This is Some America
Someone buys an arsenal.
Someone picks a location.
Some are shot.
Some die, some survive.
Some cry out for change.
The NRA lobbies.
Someone buys an arsenal.
Someone picks a location.
Some are shot.
Some die, some survive.
Some cry out for change.
The NRA lobbies.
Fenty Beauty, for those not in the know, is a new celebrity beauty brand by singer Rhianna. The music industry no longer commands the great revenue from album sales for popular musicians as it once did. World tours have become too much of an expensive risk for record companies to finance bands. So to supplement their income, and to boost their social profile, many artists have branched into other creative and business ventures, including the world of fashion and beauty. Examples include Beyonce’s Ivy Park, Robbie William’s Farrell, Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B., Pharell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club, Madonna’s Material Girl, Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green and Victoria Beckham with her eponymous label, to name just a few.
Many of the artists have applied their business savvy to their new ventures, with varying degrees of success. Of the above, only Beckham has made the most successful transition from popstar to fashion icon. However she has faced severe criticism for her ultra exclusivity in terms of product pricing, and the lack of models of colour for her catwalk shows and advertising. Beckham’s newest venture into makeup, a collaboration with Estée Lauder, whilst highly successful, again fails to cover the full range of skin tones.
So when news of yet another singer launching a new beauty range, I didn’t have much hope.
Then came the news that the range included no less than 40 shades of foundation, with reportedly more on the way.
Question – if a singer, who isn’t yet 30, with self admitted limited professional background in beauty, let alone the beauty industry, can somehow manage to produce a makeup range that includes 40 foundation shades, how come other beauty companies, some boasting over 100 years in existence, with a host of scientists, experts, managers, marketing specialists and beauticians, with millions if not billions of dollars in revenue at their disposal couldn’t manage it?
The instant success and sell out of the new Fenty Beauty range suggests that the big companies didn’t want to cater to people of colour. It has been proven that Black women for instance, spend a higher percentage of their income on beauty products than women from other ethnicities. This despite the fact that they are statistically paid less than women of other skin colours. Further, products which are specifically designed and marketed for this demographic statistically cost more than the equivalent in the top brand ranges.
One tried and tired excuse was the belief there wasn’t a sustainable market for Black makeup. Another popular excuse, that it was too expensive to develop a specialist beauty range for people of colour.
Fenty in less than 1 week of launch has shown up the big beauty brands, in their product development, marketing and advertising. Their attitude towards certain consumer groups has left a huge gap in the market for Rhianna to exploit, and I hope she keeps doing so. In fact, I would even suggest – ditch the music career and concentrate on beauty!
Rhianna’s brand has proved once and for all that catering to one minor section of the world’s population can only continue for so long. While there is a huge need to develop products and services for people of colour who have been for decades deliberately left out of the loop, my argument is there are only ever be 2 outcomes for Black Owned Businesses (BOB) in a market dominated by those, who for various reasons, don’t want to see BOBs flourish;
1) The BOBs fail as they run into financing issues because they can’t expand quick enough to accommodate the market, or
2) The dominate businesses find some way, legitimate or otherwise, to prevent the continued growth of BOBs, such as promising to use their resources to expand the brand, but after the takeover, they cash in on the Black Dollar and slowly run the original product or service down to the ground.
Rhianna has done something, which I am convinced could be the biggest change to business models since Adam Smith’s Economies of Scale. Unlike other celebrity brands, Fenty Beauty did not simply follow established business norms, but challenged them, then bettered them. By focusing on diversity, individuality and inclusivity in terms of skin tone, Fenty Beauty has in a single stoke exploited the gaps unfilled by not only the beauty industry, but possibly every industry.
7 companies, L’Oréal, Coty, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Shiseido, Johnson & Johnson and Estée Lauder between them own over 180 beauty lines. (Source http://uk.businessinsider.com/companies-beauty-brands-connected-2017-5). Yet between them, they’ve all spectacularly failed to adequately cater for the beauty needs of the Black consumer.
Picture source: Skye Gould/INSIDER
The beauty brands, particularly the luxury sector, justify their high prices by their exclusivity. In fact exclusivity is often a key marketing tool, as it implies quality, luxury, scarcity. The result of course excluding the vast majority of the population based on their income, and indirectly contributing to racism, sexism, homophobia and even xenophobia.
Naturally, a makeup brand is never going to significantly contribute to world peace – but it can go some way to level the playing field. Fenty Beauty is by no means perfect. 40 foundation shades isn’t nearly enough to accommodate all skin shades. The current adverts features teens and 20 somethings, able bodied women, with a western cultural background. However, it’s important to remember that this is a brand in it’s infancy and can never hope to atone for everything that the major manufacturers have failed to do in just a week. That said, Fenty Beauty has smashed through many barriers and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.
Exclusion is not the aspiration of Millennials. They want to be catered for as valued individuals in their own right regardless of income, social background, and of course skin colour. The sooner the big brands react to this the better, because if Fenty Beauty becomes the bench-mark business model, many of today’s top brands will lose a huge chuck of their current market share. Some may even think – serve them right.
What are your thoughts on the Fenty Beauty and it’s brand ethos? What do you think about the marketing strategy? Do you think this brand will stay the course, or will it go the way of so may other celebrity brands? Please like and comment below.
Thanks for reading.
The answer is no, right?
I have like most fashionistas been stalking the online sales and discovered a couple of cool, straw hats from a famous, high end, high street fashion store. (I have chosen not to name and shame this store … for now.) I purchased 1 immediately, and waited until funds were available to purchase the other.
Sadly by the time I saved up, the 2nd hat was sold out.
Then a couple of weeks later, to my joy, the particular hat came back in stock. I wasted little time in ordering that baby.
A couple of days later, my second hat arrived. I opened it the box and low and behold, the hat was not new. How did I know? Because there was a very long blonde hair in lodged inside hat.
I am not blonde. Well not today anyway.
I was straight on the phone to the shop customer care line, to explain my disappointment and disgust. I was asked to send photographic proof, which I did. I was given the usual corporate talk and was assured that this sort of thing doesn’t happen and that I would be offered a discount off the hat.
2 days later, after I emailed the photo, and after I made a 2nd phone call to customer services, I was offered the cost of postage refund – and that was it.
I decided that I couldn’t wear a hat that was a) sold as new when it clearly wasn’t and b) worn by some unknown person. I returned the hat, and received a full refund including postage costs.
The hat is back on the website, for sale as new! Some poor unsuspecting customer will purchase that hat unaware that it has been sent to at least 2 other people and worn by at least 1 other person.
Needless to say I will never purchase anything from that store again, but I’m pretty horrified that this item is being sold as new, when it obviously isn’t. Unlike clothes, you can’t put a straw hat in the washing machine, or easily clean it without considerable further expense.
Do you think this situation is ok, or should stores inform their customers that some items have been sold and returned, and cost the item accordingly? Do you think stores should be allowed to sell these items as new or should such items be sold as seconds?
Let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading
As August draws to a close, the topic which has stood out for me this month is diversity – or rather the lack of it, within the social media genre.
At the beginning of this month, I received an alert from one of my favourite social media creators Kristabel Plummer of I want you to know fame, over on Instagram stories. She had received a comment her on one of her vlogs which inferred she had an issue with her YouTube channel.
I immediately headed over to Kristabel’s YT channel to watch the vlog and then read the comment in context. Here’s the vlog –
Below is a transcript of the comment from Lilly C –
Got this suggested. You’re lovely but you talk too much for my liking..not to take this as a negative, but personally I enjoy more vlogging and less talking. And your travel partner looked lovely
Confused as to how it’s possible for anyone can talk too much on a vlog, let alone one of the best UK vloggers on YouTube, I read and reread the comment. Then it clicked. This was not intended to be a fair and reasoned critique, rather a passive aggressive attack and veiled attempt to silence a popular YouTube voice.
It appears that Lilly C is a dummy YouTube channel – which in itself is OK, and personally I have no issue with. But not if the idea of this possible holding account is to deliberately cast shade within the safety of anonymity.
After much thought, I decided that I couldn’t let that comment go without a response from me …
Lilly, your comment appears as a worrying attempt to ‘silence’ a popular and gifted vlogger, as opposed to a fair and sincere critique. Sade I agree looked lovely, as does Kristabel I’m sure you will agree. But their looks, with the highest respect to Kristabel and Sade, are not the subject matter of this particular vlog. Why focus on their ‘looks’, without one mention of the actual topic of the vlog?
The answer of course is because Lilly’s motives were not entirely honourable. Either that or the Lilly is a victim of this incessant need to place beauty at a higher value than the content of a a person’s character. And yes, I am challenging Dr. Martin Luther King. Now he was a person who talked a lot … a lot of sense which still inspires and comforts millions of people today.
But is there more to this?
Hello World – is a social media event which is due to take place in Birmingham, England in October. Here’s the tag statement –
HelloWorld is an epic four hour, immersive live show like nothing on Earth. Two identical performances on the 28th and 29th October at the Birmingham Genting Arena, bring the world’s biggest Social talent and you together under one roof for an unforgettable, shared experience.
Just a quick glance at the list of announced talent, highlights the complete and total lack of diversity across the board, of an event called “Hello WORLD!”. The version of the world as promoted by the event, doesn’t seem a million miles away from the world a mad man once imagined, which of course was one of the major causes of the outbreak of World War Two.
With so many talented bloggers from all walks of life, faiths, religions, sexual preferences, genders, etc, and in such a diverse city as Birmingham, arguably the most diverse city in the UK second to only London, it is difficult to create a convincing argument as to why the talent is so white, male, heterosexual, middle-class, able bodied, with an average age range below 30 and from bloggers mostly from the world of beauty and fashion.
When our collective attention is being directed towards such a narrow field of talent, representing such few fields and even less voices, it is no wonder that in 2017 we still fighting for equality?
If, in the era of globalisation, social media influencers and power houses can’t manage to organise a truly diverse social media event, with all the technology at our disposal, then we are all in more trouble than we think.
Many of the UK’s most celebrated social media talents also tend to have 1 thing in common – the support of an agency. At the risk of mentioning the C word when we’re still enjoying Summer, last Christmas a number of famous UK bloggers, who are represented by Gleam Futures, were treated to a pre-Christmas bash hosted by the agency. Here’s a video highlight from one of Jim Chapman’s YouTube channels, who is represented by Gleam.
From the huge number of bloggers, vloggers and staff at the venue, how many people of colour did you see?
Again, where is the diversity? How come a British, London based agency have so obviously failed to include a diverse range of social talent? How is that even possible? While we the audience are distracted by all the fun and jollies of the Christmas party trying to spot our favourite bloggers and vloggers, the subtle yet very loud message we are simultaneously receiving is that diversity is not a priority at this, or any other social media gathering. If people are being excluded from the party, how can we ever hope to create an inclusive social media network?
The irony of the title of Jim’s video is sadly all too apparent.
Note, many of the social media talents announced for the “Hello World” event are represented by Gleam Futures, including of course Jim Chapman. Dipping from a shallow pool of talent, will result in lack of inclusiveness.
What do you think? Is social media an accurate reflection of society, or a subtle promoter of far right ideals? Please comment below.
Thanks for reading.
When we think of Afternoon Tea, our minds often turn to the lovely cakes, pastries and of course tea. However, we rarely think about where the tea actually comes from, how it’s manufactured and the people who produce it.
Following are a number of YouTube videos which examines the tea industry. As I come across more videos, I will add them below. If you have any recommendations for this list, comment below.
The History of Tea – TED Talks
Assam’s modern slaves : The real price of a cup of Tetley Tea
Tea documentary; The Bittersweet Truth Tea Drinks
“Tea Time”, an animated short by ESMA
How it’s made – tea bags
A quick note about how I completed the Clothkits Big Birdie skirt –
I finished all the cut edges with an overlock stitch. This not completely necessary, but there is plenty of sewing thread provided should you wish to do the same.
Below is a short video featuring the skirt, enjoy!
Thanks for reading and watching.
Can you believe that in 2017 we still have to protest this? Argh!
Anyway, to everyone taking part in all the marches across the globe today, have a fun, safe and wonderful day.
When I heard there was going to be a new shopping TV channel dedicated to all things sewing and quilting, it almost made my year.
Then I started watching.
Here are some of the main cast of presenters and designers on the new shopping channel, Sewing Quarter.
Picture credit/source: Sewing Quarter/https://www.sewingquarter.com/the-sewing-quarter/about-us/
Only 1 male presenter, no male designers, as for ethnic diversity – well here’s the picture, need I say more?
A while ago, I published a piece about the lack of diversity in the music industry, referencing the issues regarding the dominance of a single artist in the UK charts. Sadly those same themes appear to dominate the world of art and crafts as well.
As much as I enjoyed the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, I was saddened that the range of crafts displayed didn’t reflect the wide diversity of the cratfters, producers and makers in the UK. During my 2 days at the show, I only saw 2 crafter/bloggers of colour at the event – Megan of Pigeon Wishes and Chinelo Bally. There also seemed to be very few male crafters live demonstrating at the show.
When I visit areas such as Goldhawk Road in West London, Walthamstow Fabric Market in East London and areas in-between such as Berwick Street and Portobello Road, I see a united nations of crafters – beginner hobbyists to professionals, shoppers, shop owners, artists, young and the young at heart. So why is this not reflected in the main stream crafting media, fairs and TV shows?
I know there’s always YouTube, but I also know there is a strong appetite for new challenges, materials and techniques. Chinese jacquards, Indian silks, Nigerian Cottons, Japanese Embroidery, Italian Wools are all highly popular at the moment, but there are few places on the web to inform you how to use these wonderful fabric and techniques. When they are showcased, it is usually by people who are so far removed from the historical and social context of these crafts, the results becomes diluted. An recent example was highlighted during a quilting demonstration on Sewing Quarter where the cultural heritage of quilting was only briefly mentioned.
While personally I’m not a huge fan of Colette patterns for various reasons, at least they are attempting to reflect their diverse clientele, featuring models who are diverse in both shape and skin colour. It’s at least a small step the the right direction. Sadly, of all the independant pattern designers, Colette patterns is the only one I know of, who actively do so. None of the top 5 UK independent sewing pattern designers do, as far as I’m aware, which sends out subtle messages of exclusion.
It seems a great pity 2 genres; music and arts & crafts, ideal mediums for bringing people together, appear to be doing the opposite.
What you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Thanks for reading.
Last week, much was said about Ed Sheeran’s remarkable feat of having no less than 9 singles in the top ten singles chart. News commentators made much of the phenomenon, and music industry experts celebrated the success of the British artist and his huge record sales.
Ed Sheeran is a great talent. He has achieved in his short career levels of success than can only be arguably beaten by the likes of Adele, Robbie Williams and Coldplay. A host of number 1 singles and albums, Brit Awards, Sheeran is a young man, dare I say, precocious talent with a very long career ahead of him. His reputation as a musician, singer songwriter of unique talent, particularly in an overly commercial world, is well deserved.
His dominance in the British Music Charts, in any other era, would rightly be a cause of celebration. However, the Music Charts today, in the time of instant downloads and streaming, have perhaps unintentionally shown one side of the industry’s personally, which if not checked, could signal its rapid demise.
In a world where civil liberties are more under threat than they have been in decades, 2017 has already seen children dying from starvation and families destroyed in war-torn countries. Many in these uncertain times turn to some form of escape, such as music, and therein lies the problem. In an industry which is still predominately run by white men, it appears that it’s true face is now being exposed by the one young, white male artist who has 90% of the top 10 singles in the chart.
Actually, it’s worse; Sheeran has no less than 16 singles in the top 20 chart. If it wasn’t for Chainsmokers and Coldplay, who are currently residing at number 7, Sheeran would have made a clean sweep of the top 10. The entire top 20 is dominated by White artists, with Katy Perry featuring Skip Marley, the sole female act featuring the sole Black artist, (who happens to be the grandson of Bob) at number 17. Chainsmokers, a 2 piece DJ outfit from the US, collaborating with Coldplay, a 4 piece British band. The entire top 10 therefore consists of 7 White male musicians – only 3 acts from just 2 countries. Hardly an endorsement of musical diversity.
While the talent of these artists is undeniable, I’m disappointed that there was little mention of the screamingly obvious lack of diversity. When there are so many musical acts, playing a huge range of genres in the UK alone, coupled with the current global political climate, it is more than worrying that there are so few different artists and music genres represented in UK music charts. It is even more worrying in Brexit Britain, that the captains of the music industry, still predominantly white males, are celebrating this, especially in the week of International Womens’ Day.
If after all these decades fighting for equality, today women are only represented in the music charts by Katy Perry, and people of colour are represented by a ‘featured’ artist, then we have a very, very long way still to go in terms of diversity in the music industry. I hope that 1 person dominating the charts in this way, is a fluke. I fear that this may signal the start of a more aggressive move towards exclusion, in the pursuit of profit and we will all be poorer if that continues.
Today is International Women’s Day. There will be several high profile, peaceful protests, marches, events around the world, people brought together for the cause of equality for all.
If you’re marching tomorrow, taking part in an event, or would just like to get in the spirit of things, please check out my playlist of tunes with a not to subtle theme. Enjoy!
If you have music suggestions to add to the playlist, add them to the comments, and I may add them.
Thanks as ever for reading and happy Women’s Day, every day!