Naeemah Lafond, Global Artistic Director for amika and #ItTakesAProTeam Artist, speaks out on supporting black beauty professionals, and champions for change within the beauty industry. It starts with these action steps as first shared through her Instagram account @naeemahlafond.
What I’m about to say here is long overdue. There’s a global conversation about racism and inequality that is taking place. I’m optimistic in knowing that my colleagues in the hair care industry and other industries that we contribute our work to, have an open ear and are reaching out to me to find out how they can do better. Outside of what is being done in your personal lives to advocate for change and injustice towards black people, there also needs to be an internal look at your professional spaces and the changes that need to be made there.
I believe that the first step lies in recognizing the disproportionate lack of access that black people have to opportunities in this industry, which lead to systemic and economic inequalities. I want to be proactive, so I’ve made a list of action steps that decision makers and leaders can follow in making a real change in our industry that goes beyond a social media post. We are at a historical moment, and I, along with many of my peers are open to having this conversation with you―as awkward as it may get―so that we can advance as an industry in a way that is a true representation of all of its artists. Our industry as a collective needs to do better. Our craft is owed that. Let’s do the work. All hands on deck.
Action Steps To Effect Change:
- Hire us as hairstylists on your creative teams. Don’t just put our work on your mood boards, put us on the call sheet.
- Create equal opportunity. Don’t ONLY hire black freelancers when you have black talent/model―we can do it all.
- Normalize black creatives in the beauty industry and in the editorial world. Publish our work in your magazines and other media platforms.
- Normalize hiring black leads. There is a fine line between being an assistant and being a ghost artist. Also, don’t only hire black assistants when you need someone to do braids or prep natural hair for you. Black assistants can also do it all too. Open the areas of opportunity.
- Be INTENTIONAL about inclusivity. We want representation on all platforms not just the ones you need a black perspective or a black face for. Go out of your way to make it happen.
- Black hairstylists also have specialties and are multi-layered. Recognize that we are also mega influencers, celebrity stylists, film/TV hairstylists, editorial stylists, theater hairstylists, wig specialists, hair cutting specialists, hair color specialists, not just experts on black hair. Allow us to lend our voices to all conversations whether it be on your panels, educational platforms or as contributors to your publications.
- Hire black educators. Put them on your teams, on your stages and in your video tutorials. We are curriculum writers, content creators, experienced educators and motivational public speakers.
- Add natural hair/texture education to your repertoire. As a salon owner, make curl care and natural texture education mandatory so that your services can be available to anyone who walks into your salon. Seek those educators who specialize in this category to come into your salons to teach.
- Salon Owners: Create space for equal opportunity and advancement within your teams.
- Understand that an artist being black doesn’t automatically mean that they specialize in curl care/natural texture. Some do, some don’t (see #6). Just as non-black artists have the creative freedom to do all hair without a label being imposed on them, we want the same respect. Let us tell you what our expertise is.
- Give credit. Don’t wipe out and discredit our contributions to the beauty industry by renaming and repackaging techniques that we have created or techniques that we have been using for years.