In the midst NYFW, a room full of Black beauty and fashion’s best and brightest came out to experience ORS Olive Oil’s “Styled, Gifted, and Glammed” VIP Style Salon and Gifting Suite. This invite-only event, in partnership with Hello Beautiful and Madame Noire, boasted a who’s who of media, celebs, bloggers, and digital personalities like Ty Hunter, Demetria McKinney, and Rob Morgan.
The ORS Glam Team provided dry styling and beauty makeovers courtesy of LAMIK Cosmetics in a special pop up salon area. Attendees were also gifted deluxe gold gift bags of the newly “refreshed” ORS Olive Oil line. This industry favorite now has new packaging and reformulated products.
Guests were also treated to an intimate performance by Neo-Soul husband and wife duo Kindred The Family Soul.
The highlight of the event was a special panel discussion on “Women of Color in Fashion & Beauty.” Moderated by author, lifestylist and branding coach Harriette Cole, panelists included Claire Sulmers, Founder & Editor in Chief of FashionBombDaily.com, legendary fashion activist Bethann Hardison, Vice President of iOneDigital Women’s Division (including HelloBeautiful.com and MadameNoire.com) Allison McGevna and Shawn Tollerson, CEO of Namaste Laboratories (Creators of ORS Olive Oil). An engaging and insightful conversation was had on the changing landscape of the fashion industry and representation of women of color in beauty and fashion. There were SO many gems dropped during the panel, but here are 5 major takeaways we got from the discussion.
The Fashion Industry Is Changing
All of the panelists commented how the fashion industry as we know it is changing and the need to adapt to the changing landscape. “Fashion is tanking,” stressed Bethann Hardison. With fashion coverage moving from print to heavily online, the audience was encouraged to be open to different opportunities and to be multi-dimensional in their approach. “The good news is that you can be seen and known through the internet, the bad news is that you can be seen and known because of the internet,” adds Hardison. So while the internet can be an invaluable resource, the audience was encouraged to use it wisely.
Create Your Own Opportunities
All of the panelists stressed the importance of not waiting for access and creating your own opportunities. The inspiration for Fashion Bomb Daily came from a lack of coverage and acknowledgment of people of color by fashion publications. “I couldn’t find a seat at the table so I made my own table,” says founder Claire Sulmers. After being denied opportunities in the US, Sulmers quite her job and moved to Paris to build the platform that is now the fashion powerhouse we know today.
“There should be no barriers to entry for lovers of fashion.” – Claire Sulmers
All of the panelists were women who have achieved great success and all attributed it to hard work. “Intelligence and drive is needed…find out who you are,” said Hardison. In the face of rejection and limited access, the panel stressed that the passion and love for what you do will keep you going.
If You Build It They Will Come
Vice President of iOne Digital’s Women’s Division Allison McGevna started her career as a plus-size model and shared her struggles of being repeatedly told no by agents due to not being a “traditional” plus-size model. The multi-talented McGevna was also simultaneously building her media career. “I didn’t know how to put myself forward as a model and also as a journalist,” says Allison. By taking her career in her own hands and building a large online following, she was able to book major modeling campaigns, peaking the interest of agents. Attendees were encouraged to build their online presence in order to attract and create the opportunities they want.
There is Nothing New Under the Sun
CEO of Namaste Labs Shawn Tollerson reminded the room that “everything is cyclical” and “we have to know our history” when it comes to black hair. “This is not new. It is coming back in a strong way…it is our time,” Tollerson adds. Hairstyles that were favorites 30 or 40 years are popular again and ORS Olive Oil is committed to creating products that help everyone explore and experiment with their hair. Harriette shared that her teenage daughter is now her own hair journey to discover what works for her hair and thanks to the wide range of products now available “it makes it possible for us to claim our beauty in whatever way we want to.”
In 2018 we are still underrepresented in these spaces, which is why many of the panelists have dedicated their careers to providing opportunities for women of color. While Sulmers admitted that her platform started off Black and has since moved to include everyone, McGevna was adamant about having a space for Black women by Black women on the internet, “On Hello Beautiful and Madame Noire – we highlight Black women first.” Bethann Hardison was a groundbreaking model in her day who then went on to found an agency responsible for discovering Naomi Campbell and Tyson Beckford. Shaun Tollerson spoke to the struggles of being on the corporate side of beauty and fighting for the correct type of representation. “You have to be able to say no it’s not like that, what you’re presenting is not real. I live it, I know it.”
Kudos to ORS for an exciting and informative event! To see more of the event follow the official hashtags #ORSREFRESH and #ORSNYFW.