronke

The fall of the Afro trade show

Afro Hair and Beauty Live is the largest annual showcase of Afro hair and beauty in the UK, but unfortunately continues to under perform and underwhelm as each year passes. What’s going wrong with Afro Hair and Beauty Live and can it come back from the dead?

Segun Garuba-Okelarin, Natalie Clue “The Afro Hair and Beauty Show is the ultimate snoozefest”

“If this is a representation of what Afro hair and beauty is, I’m not here for it” Louisa

“Unfortunately, the Afro hair and beauty show has got very comfortable. It’s a matter of, if it isn’t broken (in their eyes), then why fix it? It also comes down to ownership, who are the owners and what is their primary motive?” Natalie

How many K’s (followers) do you have?

Being a Black blogger is big business for some, but it seems the brands only care about the K’s, and less about the engagement. As several brands are being stung by the allure of bloggers with countless Ks. Shall we expect to see the revival of the micro blogger?

Agnes Cazin “How many K’s have you got?”

“Brands are fed up with what Kim Kardashian has created. They realise the content is no good, their followers have been bought and they need to go back to real content” Agnes

“There is a stark difference between bloggers that have substance and those that just have followers” Louisa

“There are many of us who have a voice that’s so important and have the power to take brands to the next level, and help them communicate in a way that’s appropriate” Jo

“We are in a social media trap, where bloggers are too busy showing what they are doing, but not having an experience. Most of them don’t care about what these launch events are about” Ronke

“Of my 2k followers I’ve actually amassed an event that connects brands with bloggers, so whatever your numbers, if you want to make an impact. You can.” Natalie

This episode is hosted by…

Louisa Kiwana,  AFROBLUSH Blog & Podcast @afroblush

In addition to creating being the engine behind this blog and podcast series, I work in consumer research, with extensive experience conducting market research and supporting beauty brands with their brand marketing strategies. My experience in beauty spans the UK, Europe and Sub-Sahara for businesses such as Unilever: Lux, REN, Motions, Nexxus; L’Oreal Paris: Maybelline, Garnier; The Body Shop, and Batiste among several others. The beauty is by far my favourite industry to be involved in, both as a blogger and as a marketing professional. It’s colourful and always changing, I just hope that it grows to be more inclusive.

Agnes Cazin, Co- Host, AFROBLUSH Podcast @hait73agency

My co-host for this episode is Agnes Cazin, a real powerhouse in the beauty and fashion industry and creative director and producer at her self-owned agency Haiti73. As I type this, Agnes is consulting at the Natural Hair Academy and just finished a production with Melariche at the Afro Hair and Beauty Show. She has a wealth of experience matching beauty brands with bloggers. Agnes is plugged into the beauty industry and the movers and shakers within it.

From the left (Agnes, Segun, Jo, Natalie, Ronke, and me, Louisa)

Guests on this episode…  

Jo Gay,  Patent Purple Life @patentpurplelife

Jo is the purple obsessed beauty blogger behind Patent Purple Life.  She has reviewed over 1,000 skincare, hair care and makeup products from high street to luxe and everything in between.  Jo’s scientific background gives her and in depth understanding of ingredients and formulas .  She combines this incisive knowledge of brands and an altogether refreshing dash of honesty and wit. 

Segun Garuba-Okelarin.  Lotions Potions and Me @lotionspotionsme

Segun is a Beauty Insider, Writer and Blogger at both Lotions Potions and Me and Huffington Post – where she shares her musings on beauty, skincare, wellbeing, skin-foods, and pigmentation solutions. Having worked in the beauty industry for a number of years and struggled with blemishes and pigmentation challenges for 15 years, she is passionate about highlighting beauty and skincare  solutions that truly work. A Branding and PR strategist, Segun is also the founder of Rose and Clover, a PR, Branding and Business Consultancy for beauty, wellbeing and lifestyle businesses.

Ronke Adeyemi, Brown Beauty Talk @brownbeautytalk

With over 15 years in journalism and marketing, Ronke Adeyemi has worked for a wide variety of companies in the B2B and B2C sector.  She is a digital marketer who has proven success of implementing and strategic planning of branding and merchandising projects. She also has a real passion for Social Media platforms which she utilises to spread awareness about the brands she has worked with. Ronke set up the brownbeauty discussion in June 2013 as a forum where Women of Colour (WoC) could discuss beauty issues that affect them.

Natalie Clue, Beauty Pulse London @beautypulselondon

This appellation sums up the essence of Natalie’s outlook as a cosmopolitan, British born Woman of Colour. Frustrated with the lack of positive representations of Black, Asian and women of a mixed heritage in the British beauty market and mainstream media – she established this blog BeautypulseLONDON to fill this void. She is a champion and a voice for the Black woman and has leveraged the power of social media to spread her much needed message: Black women are beautiful and make an invaluable contribution to British society that needs to recognised and celebrated.

Thank you, I love and appreciate all your comments!