Updated: April 5
The multibillion-dollar influencer industry must diversify to ensure equity among influencers of all races.
Racism manifests in a variety of ways within the industry — among them are pay disparity, tokenism and bias. In light of the global antiracism movement, some influencer agencies have rethought their practices: Fohr established a Diversity Advisory Board and MagicLinks’ diversity, equity and inclusion team recently implemented a 30 percent minimum requirement for racial diversity of talent in all campaigns.
As brands consider how to promote greater diversity through their activations, WWD is highlighting influencer agencies that are owned by people of color.
Influencer management and public relations company The Hyphen8 was founded by fashion and beauty p.r. veteran Taj Alwan. The agency works with talent such as Salem Mitchell, Devon Lee and Sydney Carlson and Chad Douglas, as well as luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Versace, Burberry, Prada and Dior Beauty.
Formerly known as God & Beauty, G&B is an influencer agency founded and owned by Kyle Hjelmeseth in 2015. The company counts more than 80 clients and has reached nearly $4 million in profits since it was founded. Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, cofounder of well-known influencer agency Digital Brand Architects, joined G&B’s advisory board in November.
Pamela Zapata is a former talent and marketing executive who has worked with a number of beauty brands in The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc portfolio. She is the founder and CEO of bicoastal consulting agency Society Eighteen. Since its founding two years ago, the agency has focused largely on multicultural influencers and has run more than 250 campaigns.
NYCXSTUDIO is a newly formed consulting agency founded by sisters Shelcy and Christy Joseph, known as @nycxclothes on Instagram. The sisters, who have professional backgrounds in both editorial and digital marketing, aim to “humanize” influencer marketing, they said, by helping brands with content creation, content strategy, influencer casting, diversity and inclusion consulting and social media strategy.
Estate Five is a talent management agency cofounded in 2017 by Suzanne Droese, Lynsey Eaton and Tina Craig, the influencer known online as @bagsnob and founder of U Beauty. The agency currently works with 54 influencers, such as Diet Prada, Erica Choi and Micaela Erlanger.
Prior to launching her eponymous consulting agency, Candace Marie Stewart ran social media for Barneys New York and Prada Group. She is a part-time lecturer at Parsons School of Design, where she teaches about communication and social media. In 2020, she founded Black in Corporate, an online resource for Black individuals in corporate jobs.
Kensington Grey Agency
Kensington Grey Agency is a boutique firm that has worked with brands like J. Crew, Ikea, DSW and Sephora. Cofounded by Shannae Ingleton Smith, the agency represents influencers with a variety of followings and works with brands on influencer marketing, casting, talent strategy and campaign management.
2 Black Girls
2 Black Girls Consulting was founded by editor-influencers Chrissy Rutherford, a contributing editor at Bazaar.com, and Danielle Prescod, formerly BET.com’s style director, in June 2020. 2BG Consulting currently offers an antiracism seminar, held online.
Black Girl Digital
Black Girl Digital is an agency that counts more than 500 Black women creators in its influencer network. Founded by LaToya Shambo, the agency has worked with Ritual Vitamins, Brooklinen and Viacom-owned brands such as VH1, MTV and BET. Black Girl Digital launched iLINKR, an influencer platform that matches brands with Black women creators, in 2020.
Ernest B. James, an alum of LaForce and APA PR, founded Noire Management, an influencer and marketing agency focusing on multicultural influencers, in 2018. James joined the diversity advisory board of Fohr, an influencer agency founded by James Nord that was accused in 2020 of discriminating against Black creators.
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