By Yerellys Michel
April 14th was a big night for FIT in the one and only place – the Great Hall. People were lining up way before 6:30pm, starting at the C building and wrapping all the way around the D building. I thought that this event was catered only to FIT students, but little did I know that the host of this event, AJ Crimson, was advertising the event all through social media. The event didn’t start exactly on time, but it was worth the wait. The anticipation started to grow with every second, as finally the DJ stopped blasting all the latest hits and the guest speakers started to hit the stage. To my surprise, Instagram famous celebrity artist Angel Merino, mostly known as @Mac_Daddyy, hit the stage. His makeup, I must say, is flawless and beat to the gods. I could see his “Highlight Bling” all the way from the back even when the lights were dimmed, so his Artist Couture highlight is truly worth the price. Something interesting that angel said is that he believes that you should be a walking billboard and a representation of your work. Some of the other guest speakers consisted of Perfect Match star Dascha Polanco, owner of Ricky’s, and model Nykhor.
This panel of beauty experts, makeup artists, and beauty enthusiasts touched upon a variety of topics – ranging from the beauty industry as a whole, the impact that social media has taken on companies, consumers, and how people can start their own brands throughout social media – which serves as a platform for free publicity. This can also give you a direct access to consumers and know what they want and what they don’t want. However, the major topic on everybody’s mind was diversity, and how there is a lack off.
Model NyKhor starts off the conversation by saying that most companies deliberately stop making foundation shades at a certain skin tone – a red undertone. Not everyone has a red undertone, hence by doing so, you are losing out on a specific market. If you are a business, isn’t your goal to make money? Therefore, why wouldn’t you cater to people of that color? She says that the reason for this might be because people and industries don’t view people of color or people of a certain color as beautiful as others. She talks about how she would get picked on because of her plumped lips – nonetheless, she is proud of her heritage. She comes from an African tribe where all women have big hips, big butts, and big lips, that once were all considered ugly, yet now everyone wants these African features. NyKhor says, “Different people are being embraced, everyone wants African big lips, but, hips. You need all the shade, it’s more money then why not. Let’s all eat and be beautiful at the same time”
Actress Dascha adds on by saying that brands need to embrace everyone – not just a specific group or a specific race. One thing that she dislikes is that the media or brands company’s target one specific person out of an entire race, and basically everyone in that particular race looks the same. Nevertheless, that is false. Everyone in the Latino community doesn’t look the same as Jennifer Lopez or as any other famous Hispanic actor, actress, singer, or dancer. We’re all different and we should all be embraced. Dascha says, “When I step out people need to see me, brands need to embrace everyone, not only one person represent the entire category, and everyone is different, it’s not all fit one.”
Owner of Ricky’s says that people now hold the power – brands want to know what they want. Social media dictates what brands are making, how they make it, and when they make it. If the people don’t like a certain product, why make it if it’s not going to sell? He says that angel was smart when it came to creating his makeup line, “Angel is smart, he made an educated product, because everyone says lip and nails for their first product tom launch their brand. He’s the first to do highlighter as if first product to launch his brand.” He paid attention to what was hot on social media and gave the people what they wanted. Big companies target the majority of the 70%-80% of people who buy high-end products, while smaller brands target everyone because they want to make a profit. However, Angel targets them all.
Angel says that he paid attention to his audience, who were both his followers on social media and his cliental. He listens to his followers and made his products based on their input. Such as events where he talks directly to his followers, he doesn’t need a middle-man to tell him what the people want – he gets his information right from the source. He says that he has a voice that impacts people – his followers wanted to know what type of product he used on his celebrity cliental, s0 he made a line just for that. He also felt that there was a lack of highlighter in the industry that catered to all different skin types. One highlighter can’t be used on all different color undertones, so he decided to create a line that ranged in shades that accentuated everyone’s skin tone.
Angel first started his brand right after he quit his job at MAC. Highlighter was a good item for him to launch to be a representation of his brand, because he knew that his brand had to be a representation of himself. His company started as an online company at first, since his audience was media base – plus he didn’t have any connections with department stores to start off with. He also shared a funny story: he invested his own money into his own company, not having any investor. He put a down payment to get his good done, along with paying for companies. Finally when he got the notice to pick up his product from the factory, he had already ran through all his money. This is when his MAC selling skills kicked in, so he decided to do a pre-sale and sold 80% of his inventory right away. The money that he received from his pre-sale is what he used to buy his actual product and ship them through. As his company continued to grew and got more social media buzz, he started to branch into a retail store, which is now sold at Ricky’s as well. His latest goal is to get his product into department stores, because he doesn’t know how long social media will continue to dedicate how the beauty industry is run on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. He wants to make sure that if makeup on social media dies out, he still has a successful company. Additionally, he wants to target all customers – even the people that don’t have social media or just like to get their products at a retail store.
Angel didn’t know if his company would be successful, but he knew that he had to capitalize and maximize based on his influence on his audience. His brand motto is very similar to MAC‘s philosophy: it caters to people of all sex, fender, skin color, and ethnicity. He says that he deliberately reposts everyone on his social media account, not just a certain type of person, as long as they are advertising his products. In his first ad, he decided to have a darker model and a lighter model to show their diversity. He knew that this would be a risk based on the demographics of his followers, but this was a risk that he was willing to take.
Finally, the panel closed the seminar with advice to the audience. If you build it – they will come. Find what is missing in the market and base your brand off that, and make sure that this product also identifies with who you are. While you start to build your business, you will see that there is a lot of stuff that you actually don’t know, so be careful that you pick and choose what you are going to invest your money into. They say to make sure that you don’t investigate in advertisement, because there is so much different ways to get free advertisement using YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Spend your money on your product, and make sure that you have quality products. A good way to get your products out there is to provide samples. Samples give the customer a chance to test the product and gives them a chance to see if they actually like your products. You can also give out PR packages to people who have a large following, such as “Free products for free social media.” You can also use different hashtags, especially ones that are trending or trade shows, that gives you direct connection with the audience. Make sure that you are creative and passionate about what you’re doing, and that it drives you. Have good ethics and align yourself with good people that support you. Don’t be one of the people that is just concerned with a profit, because people lose themselves in that concept, but still make sure that you make a profit.
Overall, it was an inspiring seminar held by FIT.