Shades of Beauty Live An Open Letter to Black Women:
Forget the Seat! Let’s Build a Table
Dear Black Woman,
I hear you…
As a black woman who has spent most of my adult life working in a corporate environment, I know first-hand that it can be seriously hard out here. For the most part, even when we work smarter and harder than our colleagues, we’re often unfairly limited by who we are as opposed to what we’re capable of doing. Over the years I have been told that I’m either “too aggressive” for having a solution-based opinion, or that I’m not business competent – oh, and there’s the classic case of being pigeonholed as management/team leader, but not quite good enough to make it to director level.
I can’t recall the number of times I’ve been left to feel isolated from group banter, and even opportunities, for not attending every social event owing to the fact that I have a young family (not that I like going to pubs much anyway…I’m definitely more of a wine bar kind of girl.
(*flicks weave, sips champagne*)
But on a serious note, when I actually observe those who have presented me with this narrative, one thing is obvious – they look nothing like me. Whilst they were judging my book cover, they didn’t know half my story. They didn’t know that I had a built a successful property business portfolio with my sister and have managed multiple tenants whilst simultaneously working full-time, and managing a household. I knew what the problem was but just didn’t want to admit it to myself as a part of me still believed we lived in a fair and democratic society. As the ‘problem’ stared back at me daily in the mirror, it became clear that I didn’t fit the status quo.
There I was, in my oblivious state, walking into their environment, asking for acceptance and to be given what I knew I deserved – a seat at the table, only to be turned down, ignored or overlooked. Then, *ping!* I had a light bulb moment. It finally dawned on me that I needed to create my own space. Spaces where women like me wouldn’t be penalised for not going to work drinks or being chummy with middle management.
*That space came to light as Shades of Beauty Live.*
An event for women of colour founded by myself and my sister Grace. It’s organised by a small, committed team, full of passion and big goals. Our values are driven by a desire to extend the idea of sisterhood beyond us as siblings working together. We enable more collaboration and partnerships between black women in business. We are not only looking to grow successful events for the community. But we are determined to cultivate healthy working environments where women, especially black women. Not only have a seat at the (boardroom) table – but we own the damn table! Let’s be honest, we all know that black women are the innovators of most things stylish, creative and cool. Whether it’s hair, fashion or style itself – we don’t follow trends, we set them!
Despite being a community of trendsetters – not to mention the biggest spenders (black women spend six times more on hair products than any other group). You’ll rarely see us being truly represented or valued by the beauty industry as a whole. Unless, of course, your name’s Rihanna! During our short time organising Shades of Beauty Live, we have approached many mainstream brands on the high street only to be told outright that they don’t (and won’t) invest in experiential marketing campaigns targeted to this [women of colour] demographic – but happy to take our money as consumers, right?! Sigh.
Ladies, it’s time for a new narrative. Not as in something we talk about on WhatsApp or like on social media. But something tangible where we create what we really want. A solid foundation of our own. A table where we all have a seat, can all eat and pass on to our families for generations to come. It starts here.
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Hope you’ll join us!
Hair Popp visitors can get 25% off by using discount code ‘Hairpopp25’ – see you there.
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