Ulta throws weight behind black voices in beauty

By Becky Bargh | 22-Sep-2021

Muse 100 programme recognises members of cosmetics industry for contribution to inclusivity in beauty

Ulta Beauty, the US’ largest beauty retailer, is celebrating black voices in beauty with its Muse 100 grant programme.

The 100 figures have been selected by the Ulta team for their contribution to the beauty industry, and will be awarded US$10,000 to continue their cause.

Among those selected are make-up artists, content creators, mental wellness activists, journalists and hairstylists.

Names from the biggest beauty groups have also been tapped for the grant.

Susan Akkas, SVP of Local & Cultural Innovation at Estée Lauder Companies; Erica Culpepper, L’Oréal’s General Manager; EVP and COO of Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever, Esi Eggleston Bracey; and Aja Robinson, Fenty’s Global Sales Director, have all been recognised as part of the Muse 100 scheme.

Speaking about the scheme, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ulta’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisor, and founder of Pattern Beauty, said: “I’m excited and consistently encouraged by Ulta Beauty’s continued commitments.

“The Muse 100 demonstrates a significant evolution of Ulta Beauty’s mission to uplift black voices.

“By shining a light on these inspiring changemakers, we empower black communities and continue the important work of fostering foundational change.”

Ulta’s new mission is an extension of the retailer’s $25m investment to improve diversity, equality and inclusion across beauty, announced in February this year.

“We understand our responsibility to inspire positive change and drive greater diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry,” Dave Kimbell, CEO of Ulta, added.

“The Muse 100 champions those who have succeeded in making so much beauty possible, those who represent the future and those who have inspiring stories that deserve to be shared and supported.

“We are proud to honor and uplift these 100 Muses and hope others find inspiration in learning their stories while celebrating with us.”

Diversity drive

Since the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, beauty brands and retailers have been quick to shine a spotlight on the needs for diversity in the industry.

Earlier this month, AS Watson-owned retailer Superdrug announced four new black-owned beauty hair care brands would be hitting its shelves in an attempt to diversify its product offering.

Last week, skin care brand Olay partnered with Algorithmic Justice League for its #DecodetheBias campaign, which aims to influence coders to be more diverse when creating algorithms.

Code is often built as a reflection of the creator, and includes social media filters, apps and search engines, and are often leaving women of colour excluded, according to the brand.

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