Our guest this month on Every Skin Has a Story: Creatives of Color Take on Beauty is Rea Ann Silva, creator and CEO of Beautyblender, the category-defining brand, makeup sponge and cosmetics line created in 2003 and launched nationwide in 2013. Rea Ann developed the edgeless sponge while on the television set of Girlfriends, a show centered on four African American Women that premiered in high definition in 2000. From there, she grew the brand to a multi-million dollar company helmed and operated by women from diverse backgrounds.
We celebrate the success of women of color like Rea Ann because of her brilliance and vision, and also because we know the ongoing challenges women of color face in the spaces we work, live, and operate. We’ve talked in the past about a few of these challenges from hair discrimination to beauty representation. In this post, we’re going to talk about some challenges minority business owners face and how the dearth of minority-owned businesses impact our nation’s economy as a whole.
According to the US Census, minority-owned businesses have increased since 2007; however, companies founded by people of color are less likely to receive business loans and are disproportionately less likely to receive capital investments than their white counterparts. This disparity certainly creates issues around sustainability: how fast a company can grow, if at all, and if a company can keep going through the storms, setbacks, and challenges that arise in business. Inc.com reports that this discrimination has led to the foregoing of over 1 million new companies owned by people of color, which translates to the loss of over 9 million jobs and $300 billion in new income for workers. Discrimination is bad for business; it is also bad for the majority of working people in America.
Lack of minority-owned businesses also takes a human toll. The discrimination felt by business owners attempting to break into the market also contributes to economic disparities for people of color at large. Direct correlations exist between the number of successful minority-owned businesses and the numbers needed to reduce unemployment, end wage stagnation and close the income gap between white and nonwhite workers.
All this to say that when a company like Beautyblender wins, we all win. A survey published last year by Wells Fargo & Co. and Gallup finds that minority business owners represent about 14% percent of business owners overall. When we celebrate Rea Ann Silva and Beautyblender, we celebrate the tipping of the scales toward equality. In order to create balance within our world—from our national resources to our natural resources— we must commit to supporting businesses from founders of diverse backgrounds. It is our small actions that create a new landscape where all of us can begin to envision and build an economic foundation that works.
We invite you to watch this incredible conversation on @officalretrouve’s IGTV.