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Creating Conversations, Raising Awareness

From launching new content series to in-store promotions, retailers and beauty brands are shining a light on Black founders, brands and creators with an array of programs for Black History Month.

Almost two years after the murder of George Floyd and the rise of the new social justice movement, Black History Month is an opportunity for brands and retailers to assess their progress in achieving true representation and inclusivity across all aspects of their business.

“Black beauty has an undeniable influence on our industry and we work to acknowledge that influence every day,” said Kecia Steelman, chief operating officer of Ulta Beauty.

To that end, Ulta has created a campaign called “Ode to Black Beauty,” with dedicated efforts in-store and across social media to amplify Black founders, Black-owned brands and creators.

On the product front, Sharon Chuter’s Make it BLACK collection for Uoma Beauty will launch exclusively at the retailer, with all profits going to Pull Up for Change Impact Fund, and all purchases of Black-owned brands will receive 10x Ultamate Rewards points for the month.

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The retailer also unveiled its 2022 diversity, equity and inclusivity commitments, including dedicating $25 million in media investments with multicultural platforms, investing $8.5 million to brand marketing support for Black-owned, founded and led brands and launching a Brand Partner Accelerator Program, focused on early-stage brands by Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Ulta is also allocating $3.5 million to in-store merchandising support.

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The Estée Lauder Cos. has created a content series called Journeys, highlighting stories of strength and resilience. Divided into four categories, it includes The Journey to Freedom, focused on pioneers in the fight for equality; The Journey Through Culture, looking at the evolution of Black music and media; The Journey Through Beauty, with a focus on Black hair, and The Journey Home, honoring people of color across the diaspora, including African Americans, Africans, Afro Caribbeans and Afro Latinas.

Sephora has created a monthlong calendar of programming, and commissioned illustrator Shanée Benjamin to create art that celebrates the holiday across Sephora’s platforms.

Highlights include a video series called Belong, featuring portraits of Sephora’s Black employees clients and brand founders. Black creators will also be spotlighted and each Thursday Sephora’s Black-owned brands will be featured on the retailer’s Instagram feed through custom content and across all of its channels, during February and beyond.

Finally, the retail is hosting a Changemakers Roundtable on its Instagram, featuring Aurora James, founder of the 15 Percent Pledge; Dr. Rose Ingleton, founder of Rose Ingleton, MD skin care, and Chris Collins, founder of World of Chris Collins Fragrance, who will share more about the mark they’ve made in beauty.

Black founders are also the focus at Target, which has added an array of new Black-owned brands to its assortment, bringing its total to more than 70. Additionally, the retailer is expanding its partnerships with Black-owned businesses and HBCUs to co-create exclusive products across all categories, including apparel and accessories, home décor, toys and games, music, books and beauty. New beauty brands launching include Frederick Benjamin, a men’s grooming brand founded by Michael James, and Bomba Curls, the first Afro-Dominican hair care line at Target, created by Lulu Cordero.

Frederick Benjamin
Frederick Benjamin is a new men’s grooming line launching at Target this month. ALEX D ROGERS

P&G Beauty has several activations for the month, including an employee-led conference called “The Beauty of Black History,” designed to “educate, celebrate and inspire employees through the power of perseverance that Black history teaches,” said a spokesperson for the company.

Sally Beauty is partnering with Taraji P. Henson, whose TPH by Taraji hair care line is launching at the retailer this month. Henson will host a Founder x Founder Roundtable discussion on Feb. 22 on, talking to Black brand founders about their personal journeys, the ins and outs of starting a business and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Hum Nutrition has partnered with Kima Jones, founder of Jack Jones Literary Arts, for a 28-day journaling challenge. Jones has created four prompts, inspired by her favorite passages in Black literature, to inspire and stimulate reflection and growth.

Nyx Professional Makeup is rolling out a variety of initiatives to spotlight the Black creator community. The brand will launch the Ultimate Queen Collection, a new palette and trio of lip glosses with packaging by artist Kendra Dandy, and introduce a program called “Queens Celebrating Queens,” extending yearlong contracts to 10 Black creators to help deepen their representation in content Additionally, in partnership with Triller NYX is pledging 50 million views to 50 Black creators.

Elsewhere, the skin care brand Cocokind has donated 100 percent of its online profits for the first week of February to organizations fighting for mental wellness, trans rights, health care equity and more in the Black community, while the wellness ecommerce platform Pink Moon is donating 5 percent of every purchase to The Loveland Foundation, which connects Black women and girls to free therapy. Anecdote Candles and Prose have also teamed up on an exclusive candle — to be available only this month — with $5 from the sale of each to benefit Loveland. They have committed to a minimum donation of $5,000.