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]
Post by Kay and Rose
While en route to a shoot for EX1 Cosmetics yesterday with ‘Our Girl Friday’ Rose Miyonga, she turned to me and said “I’ve never really worn foundation.”
She went on to say, “As a mixed race teenage girl growing up in white, rural England, there wasn’t really much on offer when I first wanted to wear make-up. It was pretty much Superdrug. There was nothing for my sisters and me in the beauty department.”
Sound familiar? This is echoed by so many women and we all wonder- when is this going to change?
When friends came to visit from London, they would bring gifts for my Mum in the form of shampoos and conditioners from Afro Hair/Beauty Supply Stores to help her manage our hair, so different from her straight, blonde bob.
Suffice it to say, it was not a good look, and once I realised that, I decided it was better to just go barefaced.
EX1 Cosmetics is part of the shifting landscape of skincare and beauty products emerging to provide quality cosmetics that a wider spectrum of women can enjoy. It specialises in foundations and concealers for brown and olive skintones
Around my teenage years, mostly driven by my own insecurities. I desperately wanted to cover my blemishes and it was then that I realised that the mainstream self selection cosmetics industry didn’t seem relevant to me.
EX1 is dedicated to women with yellow/golden undertones to their skin. Although premium lines existed for women with my skin tone, I wanted to create the first affordable line of cosmetics exclusively for women with olive skin, yet which has all the hallmarks of a luxury brand in terms of formula quality.
Our pigments. As a biochemist, I started looking carefully at olive skin tones, creating a unique blend of pigments designed to mimic the natural pigments found in olive complexions.
When I created the line I could have never imagined the products would be worn by some of the world’s most iconic celebrities or that we’d get such great press reviews. But the real highlight will always be the heartfelt messages we get from every day women who have previously struggled to find an affordable foundation that perfectly matches their skin tone. I was that woman, and getting such incredible feedback from the very people I created the products for makes it all worthwhile.
Post by Thandie
This literally home-grown brand has been on the scene for EVAH. After working with sweet Will Smith on ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, he and Jada sent me a basket of Carol’s Daughter products as a birthday gift. I still remember opening the box, and swooning at the release of rich, deep, sweet smells. Now, years later I’m reminded of Carol’s Daughter as Westworld’s (the HBO drama I’m currently filming) hair chief Joy Zapata sent me home with the Hair Milk plus a pot of the Marula Oil mask.
A combination of still nursing my 2 year old, and a lot of shooting, has left my hair in a sorry state. So, Carol’s Daughter (aka founder Lisa Price) has come to the rescue. And I’m loving it.
We’re proud to welcome Lisa to ThandieKay again (see our post on my favourite Carol’s Daughter hair products here), this time for our beauty Q+A!
I have two. One is the softness of my mother’s cheek. I always remember her skin being very soft. I remember when I was old enough to play in the medicine cabinet and I discovered her Oil of Olay Cleansing Lotion and her Pond’s Cold Cream. I assumed that these two items must have been the course of that softness.
My mother was such a minimalist when it came to beauty that the fact that she had two items for her face, made an impression on me, even as a child.
Even though I use my own Face Butter, I still keep a jar of Pond’s in my bathroom, just so that I can relive that feeling of Mommy’s face. Her cheek against mine.
She wore it for church, only on Sundays. I thought it was the most amazing thing I ever smelled ever and couldn’t understand why she didn’t wear it every single day.
My husband smiles at me. When he hugs me and nuzzles my neck and says, “ Hmmm, you smell so good. What is that?” That is something he said on our first date and even when he knows today, what it is, he still asks because he knows how much that resonated with me back then.
People that I find beautiful I feel that society may also find beautiful but I see beyond the physical aspects of their beauty and look at their confidence, their swagger and their authenticity.
Women – Lupita Nyong’o, Debbie Allen, Helen Mirren, Lauren Bacall, Beyoncé, Amandla Stenberg, Thandie Newton (not pandering to the editor here, this is true), Sophia Loren, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama. I could list more.
Men – Idris Elba, Cary Grant, Michael Ealy, Michael Fassbender, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Prince, Rob Lowe, Eric Benet, and Don Cheadle.
My mom cleaned her face, most of the time with soap and occasionally with Oil of Olay, back when it was one product. A cleansing lotion that came in a glass bottle. She moisturized with Pond’s Cold Cream and my mother very rarely wore makeup. I remember her bottle of foundation being in the medicine cabinet forever. This was long before we had magazines telling us that our makeup spoiled. Mommy also had one blush, mascara, and a nude coral lipstick. That was it. She had freckles on her face and never covered them. It is safe for me to say that she probably wore makeup about 6 times a year.
When I began to make products and she got to “play” with textures and scents in Body and Hair Care, Mommy became less minimalist. She had her favorites – my Ocean line and also anything with Lavender or Eucalyptus. She suddenly found it acceptable to soak in Bath Salts and Bath Oils, wash with various gels and bar soaps and slather on lotions and Body Butters. She loved smelling good and loved how these things made her feel emotionally and how they made her skin and hair feel.
For me it can be both. More of a chore when I have back-to-back days of it and there are lashes and heavier applications because of television or camera work. But, when it’s for fun, for a party or to play with new colors or a new smokey eye, that is fun and I love it.
This isn’t something I witnessed as a child. Not saying it didn’t happen, I just didn’t see it. My parents also split when I was about 10/11. Daddy remained in my life and he and Mommy were great at not letting their personal differences interfere. In my adult years and after my mother’s passing, my dad spoke more about how beautiful my mother was as a person. Not just her physical appearance. He seemed to be more impressed with her patience, her capacity to love and her bravery. He said he never deserved her and it took him years to realize that.
More honesty and authenticity. More of a celebration of who women really are and not who society tells us we should be. The whole “aspirational” look is annoying. I also want to see more blurring of gender lines. I have a son who likes to wear makeup sometimes- in his way. He is male but he is made to feel less so because he wants to do that. My son looks at gender in a very fluid way. For him, there are no absolutes.
Honestly, I use very waterproof mascara, but I did take a Soul Cycle class, a double, about a week ago, and I had a full face on that day because I shot video and I didn’t’ have time to remove my face before class and it ran all down my face and was wiped pretty much clean off with my towel before the end of the first class. That felt good, though, to sweat it off versus cry it off.
The gift of fragrance, but not just sending someone a fragrance, but having a fragrance experience with them so that they learn about scent and the art of perfumery and how that translates for them. I attended a business conference for women about 7 years ago that included a private shopping session for us in Nordstrom’s. Our gift from Nordstrom was a deluxe sample of the scent of our choice and I helped several women choose- not based on designer or packaging, but their lifestyle and likes and dislikes. It was so much fun to watch them discover scent in such a personal way. The beauty advisors loved it too as it resulted in sales and not just samples.
Post by Thandie
This literally home-grown brand has been on the scene for EVAH. After working with sweet Will Smith on ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, he and Jada sent me a basket of Carol’s Daughter products as a birthday gift. I still remember opening the box, and swooning at the release of rich, deep, sweet smells.
Now, years later I’m reminded of Carol’s Daughter as Westworld’s (the HBO drama I’m currently filming) hair chief Joy Zapata sent me home with the Hair Milk plus a pot of the Marula Oil mask.
A combination of still nursing my 2 year old, and a lot of shooting, has left my hair in a sorry state. So, Carol’s Daughter (aka founder Lisa Price) has come to the rescue. And I’m loving it.
Marula, known as ‘Africa’s Beauty Secret’ is found in Southern Africa and Madagascar – and the exotic fruit’s seeds provide the oil used in the line. 4 times more vitamin C than oranges, and with a sweet, nutty aroma, it’s been harvested and used in beauty concoctions for 12 thousand years.
C.D.’s cleansing and moisturising hair milk is a new kind of shampoo experience.
(that’s the chemical that makes the bubbles) instead this hair milk literally cleanses the hair in the same way a milky face cleanser removes dirt and impurities. The result is hair that is CLEAN without being stripped of all its moisture and suppleness.
But, bubbles are not the reason for cleanliness, in fact they have nothing to do with it at all.
In some cultures water isn’t even used to get clean! Oil, dust, even sweat can remove dirt. You just need a substance that can lift the dirt from your body, and carry it away. In fact, our bodies naturally clean themselves – with the substances that it produces. I remember being at school and some girls deciding to stop washing their hair – and for those who did it long enough their hair settled into being extremely healthy looking (after months of greasy, smelly protest from heads that were addicted to daily washing and application of product!). What I’m getting at is that we can be more gentle with our cleaning habits – it’s about working in harmony with natural substances.
So, without sulfates, parabens, petroleum or mineral oil Carol’s Daughter is a mainstream brand that works with nature to provide care for our hair. Our kinky, textured, beautiful hair!
I read recently that the brand had been acquired by L’Oreal. That was a number of years ago, and it looks like Lisa Price is still at the helm, and the brand is stronger than ever.
When Kay told me she was going to interview the wonderful Irene Shelley of Black Beauty & Hair Magazine, I remembered my first correspondence with them 20+ years ago. I was 15, and my Mum had a copy of the magazine. I saw that they were running a competition for wannabe models. It seemed easy – just fill out the personal details and send a photo. My Dad took a few pictures of me in our back garden (bless!) and I sent it off. A few weeks later I got a letter back telling me I’d got through to the final round! I had to go and meet them in their London office. The only hitch, was that I’d been a little loose with my personal details – I’d said I was 5 ft 8 inches. The following week I walked my 5ft 4 inches into their offices, and, well, that’s where the story ends. I was too shrimpy for their modelling needs. Heh Heh.
I like that this time Black Beauty are on our ThandieKay pages – and that Black Beauty is still going strong! x Thandie
I never set out to have a career in journalism. I enjoyed English and Art at school. Then, from my mid-teens I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer. I did my BA at Ravensbourne College of Art and them my MA at St Martin’s School of Art. When I graduated I worked as a designer for a while and then eventually got a job as a fashion editor with Root Magazine – the UK’s first black lifestyle magazine. A couple of years later, I found myself at the helm of Black Beauty & Hair magazine. I had the [usual] struggle of convincing my parents that I wanted to be a fashion designer. My dad had wanted me to be a doctor, but I eventually convinced him that I was more creative!
I’ve always loved the transformative qualities of fashion and I guess, being a shy person, I’ve always allowed my clothes to speak for me. When I was little I used to make paper dolls and make them different outfits – the fun was creating the outfits rather than playing with the dolls. I was good at drawing and started churning out fashion illustrations and found I was developing a style.
I started reading about designers like Ninivah Khomo who went to St Martin’s and designed beautiful leopard print clothes and also the American designer Norma Kamali, who was creating the kind of easy, playful clothes that I liked. And then came punk, which seemed to shake up everything.
Then, you had certain people who were arbiters of fashion who established what was ‘in’. They were usually well connected – models, actresses, royalty etc. Now you have regular girls who have become style influencers – bloggers like Leandra Medine from ManRepeller who are having fun with fashion. Fashion is meant to be fun.
I’m Nigerian. Nigerians love dressing up – give them any excuse – a party, birthday celebration or a wedding.
People are always buying fabrics and getting matching outfits made especially for that event. It’s a way of showing how wealthy you are and also how much effort you’ve put in to looking fly at someone else’s party.
With Black Beauty & Hair online we can talk about more socially relevant topics in real time rather than wait two months to put it on the magazine.
There is so much content that provokes debate. For instance, many black women use skin ‘brighteners’ to improve their complexion, so we’ll talk about how to get a blemish-free complexion without using damaging and dangerous products. Then there is the other extreme when women don’t like their complexions and actually want to be lighter. We’ll discuss that too and get the readers thinking about issues about self worth.
We want women to love themselves wherever they are in their journey.
We don’t just push one look (say natural hair for instance), as black women don’t fit into one box. ‘Weave divas’ and ‘naturalistas’ can co-exist on the same page. I love how we [black women] can pull off different looks just by changing our hair.
Adornment has always played an important part in black culture. We’ve got amazing hairstylists in the UK who are in business to make women look wonderful. So whether they’re using weaves, extensions or natural hair – it’s all good.
The most obvious change over the years has been the hairstyling trends, which can have an impact on editorial and advertising. When I first arrived, curly perms were the major trend and women went to the salon for their treatments and services so it was very salon-focused. That meant that the haircare companies needed a platform to talk about their product and aftercare, which the magazine provided. Now haircare is less about the salon experience and women feel empowered to find solutions for their own haircare needs.
Recent times have been a challenge for the afro hairdressing industry as a whole. The advent of the natural hair movement has meant that black women are re-discovering their natural hair and are proud to wear their natural textures. They are giving up their relaxers and their reliance on their hairdressers and are going DIY. They get their information from YouTube, natural hair bloggers and forums.
The specially formulated ranges that sell specifically to WOC, like Fashion Fair, BlackUp, Iman, Doris Michaels and Sleek Cosmetics, cover a range of budgets and are doing a great job in keeping us looking beautiful.
I also applaud cosmetic companies like MAC, Bobbi Brown and Lancôme, who have foundation ranges that suit different skin tones.
Necessity is always the mother of invention, and the lack of colour cosmetic products has given opportunities to savvy entrepreneurs who are making their own cosmetics ranges and marketing them through social media channels and that’s an exciting development.
However, I still think some of the major beauty brands haven’t made much progression in addressing the needs of women of colour. Their colour cosmetics ranges are still far too pale for WOC. And the day I attend a press launch where the foundation colours doesn’t stop at deep tan, will be when progress has been made.
I remember asking for black models at my graduation fashion show at Ravensbourne even though my collection didn’t have a particularly black theme, and we finally got two black girls to walk for us! So I’ve always been aware of the struggle to get black models represented on the catwalks. It’s a subject that’s always rearing its head on social media platforms or during Fashion Week.
For instance there was that MAC Instagram post of a black model’s lips during Fashion Week A/W16. People went online to say that they would stop buying MAC, because they were appalled that MAC would use a model with those lips.
It doesn’t seem to have improved since the Eighties, as the MAC post proved as there’s still an ‘other-ness’ to black women’s beauty that the mainstream has trouble relating to.
Even top models like Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman have spoken out about how racist the fashion industry is.
I love the energy and vision that manicurist Sharmadean Reid brings to her company WAH Nails. I’m inspired by fellow editors Carine Roitfeld , ex-editor of French Vogue, for proving that being sexy and chic doesn’t have an age limit, and Vogue’s Anna Wintour for being in her job for nearly as long as I have.
I have waist length locs, so I make sure I moisten and condition them on a regular basis. I add peppermint and rosemary essential oils to my water spray and spritz my hair, then I lock in the moisture with argan [or some other lovely] oil.
The beauty and hair brands I really rate for WoC include Mizani, a great brand and I’m loving Charlotte Mensah’s new Manketti Oil collection – it not only looks fab on my dressing table, it makes your hair smell and feel fab too! For beauty it’s MAC, Bobbi Brown, BlackUp and Sleek Cosmetics who all have something great in their locker.
I used to be acne-prone so I still tend to use some sort of medicated face wash to keep my skin clear and then I use a dark spot removing serum because of hyper-pigmentation. And I finish off with an SPF moisturiser.
Out of work, I love hot yoga and try to do that once a week, I’d love to do it more often but I don’t have the time. We’ve recently had a kitchen extension built, and had a great time pinning everything we wanted to buy for the build on Pinterest. I now pin everything.
Magazine: Black Beauty & Hair