As a Black woman I am fighting constantly to get the world to understand my value. When creating content I work overtime to get companies, brands, publicists, et al; to recognize that “diversity and inclusion” can’t just be a catch phrase, but it must be an action. During a recent interview I was asked, “what is the most difficult thing you’ve come across as an entrepreneur and influencer?” I only needed a second to reply, “Getting brands and companies to recognize that Black women are worth the investment.” I hope after this post it won’t be something I have to continue to do regularly.
Year after year, case study after case study, it has been proven that the Black community is one that spends money. Yet, rather than investing in a market that sets trends, influences culture, and moves the needle forward; brands and companies continue to ignore the memo. In 2018, Nielsen conducted a study showing how Black dollars are spent. With figures like $3.02 billion spent on personal bath needs and $1.9 billion in baby food, it is a wonder why there aren’t more pitches from companies that fall under these categories in our inboxes. One can only assume it is because these organizations don’t truly understand the value that lies within the target demo.
They feel inclined to send the press release, but not moved to cut the check.
What fascinates me more than anything, is the audacity and gall of some of the communications teams sitting at the helm. They’ll send press releases that don’t bother to spell your name correctly, clearly devoid of research on what I cover, and no intention of trying to forge relationships. Personally I tend to be more worked up about this, because I am a former publicist. So I know what it takes. But worst than that is when companies do the aforementioned and I reply back interested and ready to partner. Only to be met with a spiel about how there is no budget available but they are willing to send free product.
In case it isn’t clear – free product doesn’t pay rent, bills, or buy food for our families. Black creators need to make a living the same way others do. We are hiring photographers, editors, and buying equipment the same way our counterparts are. Still we’re told that our look or our style isn’t in line with the brand. Color me confused then, when a white woman or white passing woman of color is hired to work with the brand. Using hip hop lyrics in her caption, dropping into a rap squat in the sponsored post on IG, or rocking bronzer so thick it’s almost blackface.
It’s a slap in the face and a reminder that Black people are great to mimic, but we’re not see as valuable enough to do the work.
Black women creators are relegated to working with haircare lines or given beauty options from time to time. But you are hard pressed to find luxury fashion houses, car companies, or home improvement brands chomping at the bit to make some magic with us. As it stands many in this industry are still working to figure out how to incorporate influencer strategy into their marketing plan. However what they are missing completely in not focusing on the Black woman is a marketable opportunity.
outfit details: dress – zara // shoes – Chloe // sunnies – RayBan // Purse – Henri Bendel // pearl barrettes – Olive + Pepper
I’m a Black woman who wears luxury items, is a mother who buys organic, a television chef, and a person who loves to travel. That alone makes me an excellent partner for airlines, tourism boards, and food or spirit brands. Gatekeepers sitting in advertising and marketing meetings have got to remove the stigma from their psyche that Blackness doesn’t sell. We are culture. You cannot claim your organization is focused on diversity and inclusion if no one makes the decisions looks like the community you’re aiming to include. The lack of presence at the table is why Black women are consistently excluded from major trips, campaigns, and more.
Let it be understood that Black women are working diligently to carve out their space in this world. We are willing to challenge the status quo and not continue to settle for being pushed out. My challenge to major corporations is to see beyond what you have been doing. Tap into a contingency of women who share about what they love, encourage their friends to shop, and will shoutout something if it treats them right.
It’s high time the world start seeing that Black women are worth the investment, we’re done playing second. We’ve influenced for free long enough.