by Emeline Nsingi Nkosi
A Cosmetic Scientist, Founder of Cherry Coco (a natural skincare company) and Black Beauty Communications ltd. Cheryl Jumbo, one of six children, was born in Glasgow to Nigerian parents. She recently announced the UK’s first ever beauty industry awards event for Black Beauty products aptly named the “Black Beauty and Fashion Awards”.
We spoke about her experience in the beauty industry, BBFA and what she plans on achieving …
“Black Beauty and Fashion Awards is a movement, I am set on advancing the industry.”
Today I am someone who loves business and empowering people; I think it’s important to leave a legacy. I find much satisfaction in supporting individuals in pursuing their dreams; I believe you can accomplish anything you commit yourself to!
My entry point to the beauty arena was most unexpected, around the age of 19, I had intended on purchasing a premium foundation from a company called fashion (there wasn’t much else available), whilst I was browsing I was approached by one of the beauty consultants. We started talking, she enquired about my skincare regime, my interests and asked me what I was doing for a living. I explained that I was studying to become a Sound Engineer. She scoffed lightly and said “no no no my darling, YOU belong in the world of beauty. I can see you now with your silver Hitachi case going to a business meeting”.
As a student of sound engineering, I was the only female in my class, which I didn’t mind much at all. I needed a part time job so I decided I’d explore a little, I sought employment with a cosmetics consultant agency to find out more about the world of beauty.
I had assumed it would be very superficial but being creative and technical I excelled. As I began to consult and sell cosmetic products to consumers, I yearned to understand why people were buying from me besides my selling technique. What was so good about these products? What made them so effective? Were they truly beneficial at all? I wanted to learn the science behind these amazing pots of promise.
Fortunately, around that time The London College of Fashion, had recently introduced to the UK a new BSc (Hons) Cosmetic Science, I secured a place and eventually, proudly graduated whilst maintaining employment throughout my studies.
Since then, I have gained a broad experience of the industry, working in various capacities from setting up a beauty business, working as an expat in Africa, providing skincare workshops, brand development, consulting, working in regulatory affairs at QVC UK, product design and formulation of skin care at E.C Dewitt and Manufacturing at Barry M Cosmetics.
In the UK, I have found myself working in places where I am the only black person in the entire organisation. This has presented some great advantages and in some cases disadvantages, I am keen to see more of us in this arena, our contribution is necessary in a multicultural society.
Sadly, BBFA was born from a feeling of social exclusion. Every single year, we have beauty industry awards that celebrate the great product offerings available from various brands across the UK and further afield. This is great until you realise that none of the products spot-lit with adulation cater to your needs. One particular year as my colleagues and I geared up to attend the latest installment of beauty awards, I pondered on this fact; I have contributed hugely to the UK economy via my hair and beauty needs and wants. I pondered on the fact that at age 19 my only choice of foundation was an expensive premium product, which as a student cost me a small fortune.
I decided that I would become the change that I wished to see. It was at that moment, 6 years ago, that I knew I would create the Black Beauty and Fashion Awards! It would be a celebration of diverse black beauty and culture. However, it would have been seen as too Afrocentric, and so I decided to wait until the right time, which is NOW!
Our event is divided into two halves, firstly, the public voting poll which lasts approximately 4 months from March 2017, followed by the corporate end which takes place later in November.
BBFA seeks to empower BMR* consumers’ voices to express their passion for the products they enjoy using or want to support, and exercise their unassailable right to inclusion. Black males are for the most part ignored in advertising of grooming products. Women of colour spend on average, six times more than their counterparts on hair and beauty products. It is about time to acknowledge this significant contribution to the economy.
Advancement is taking place within the industry concerning black beauty, hair and fashion and it must be acknowledged. There’s a great range of products available for BMR people, but a ‘disconnect’ exists between brands, retailers and consumers. Often people can’t find what they want, although it exists…somewhere.
BBFA seeks to promote, encourage and celebrate producers of high-quality BMR products and build bridges to prompt greater inclusion via mainstream channels. This is all towards bringing about the growth that our communities will also benefit from.
My dream is to see Black Beauty and Fashion Award-winning products made available to the public in mainstream stores across the UK
My vision is to celebrate the diverse beauty and see greater representation in mainstream media. To acknowledge the brands that have over the years, diligently catered to our ever-changing beauty needs. To support entrepreneurialism. In a multicultural society, I would like to see more BMR individuals as manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and being part of the supply chain of this industry. After all, we are the ones using the products! It would be great to have a hand in what’s being added to these products created to care for our unique beauty.
My mission is to advance the beauty industry, impacting it positively. To celebrate the diversity of black hair and skin and our beautiful culture. To make BBFA a global entity as we expand our Industry award to the Continent and the Caribbean.
All winning products and brands have the right to carry the BBFA winners’ seal created to be displayed on company websites, marketing literature, and products, visible to consumers at the point of sale.
BBFA is the people’s choice award! We are here to elevate to empower the voice of consumers, to alleviate social exclusion and to carve out a space for our beauty products in mainstream outlets. We hope to see Black Beauty and Fashion Award-winning products available online and in high street stores.
Black Beauty Communications’ BBFA has amongst its aims, to be the go-to marketing and quality assessment vehicle to help both lesser-known and readily recognisable businesses gain greater brand awareness within Black and Multiracial client groups. In so doing, a more mutually beneficial exchange emerges, wherein BMR people, with a predicted £100 million 2016 hair and beauty spend, shall notice better representation in mainstream channels. This leads to greater opportunities in employment. Brand loyalty, improved market segmentation and CSR fulfillment are just some of the elements available to participating businesses at the other end of the exchange.
Yes, indeed they should be. So many elements of our culture are used and adopted in the mainstream, from our hairstyles and fashion to music and dance. I believe our ingenuity, success, creativity and innovation need to be acknowledged mainstream also. It’s a known fact that we tend to be products of our environment, witnessing achievements mainstream provides aspiration for peers and following generations.
To some extent yes. I believe that these organisations have missed a trick when it comes to black beauty and fashion. For decades black and multiracial individuals have engaged these brands frequently only to feel a sense of exclusion and being overlooked. Perhaps their lack of offering comes from a lack of understanding of our hair and authentic beauty.
The inaugural Black Beauty and Fashion Awards is a Red carpet affair. it will be a stupendous night of beauty and style on Friday 3rd November 2017. The venue of choice is the beautiful Porchester Hall; I adore its classic art deco design. Amongst others, in attendance will be manufacturers, retailers, entrepreneurs and industry professionals. The evening will include a fashion show, 3-course elegant dining experience, live entertainment, award ceremony, charity auction for Lupus and Alopecia UK and much more.
There will be various voting categories, such as Best shampoo, Best hair treatment, Best Foundation etc and we have a number of special awards including Beauty entrepreneur of the year, Fashion entrepreneur of the year, Best new business venture, Best new beauty tool/appliance as well as honour an amazing individual with a Lifetime Achievement award for their Contribution to the Beauty and Fashion industry.
Voting is easy. Simply visit www.bbfawards.com/voting-online. All voters are automatically entered into the BBFA cash prize draw and the opportunity to win some amazing goodies. Prize winners will be selected randomly and announced via our social media platforms later in the year.
[BMR* – Cherry’s own acronym , Black Multi-Racial]
Nia Pettitt is a force to be reckoned with. At the tender age of nineteen, the half-English, half-Zimbabwean model has built an online community of young women who share her passion for honouring and embracing the beauty of natural Afro hair. Her fans are spread across the world, united by a shared celebration of natural beauty and a mutual adoration of Nia’s own golden mane. As FroGirlGinny, she shares tales of her adventures and hair care tips to over 330,000 Instagram followers, part of a growing movement inspiring a generation of young brown girls to defy Western beauty standards and nurture their natural Afros. I met her at the Lisbon leg of her ‘Go With the Fro Tour,’ a joint venture with fellow model and social media influencer Lauren Lewis that gives women with natural hair a chance to come together and share stories of their own natural hair trials and triumphs.
I’m a Gemini, so I’m everything, but I like to be known as Nia.
From 3 to 11 I relaxed my hair, but I didn’t do that out of seeing pictures in magazines, I just did it because my mum couldn’t handle my hair. I grew up in a white area of London, so my idea of beauty was blonde hair, blue eyes, like my best friend in Primary School at the time. Then, when I went to Secondary School, there was a girl with curly hair there and I idolised her, and I just wanted to have hair like her. I didn’t really have the traditional girl in the magazines as who I wanted to be, I was more wanting to be myself, but I couldn’t because of where I lived, and being mixed race was hard because a part of me wanted to be English and have roast dinners and the other part of me wanted to be Zimbabwean and have sadza, so I had a kind of identity crisis because I didn’t know who I wanted to be.
It was seeing that girl, her name’s Yasmin, seeing her curly hair, and then seeing a picture of myself when I was three. I had this Afro, and I was like, “Mum, why doesn’t my hair do this anymore?” and she said if I wanted it I had to big chop my hair, so I just did it the next day, cut off all my relaxed hair.
No,I didn’t at all.
At first, everyone in school highlighted that they liked my straight hair more, but I’ve always been a person who doesn’t depend on anyone to love me besides myself so that just sparked the journey for me of being my own woman and growing up a lot quicker than most 11-year-olds. But I was also concerned about what the hell I was going to use. I was buying mousses from Superdrug and conditioners from Tesco and I didn’t know what to use.
I think we still have a long way to go, and I feel like I’ve been able to impact change in my small way, but I want to concentrate on deeper issues for women. When I big chopped my hair, it started the journey of self-love, and I want to go into more of that than just giving hair tips. I feel like there’s more to me than just hair.
I don’t think it did. I mean, we had Scary Spice, but her name alone, Scary, doesn’t connote anything pretty. We had Alicia Keys, but she was braided most of the time, we had Chaka Khan and Diana Ross, but mostly they weren’t in my era. It was mostly Scary Spice for me, that was all I had at the time.
I think Hilary Banks, but she obviously had perm rods and flat irons, but I loved her style.
I always try to be humble because if the Internet broke down, I would still be who I am today. I try not to let it all get to me because it could be taken away at any moment, so I just want to inspire people to live their lives to the fullest and travel more, and also to let young people know that the situation they’re in now is not forever. We have so much ahead of us. I mean, it feels nice, but I try not to let it get to me.
It was honestly really natural. I just started posting pictures and it grew. I do enjoy it, the only thing I don’t enjoy is when my Gemini mind wants me to capture everything and the other half is saying enjoy the moment, so it’s about finding a balance between the two.
Me and Lauren met through Instagram and we wanted to do something together, and just came up with Go With The Fro, and it just grew from there. It’s been a year now and we’ve got 40,000 followers, and we’ve travelled around Europe, we’re going to Africa on Saturday, so it’s taken off so quickly.
Every time I meet these women, it’s so fun for me because some of them have never been to a natural hair event, so they leave with this new energy to connect with other women and love themselves more. I love those aspects.
You’ll have to wait and see…
I just want to travel more, tan more, and my hair to get bigger!
Skimdo Curl Cream. It’s amazing.
Follow FroGirlGinny on instagram
Emma Dabiri is a Teaching Fellow at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London. She’s written for ThandieKay in the past on race representation in beauty and we’re delighted to have her contribute her thoughts again, this time on the necessity of afro hair. Over to Emma….
Society commends itself on being progressive, multicultural and diverse. We are told that we are equal, that we are lucky to live in this century, in such a tolerant environment, with access to these privileges.
When we try to interject this narrative with the realities of our lived experience, to articulate the challenges and complexities of navigating society in the body of a black woman; the varying degrees of injustice, violence, pain and disrespect that we are subjected to, often for no reason beyond the fact that we are black women, we are frequently met with resistance that spills over into venom.
Discussions about Afro hair provide a reminder of the constraints placed on our bodies, in this age of alleged equality. The fact that having the audacity to wear your hair as it grows from your head remains a politicized act.
Despite the presence of a number of highly visible black women, from Michelle Obama to Beyoncé, some (people) remain shocked when faced with the reality of what most black women’s hair actually looks like (when it is not chemically straightened or hidden under a weave).
We (still) face stricture and censure in the education system and many professional settings, if we are so bold as to imagine that society might accept us looking like ourselves, rather than insisting we make ourselves into imitations of others. Many of the icons we can readily recall who have sported Afros were revolutionaries.
Increasingly this is changing, but progress is slow. Even within the natural hair movement, the beauty ideal is not set by the fully picked out ‘fro. A more palatable, ‘mixed-race’ curl – rather than the resplendent Afro in all its Africaness, remains what many aspire to. That’s right I said it, AFRICAN.
So go on, seize your Africaness. Get intimate with it, make yourself comfortable in it, never ever underestimate the beauty of our hair. For it is ours and ours alone, and surely like most things that are rare, is it too not exceptionally precious?
The future is bright for women of colour, especially for those with a little business nous.
WoC are officially the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. with an unprecedented 322% rise black women-owned businesses all in less than 20 years..
We feel like proud Aunties introducing Nineteen-year-old Kayla Davis and her 21-year-old sister, Keonna, owners of KD Haircare Supply in Moreno Valley, California (ranked one of the toughest cities in the U.S. to find employment).
They were both out of work and one day their mother said: ‘Stop stressing about it and begging these people for a job and create your own business”. Spurred on by Mama, they used money saved from their online beauty supply business and their part-time jobs to create a business with a little cash matched by their parents. Being aware of the lack of beauty supply store owners who looked like them, the sisters had a goal to service natural hair and weave hair customers.
They opened in March 2016.
We grew up in our Hometown of Moreno Valley, CA and we are still currently living here. And yes, we did grow up in a very diverse environment, we have a huge, diverse family from both sides!
We Mostly enjoyed Watching Disney films, and watching Cartoons on channels such as (cartoon network, Disney channel, and Nickelodeon). Kayla: I enjoyed Sister, Sister, The Proud Family and reading The Coldest Winter Ever. Keonna :I just loved animation all around, I enjoyed Anime as a kid reading The Magic tree house Series.
Our mom is our inspiration, seeing her push so hard for us to be the best we can be and backing up our decisions and choices. Moreover just showing us endless love and support. Also the community is what inspires us and pushes us to be great.
Keonna: I wanted to work on animated films or cartoons. Kayla: I wanted to be an ultrasound technician. However, we then decided to work on our business first then work on our hobbies and interests later.
We are so young taking on this role as business owners some people thought we were joking and didn’t think we were serious, so yes to the first question. But there were some advantages because our community took us as role models and supported us through thick and thin. So we appreciate our community, family, and friends for supporting us.
Well, in our city most of the Women of Color shopped at other beauty supply stores in the area. Some even travelled all the way to L.A (which is an hour away) to get certain stuff that the stores out here didn’t have.
The media buzz around us is so crazy, like we get spotted out in public and asked if we can take photos with them. It’s shocking each time it happens to us.
Our days usually consist of, working at our shop 24/7. Regardless if we’re at the shop or not, we are still working towards our shop. Even if it’s our off days we are still working. But we still manage to have fun after work, or just relax.
We usually go for Shea Moisture, Crème of Nature, Cantu, and The Roots. Keonna: I cant live without African Black Shampoo from Shea Moisture.
What we both do is listen to music mostly. It helps us relax and un-wind after a long day of work.
The KD Spirit is, being you regardless of how others may feel about it.
Our hope is to possibly open up many stores around the country showcasing that young people can also become business owners, or whatever they want to be.
Keonna: I would like to be an artist, and travel to different countries around the world. Kayla: I would like to travel as well, and also expand our business.
We know Afro and curly hair can be scarily brittle and needs a lot more TLC so we were curious to know how she manages to bleach and dye it without breakage. ..
‘ElvineOhlala’ shares a few of her haircare secrets and more…
I am originally from Gabon, my both parents are Gabonese. In my country people used to wear colorful clothes. I love the colour of African patterns. I think my love of color comes from my origins.
When I was younger, I didn’t like my hair and I used a relaxer to straighten it. Cut to the age of 18 with my next hair-changing phase, when a true hair-disaster happened and I lost my hair. My best friend was a apprentice hairdresser, and one day she made a mistake (you can see where this is going..) when she dyed my hair. A few weeks later she used a relaxer on top of the dying because of those curls that ‘I hated’.
The upside is that I now understand how to ensure I do not break my hair, while having the freedom to express myself by colouring it. These are my steps and the products I use to ensure my hair stays in well-conditioned shape.
Elvine and her favourites!
Mizani Supreme Oil Mask – nourishing treatment to boost shine and manageability.
Mizani True Textures Moisture Stretch or Mizani 25 Miracle Milk – reduces dryness and adds softness.
Adds shine and helps to give a perfect curl.
This definitely helps to improve the quality of relaxed hair.
Elasta QP Feels Like Silk Styling Gel – creates waves and generally styles and controls my frizz.
I first started my YouTube channel because a lot of people were asking me for advice and hair care tips, after seeing my hair. I love helping people out. So many people don’t trust themselves so I want to push them and try to help them do what they want to do. Whether it’s wear their hair a new colour or wear a colourful outfit.
My favourite vintage and secondhand shop in London in TRAID; I can always find a beautiful bargain in there. I also like Dotty Theresa Vintage where you can find fabulous clothes with good quality.
Follow Elvine on Instagram: @elvineohlala
Watch her on YouTube
Check out her blog: www.elvineohlala.com