It's no secret that fashion is one of the most problematic industries in America. At the start of June, there was a wave of challenges issued to boardrooms across the world to diversify their companies from the ground up. After the incredible turnout for Blackout Tuesday, the momentum for black lives seemed to dwindle. Unfortunately, the accountability and ally-ship previously preached seems like a memory of years past.
Equality, at all levels and across all industries, is something that needs to be done more often. It's a dance we have to keep participating in and perfecting as we go. The momentum has been surrounded around black joy, not the loss of black lives. While the trends fade, the real work does not. Here are three initiatives that are determined to change the space of fashion for black people.
Founded by Aurora James of Brother Vellies, this pledge was created to continue the conversation about the black community and the black dollar. Black people make up, roughly, 15% of the population; the pledge calls to replicate that on the shelves of major retailers.
There's a difference between a black business and a black-owned business. A black-owned business puts the profits directly back into the black family; a business geared towards black people, not so much. The profit of the black dollar has to stop without the participation of black people. The black community is constantly discarded, even though black culture stimulates the American economy. With the 15% pledge, this directly impacts the black families across the country at a substantial level.
So far, juggernaut companies like West Elm, Rent The Runway, and Sephora have committed to the pledge. There's still work to do, though, as a lot of retailers haven't accepted the challenge.
You can sign the pledge here and you can see what other retailers have taken the pledge.
The Kelly Initiative
It seems archaic but sometimes, it all starts with a letter. The Kelly Initiative started with a letter to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA) from around 250 fashion professionals, accusing the organization of permitting "exploitative cultures of prejudice, tokenism, and employment discrimination to thrive." The letter belabors the point of inclusivity, how the black community will no longer be complacent, and a challenge to CDFA to transform their ways. It called for further action to help ensure industry transparency, accountability, and inclusivity at all levels. Signees include fashion historian Shelby Ivey Christie, celebrity stylists Ty Hunter and Jason Bolden, and Cosmopolitan editor Julee Wilson.
The Kelly Initiative is named in honor of Patrick Kelly, a Black designer and first American to be admitted into the Chamber Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter in 1988. The initiative will also curate an annual report, The Kelly List; a list of 50 Black professionals that epitomize "top-tier talent" in the industry. While the CFDA released its own statement regarding the lack of diversity within the organization and the industry as a whole, The Kelly Initiative called these steps "insufficient". The letter challenges the CFDA to do more and ended by saying:
"From tailoring bodices to merchandising e-boutiques, from convening brand-summits to boldly helming boardrooms, never again will it be questioned; WE MATTER. #BlackLivesMatter."
The Black in Fashion Council
Founded by Teen Vogue EIC Lindsay Peoples Wagner and public relations specialist Sandrine Charles, The Black Fashion Council's mission is the advancement of black people, specifically in the fashion and beauty spaces. With over 400 professionals across the different verticals of the industry, this initiative operates similarly to Pull Up or Shut Up. By partnering with the Human Rights Campaigns, the council will create an equality index score to benchmark and release an annual report card for corporations that have signed the three-year commitment pledge.
"The Human Rights Campaign already has a Corporate Equality Index for people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community that companies like Kering are already a part of," Peoples Wagner says. "This would be a way to continue to give companies a report card of accountability without them feeling like they're being shamed into it, and giving them the actual resources of what people are saying they want to see changed."
Companies can sign the pledge here.
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Courtney is a contributing writer, based in Puerto Rico by way of Tennessee. Interested in the intersection of fashion and culture, she has an affinity for fashion, empowerment, and really good tacos. Keep up with her on Instagram (@hautecourtxo).
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Viola Davis On Beauty Standards Changing In Hollywood: 'We Are Beyond Male Desirability'
Actress Viola Davis is shedding light on beauty standards and how it has transformed throughout the years.
The 57-year-old has touched on this topic numerous times throughout her career, which spans over three decades. In the past, Davis revealed that she felt inadequate because of her physical appearance due to constantly being told she wasn't beautiful or enough.
Since then, the EGOT winner has overcome those insecurities and used her platform to share a positive message to those who need them. In a recent interview withPEOPLE magazine while attending the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, Davis shared that the shift is because many now know that beauty is "beyond male desirability."
Viola On Beauty Standards
During the discussion, the How To Get Away with Murder star also mentioned that another factor contributing to the transformation is that people associate beauty with mental health, which she claimed inspired her partnership with makeup brand L'Oreal.
"I think beauty standards have changed. I think that what's shifted is that whole idea of mental health being associated with beauty [and] of understanding who we are beyond male desirability. It's really a huge part of why I decided to become a part of L'Oreal, that whole statement of 'I'm worth it,'" she said.
Further in the interview, Davis recounted her past experiences of being told she wasn't beautiful and mentioned how it destroyed her because, growing up, she knew that beauty was tied to worthiness.
"What destroyed me was people constantly telling me that I was not beautiful. [You might think] why would you be upset with that? Because beauty is attached with worth and value. And I refuse to believe that I'm not worth it just based on a sort of idea and perception of what people think classical beauty is," she stated.
The Woman King star added that since the shift in beauty standards, women are now being "encouraged to speak their truth a little bit more" in certain situations such as one's goals, sexual assault, mental illness, etc. With that, Davis explained that people are now seeing the beauty within others and applauding them for it.
"Now women are encouraged to speak their truth a little bit more. We see that with sexual assault, with mental illness, with being burnt-out mamas, with following our dreams and our hopes that we have for our lives," she said.
"Back in the day, we hid our pain behind perfectly applied lipstick and wax floors. Now we don't do that anymore. We're saying this is who we are, beyond the makeup and the hair. I see that. I see that with my daughter's generation."
Viola On The Message She Shares With Her Daughter
As the conversation shifted to the advice Davis gives her teenage daughter Genesis Tennon --whom she with her husband, Julius Tennon-- when it comes to beauty, the star disclosed that she motivates Tennon to become the "love" of her own life.
Davis said she shared these sentiments because she wants Tennon to advocate for herself in various situations when others disappoint her and cross her boundaries.
"I told my daughter this morning that she has to have a love affair with herself. That she is indeed the love of her life. I said, 'I love you, but it's not me, it's not some boy. At the end of the day, you can't disappoint yourself. You have to advocate for yourself," she stated. "You have to show up for her.' And it's not just spa treatments and a glass of wine. It's in showing up when someone hurts you. Creating boundaries and when someone crosses it."
Davis wrapped up her remarks by saying she spread positive messages like this to Tennon and the world because she was not "taught" that loving oneself meant being one's supporter.
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