Before the social justice uprising that has taken place this year, could you name three Black-owned beauty brands off the top of your head? With little accessibility to brands that represent a range of darker skin tones and different hair textures, Black people are often left with limited options to achieve their desired looks. If we have learned anything this year, it is that representation matters. It should go without saying that Black consumers deserve to be acknowledged in the beauty industry. In honor of National Black Business month, we’re turning our attention to three Black women CEOs who have taken the step to catering to Black women’s needs and are making space for more melanin in the beauty industry.
Wilma Mae of DRK Beauty
View this post on Instagram
Perfectionism is exhausting! It can manifest itself in the way you view yourself, your work, or your ability to achieve your goals. There is far more joy found in embracing what you have and going for it anyway. Tap the link in bio to read @cherylchiew’s latest piece on unlearning perfectionism and how it taught her to see herself as good enough. We hope you are inspired to do the same. What are you letting go off as we move into a new month? Let us know below! #ThisIsDRKBeauty ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Photo @laurenloncar ⠀⠀⠀ #Model @faithjaggernauth ⠀ #Makeup @deannamelluso ⠀⠀⠀ #Hair @mark.alan.hair ⠀⠀⠀⠀ #Stylist @tarzinichols⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #flawsandall #acceptance #innerbeauty #truebeauty #positivity #affirmations #perfectionism #strongwomen
“DRK Beauty is a digital community that supports and empowers women of color in all their diversity. Through curated content, programming, and community initiatives, DRK Beauty aims to truly empower those who identify as women of color and fix the flawed relationships between brands and women of color.
DRK Beauty Healing is one of our first community initiatives in response to COVID-19 and the BLM movement. When we first launched DRK Beauty Healing on May 15th of this year—before George Floyd’s murder—we had only conceived the idea two weeks earlier as a response to the impending mental health fallout from COVID-19. Having never worked in the therapeutic space, our first step was to speak to therapists. We had back-to-back Zoom calls five days a week for the first month. We also spoke to mental health associations such as Mental Health America to learn more about the space and researched other initiatives in our community. We effectively educated ourselves as quickly as we could.
What we discovered is that there are precious few clinicians of color in the U.S. (Black/African psychologists make up only 5% of the total in the U.S.) and the free initiatives that are out there required prospective clients to fill out online forms and share their data and then wait to be approved to receive the free therapy. This added yet another barrier to entry, not to speak of the cultural stigma of therapy in the Black community. In addition, when you are depressed, traumatized, and/or paralyzed with anxiety, you don’t have the mental bandwidth to fill out forms and wait for an answer. You need the help now! We felt that the need was urgent and we wanted to make the process as seamless as possible. Also, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t breach any privacy rules. So my developers built an online directory and within two weeks we launched with a few hundred hours of therapy donated by clinicians we had spoken to. We asked them to share with their clinicians as well. So they continued to donate hours and within a month of launch, we had 1,000 hours of free therapy to give away. We’ve now raised over 2,000 hours of free therapy and we are now one of the leading platforms for free therapy for women of color in America, covering 27 states with approximately 100 clinicians.”
Brittney Ogike of BeautyBeez
View this post on Instagram
@vickyunfiltered did not come to play with us!😍 She is rocking @sensationnel_hair Rule Breaker Lace Wig sold both in-store @beautybeezstore and online BEAUTYBEEZ.com 🥰 • • • • • • • • • #melaninmagic #kinkycurlyhair #4ahair #sensationnelhair #melaninpoppin #4chair #teamsensationnel #naturalhair #sensationnel #protectivestyles #bsshair #3chair #lacefrontwig #blackgirlmagic #naturalhairjourney #naturalhairdaily #naturalhaircommunity #rulebreaker #bighair #kinkycurly #blackhair #curlyhair #naturalista #melanin
“BEAUTYBEEZ was created to fill a gap in the retail industry. What many people outside of the African-American community do not realize is that ethnic hair care and beauty products are traditionally sold in small local retailers called beauty supply stores. Every Black woman has memories—both fond and unpleasant—of going to the local beauty supply store with our mothers and shopping for those nostalgic “Black girl hair” products. It was a space specifically for us! The larger retailers didn’t (and still don’t) carry these items. Due to various laws and regulations over the past several decades, ownership in ethnic beauty largely transferred to the Korean-American community. Traditionally, they own the stores, the products, the hair manufacturing, and the distribution. And, unfortunately, people of color are oftentimes discriminated against in all areas—most notably in the beauty supply stores. We are followed, harassed, and left to fend for ourselves.
BEAUTYBEEZ is a modern beauty retailer prioritizing beauty for women of color. I founded the brand after my own dissatisfaction shopping for beauty. As an entrepreneur creating success in a field where I’m the minority, I’ve had to be resilient, resourceful, and stand out. There were several challenges that came my way, and I faced them head on. I took the time to equip myself with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in an industry that capitalizes off of me. I used my experience as a consumer and infused it in all aspects of BEAUTYBEEZ—from the products and services we offer to the customer experience. My identity and experiences as a Black consumer have single-handedly been the most effective attribute I’ve brought to the business and enabled me to thrive in an industry that is dominated by people who do not look like me.
BEAUTYBEEZ provides an inclusive beauty experience where women of color can shop, explore, and play in a world full of beauty. The brand was created because nothing like it exists and we wanted to be a complete departure from the typical beauty supply. Our mission is to celebrate Black beauty in every way possible—a curated collection of hair care, skin care, and beauty products; selling inclusive beauty brands; promoting minority owned brands; hiring diversity in our team members; tailored services for our unique needs; and most importantly, the creation of a community reflective of our brand’s values and ideals. We’ve been able to successfully create this space because we possess a passion for and knowledge of our consumers and their needs—an approach many of our predecessors have neglected.”
Jamila Powell, Owner & Founder, Maggie Rose Salon
View this post on Instagram
“When I first entered the beauty industry, I didn’t really have a clear understanding of all of the nuances and disparity that existed. I am a salon owner and do not do hair. I was primarily interested in the salon being a second stream of income. I started the salon geared towards extension work, and then transitioned into curly textured hair. As the business grew, so did my desire to become more known in the industry and be recognized as a salon of curl experts. That is when I discovered that salons and stylists of color are put in a box and not given the opportunity to shine on an international platform. Even more surprising, most salons that are recognized for specializing in curls are not Black-owned.
I initially tried to reach out to many of the well-known industry publications, but the feedback was pretty much non-existent. Typically, a handful of stylists of color are chosen to be representatives in the hair world, but new talent is not sought-after. I decided with the access we have to the internet and social media, I would create a lane for myself. I have created a global following for Maggie Rose, along with an educational platform called Texture University, and am in the process of launching a hair system for curls called Naturally Drenched. It has been a journey, but I have realized it is better to create your own platform versus depending on others.”
Images: Cottonbro / Pexels; thisisdrkbeauty, beautybeezstore, maggierosesalon / Instagram
Last week, I delved into a corner of the internet that I never thought I would be writing actual articles about: beauty YouTube. Turns out, all the people sitting in their houses making eyeshadow tutorials have many, many skeletons in their closets, and there’s basically always a scandal going on. By now, you probably already know the basics of the feud between Tati Westbrook and James Charles, but there have been important updates.
Since the last article I wrote about these two clowns, both of them have posted followup videos, and there’s been a shift in the public opinion about the whole situation. First of all, Tati came out with a video last week titled “Why I Did It.” She’s basically like the OJ Simpson of hair vitamins. The video is 18 minutes long, and it’s basically her saying that she’s not back, and she needs a break, and she’s sorry, and she would give all the new subscribers back if she could.
So I’m calling bullsh*t on that, because I work at a social media company, and the difference between having 5 million subscribers and having 10 million subscribers is a lot of cold, hard cash. I believe that she didn’t think things would blow up like this, but everyone likes popularity. And there’s nothing like a YouTuber announcing that they’re “not back” in the form of an 18-minute video. These people are buffoons, and I’m loving every second.
Then, on Saturday, James Charles finally broke his silence, delivering a 40-minute video that is basically a point-by-point takedown of all the allegations against him. Like my dad gearing up for tax season, James Charles has kept literally all of the receipts, and he was prepared for this. He addresses the Coachella vitamin accusations, remaining adamant that it was a last-minute deal. This claim has also been supported by another YouTuber, Nikita Dragun, who posted texts from James Charles about arranging security at Coachella. There’s a theory that those texts are fake, but I really don’t have time to get into that right now.
In his video, James Charles also addresses the allegations about his predatory behavior with straight men. In the specific case of Sam, a waiter who made a video about his encounter with James, James proves his point with text receipts, explaining that Sam told James he was bisexual the entire time, and that the encounter was consensual. He says that he and Sam have already worked things out on their own, and he’s backed down from his accusations against James. James also rightfully criticizes the many people who have reacted to Tati’s video in a homophobic way.
James Charles also goes after Jeffree Star, another mega-successful YouTube beauty guru, who has been on #TeamTati since the beginning of the feud. Jeffree and James used to be friends, but now Jeffree seems dead set on canceling James. This is pretty ironic, considering that Jeffree Star has a well-documented past of saying racist and otherwise problematic things. Like I said before, all of these people have skeletons in their closets.
In the wake of James Charles and Tati’s most recent videos, the roles have been reversed from a week ago. Now, James has started to regain subscribers, and is back above 14 million. For everyone complaining about “cancel culture,” this is not what it looks like when someone gets canceled. Tati, meanwhile, has started to lose subscribers, and if she’s not careful, she could fall below 10 million less than a week after getting there in the first place. I hate how invested I am in all of this.
It seems like the videos are going to stop for now, but all three of the involved parties (Tati, James Charles, and Jeffree Star, if you’re having trouble keeping up) took to Twitter to address the recent developments.
I'm working on not reacting out of anger & working through patience for what this right thing to do is. ??❤️ I remind you all… as I remind myself to do what you can to lead with kindness.
— Tati Westbrook (@GlamLifeGuru) May 18, 2019
First, Tati explained that she’s “left town on a digital break,” which sounds like an extremely unnecessary way of saying that she’s on vacation. This is melodramatic from top to bottom, and I especially love the part about “lies & half truths.” There’s a reason these people all have millions of fans; they’re entertaining as hell.
Here’s what James Charles had to say:
I’m literally begging all of you. The internet has seen enough negativity in the last few weeks. Text your friends and tell them you love them. Give someone a compliment (but don’t be too forward)! Appreciate what you have and those around you. ❤️ love you all
— James Charles (@jamescharles) May 18, 2019
First of all, of course we shouldn’t be sending hate to anyone. But I do have to roll my eyes at the tactic of preaching positivity right after posting a video the length of a Gossip Girl episode calling out your ex-friends. Okay bitch, we get it, you think you’re right.
Finally, Jeffree Star closes things out with another giant helping of melodrama:
Everyone keeps asking me for my RECEIPTS…. I have so much to say and some really sad, disgusting things to show you guys. James Charles tried to mass manipulate you all today. When I show you the proof and WHY I tweeted that tweet about him, you will all finally understand.
— Jeffree Star (@JeffreeStar) May 18, 2019
These people are honestly insane. Can’t wait to get sucked into another 40-minute video where Jeffree Star shows us the sad, disgusting things he knows about James Charles. And then the day after that, someone else will probably expose something bad that Jeffree did, and the whole vicious cycle will just repeat until we get hit by an asteroid. Hopefully it’ll be soon, we need to be put out of our misery.
UPDATE: While I wrote this on Sunday morning and then went about my day, the YouTube beauty community continued to self-destruct for the rest of the day. Before you all flood my DMs asking me to explain what’s going on, here’s the update to the update on the drama that none of us truly understand.
After all that other stuff went down, Jeffree Star finally came out with his own video addressing the James Charles/Tati drama. Like I said before, Jeffree Star is problematic af, but it’s fair for him to address the accusations that have been directed at him.
In the video, Jeffree apologizes for some of his aggressive tweets from the past week, and he also says that he doesn’t hate James Charles. Blah, blah, blah. Jeffree specifically says he’s not going to spill tea or come for James, so it’s a pretty boring 13 minutes.
In addition to Jeffree’s video saying that he won’t fuel the fire (too late), Tati interrupted her ~digital break~ to come back to Twitter and post my absolute favorite type of content: a Notes app statement.
— Tati Westbrook (@GlamLifeGuru) May 19, 2019
If you don’t have the patience to read that entire thing, it’s basically Tati apologizing again and saying that she would very much like to be excluded from this narrative. Despite all the insane drama that she essentially started, I feel like she’s right to say she wants to move on. At this point, there’s nothing else that could possibly be accomplished from Tati, Jeffree, and James making video after video throwing receipts in each other’s face. At a certain point, you have to agree to disagree and just move on.
We finished off the evening with one last tweet from James Charles, saying that he’s on board with Tati and Jeffree that it’s time to move on, and promises not to speak about this further.
Thank you @jeffreestar & @glamlifeguru for your sentiments. I am on board to move on, will not speak about this further, but do hope to speak in the future when we’re all ready. This week was awful for all of us and I ask that the community focuses on positivity moving forward ❤️
— James Charles (@jamescharles) May 20, 2019
Basically, they all want everything to be sunshine and rainbows and eyeshadow palettes, and I’m sure they’ll all go back to making their normal videos soon. That’s all well and good, but you know it’s only a matter of time before one of them f*cks up again and we have to do this sh*t one more time. Deep down (or not so deep down), they all have a trashy side, and it’ll always come out.
Images: Shutterstock; glamlifeguru, jamescharles, jeffreestar / YouTube; @jamescharles (2), @glamlifeguru (2), @jeffreestar / Twitter
When it comes to pop culture, sometimes there’s just too much to keep up with. No matter how much you love celebrities and entertainment, everyone has certain blindspots. For example, I’ve watched over 600 episodes of Real Housewives, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve only seen like, five episodes of Friends. Nobody’s perfect. This weekend, it’s become clear that many people share the same blindspot: YouTube drama.
The YouTube community is constantly full of drama and feuding, but the dynamics can be very complicated to understand. By far, the messiest corner of the internet is Beauty YouTube. The most popular creators are called “Beauty Gurus,” or BGs, because this is a whole thing. Basically, 80% of BGs have said/done/tweeted problematic things, and there are constantly feuds happening based on one person dragging another for sh*t that they’ve probably all done.
T0day, we’re focusing on two Beauty Gurus in particular: James Charles and Tati Westbrook. James is a 19-year-old who has had a meteoric rise in the last two years, culminating in attending the Met Gala this year. Last week, he had 16.5 million subscribers on YouTube, which is actually insane. Tati Westbrook is a married woman in her 30s, and she’s been in the YouTube game for a long time. When James Charles was first coming up, she mentored him, and he even did her makeup at her wedding. Before this whole thing started, Tati had 5.9 million subscribers. Nothing to be ashamed of, but James had obviously eclipsed her in popularity.
It’s important to note that James Charles already had a history of saying some problematic things. A couple years ago, a tweet joking about getting Ebola in Africa went viral, and he was issued one of my favorite non-apologies of all time in response.
— James Charles (@jamescharles) February 16, 2017
In case you didn’t read til the end, James called Africa a country. Yeah. After going to the Met Gala last week, he also posted about how it was a major moment for “influencer representation.” Ah yes, influencers, the great oppressed minority in our society. In case you can’t tell, I’m not a huge fan of James, but that’s neither here nor there.
So here’s where the feud started. A few weeks ago, at Coachella, James Charles posted an ad for Sugar Bear Hair vitamins. This really isn’t anything out of the ordinary for an influencer, but it kicked off a mountain of drama, and that’s where Tati Westbrook comes into the picture. The thing is, Tati has her own hair vitamin company, and Sugar Bear is her main competitor. She was obviously hurt by her friend endorsing her competition, and she posted a two-minute Instagram story that was essentially a subtweet about when friends hurt you.
James’ explanation for the Sugar Bear endorsement was a little strange. He said that there was a security issue at Coachella, and at the last minute, Sugar Bear swooped in and offered to give him a security team in exchange for an endorsement. Um, is that how these things work? Tati obviously didn’t buy it, saying that the contracts for these things are all done in advance, and that there’s no way there would have just been an extra security team hanging out at Coachella.
The feud simmered for a couple weeks, but things finally boiled over on Friday, when Tati posted a 43-minute video basically dragging James Charles to hell. Obviously the vitamins were a part of it, but she got into some other sh*t that’s a little more sinister. She called out James for his predatory behavior toward straight men, saying that he talks about getting what he wants because he’s a celebrity. She also said that the way he openly talked about sex in front of her and her husband, as well as his own mother, made her very uncomfortable. She also called out James’ mom for not being in LA with him, saying that she needs to come take care of her son. The video was brutal, but Tati stayed very calm, and seemed pretty rational in all the things she was saying about James.
The video instantly went viral, and hours later, James posted a video of his own. It’s an 8-minute apology, where he basically owns up to all the things that Tati said, and doesn’t try to come back at her at all. Compared to his normal videos, where he’s talking a mile a minute and throwing in all the catchphrases humanly possible, the apology is a shocking departure. James’ video quickly became one off the most-disliked videos in the history of YouTube, as thousands of Tati’s angry fans flooded James’ channel.
In the aftermath of Tati’s videos, there have been some pretty monumental shifts in the dynamic. James has lost over 2.5 million subscribers, while Tati has gained over three million. There’s even a live YouTube stream showing their subscriber numbers side by side, and thousands of people have been watching it at all times. Jeffree Star, who is one of the biggest names in the YouTube beauty community, came out in strong support of Tati’s message in a now-deleted tweet:
Jeffree has done his fair share of problematic things in the past (read: racist tweets and videos), so it’s a little ironic that he’s calling James Charles a “danger to society,” but his words still carry a lot of power in this community. James Charles has also been unfollowed on Instagram by lots of famous people, including Kylie Jenner, Shawn Mendes, Kim Kardashian, Halsey, and Demi Lovato. Obviously, the message has gotten out that James isn’t a good person to be associated with right now, and they’re jumping ship left and right. Pop singer Zara Larsson even tweeted (then deleted) a statement corroborating Tati’s claims about James going after straight men, saying that he’s slid into her boyfriend’s multiple times.
As of now, neither James Charles nor Tati Westbrook have made videos since Friday, and they haven’t posted on social media, except Tati saying that she wouldn’t be posting a video on Monday like she usually does. Honestly, her reasoning is pretty hilarious, considering that this is a situation that she created.
There won't be a video tomorrow. My heart is still too heavy. I feel like I need to remind you that we can hold truth & inspire change without grabbing onto hate. Honor your blessings, don't abuse them. Celebrating pain will only bring it to your door. love you guys, see you soon
— Tati Westbrook (@GlamLifeGuru) May 13, 2019
I’m sure she’s had a stressful weekend, but she also just needs a few days to figure out what she’s going to do to entertain her three million new subscribers. Her issues with James Charles seem to be legit, but you still have to wonder about the exact motives for taking him down in such a public, thought out manner. It’ll be fascinating to see what moves both she and James make next, but I have a feeling this is far from over.
So there you have it, welcome to a day in the world of beauty YouTube. Do you need a nap now? Because I do; all this sh*t is exhausting.
Images: Shutterstock; jamescharles, jeffreestar, zaralarsson, glamlifeguru / Twitter; Glamlifeguru, Jamescharles / YouTube