Hello there, beautiful Blush family and visitors! This edition of #GoGina is all about this incredible event I attended this past week, B.L.N.D., which stands for beauty, lifestyle, and nurturing diversity. Hint: our conversations were nothing short of “woke.” I met a few familiar faces that I’ve seen via Instagram but it was a true reward meeting them in person. Here’s the 411…
B.L.N.D. | Beauty, lifestyle & nurturing diversity. “A conversation around challenges, opportunities & inspiration in the beauty industry.”
–Siraad Dirshe, Beauty Editor at Essence Magazine
–Kristin Kim, Director of Social Media at Kiehl’s
–Arshia Moorjani, Beauty Expert & Influencer
–Daya Fields, SVP of Marketing & Product Development at Alaffia
Hosted by Bilal Kaiser, Founder & Principle at Agency Guacamole
As I peered out the tinted window of my Uber pool on the way to B.L.N.D. by Agency Guacamole I admired the ancient architecture and beautiful tall buildings of the Financial District. Upon arriving at the Helmsley building I was greeted by the grandest gold ceilings, not-so-heal-friendly shiny marble flooring, and beautifully painted murals on the ceiling that gave me flashbacks of my extra ass art history professor from last semester. While I loved every minute of it I felt completely out of place as everyone who came in before and after me was high income, straight, white males; girl I was both honored and uncomfortable all at once. And then the elevator doors opened to the S.P.A.C.E.S. floor; all those feelings of “I shouldn’t be here” quickly fled and that feeling of honor multiplied. This was just the beginning.
B.L.N.D. began how most speaker events begins: small talk, refreshments, and the chatty Cathy’s awkwardly sitting down as the host attempts to politely command the audience– aka “The event is starting, please sit down so we may begin and Cathy please be quiet. Thanks.” We got into the discussion lead by Bilal Kaiser, Founder & Principle at Agency Guacamole. Bilal asked our speakers a series of questions regarding their role in pushing the standards of beauty, reshaping the industry to be more inclusive, and their opinions on the authenticity of diversity vs. trend.
These empowered women all gave incredible answers as well as advise. Here are some highlights I found to be most enlightening and profound.
-How do we make sure we’re authentically inclusive?
Making sure we’re inclusive through all points of the process?” From product developement to marketing.—Kristin Kim of Kiehl’s
-Beauty in a post-Fenty world: Who is doing it right and what brands have BEEN doing it right?
Mac is a great example of a brand who has always done it right and continues to do it right as well as Nars. Mac has always showcased black women and celebrities of color. —Daya Field of Alaffia
-How do you reach out to influencers?
I create a brief and before that I select the influencers I want. That’s a process! Sometimes I find a person and then look at who they follow and then who does that person follow. We also focus on micro influencers as well. But overall, we really want the influencer to give us their honest feedback.—Kristin Kim of Kiehl’s
Following the event, my heart opened and gushed 1,oo1 tears. I had a beautiful conversation with Siraad about the voice behind brands and how important it was for a brand’s voice to truly be authentic. Example A: Fenty beauty spelling bougie properly and not the generic, mainstream, appropriated and Migos created “boujee.” That was honestly one of the highlights of my night. I also found myself complementing Siraad on her skin imagining how many steps there must be in her skincare routine. She quickly brought me back down to earth in deep, relatable conversations that were more than skin deep. I felt my voice and many others’ being empowered and protected as she shared her experiences in the field and how she makes sure that her voice is heard. By the end of our chat, I thought to myself “Can I be like her when I grow up?”
Jazmin and I also spoke with influencer Arshia, Kristin from Kiehl’s, and Bilal who inspired us beyond words.
When we spoke with Arshia, I watched as she poured so much encouragement into my naturally shy friend urging her to just get out there and get started. I remember Arshia saying that “Yes the industry is saturated but no one is you. People appreciate realness and the not so glamours side of a beauty professional just as much as they appreciate the glamorous curated content.” I stand Arshia after this because she really cared enough to talk with Jaz and get her to stop worrying if her content was perfect and just post.
Kristin was the breath of fresh air I didn’t know I was seeking. I respected her honesty admitting she doesn’t know everything there is to know about every demographic out there but adored her willingness to learn. She was opened and truly reflected Keihl’s mission that beauty and their products are for everyone. The most inspiring thing is that she sees value in micro-influencers and was open to taking suggestions. She wanted feedback from all types of customers. I think the whole room lit up in laughter when she said “I had a black influencer come back to me and say ‘I really like this product because it doesn’t make my under-eyes look ashy.’ I wouldn’t have even known that ashiness was a problem.”
We ended the night damn near in tears speaking with Agency Guacamole’s co-founder and host of the night, Bilal. After working with big names like Sony and L’oreal, Bilal started Agency Guacamole. As I listened to the company’s story and their purpose I realized that I had attended other events by companies similar to theirs, but none of them made me feel this way. I expressed to them how fond I was of their event and how I never wanted them to stop. Having events like B.L.N.D. with people such as Bilal and the women on the mics solidified that I belonged, we all belong in this industry. It ignited that fire in me to keep going. Everyone from the speakers to the host to the attendees were all declarations of the beauty in diversity. I finished by telling Bilal that B.L.N.D. was more than just another event for Jaz and I; that night served as a restart to our passions and validation for our dreams we now know will come true and so I begged him to never stop.
**Insert the waterworks!**
Check out more of the action below and stay tuned for more events with me, Regina Rene!
How do you feel about beauty in a post-Fenty world? Do you think diversity is just a trend amongst brands? Be sure to share your opinion below and let me know what makes you get up and go!