Did I ever tell you about the time I went for my Avon audition?? Well there I was going through a number of processes to see if I would make good for the latest TV advert. (I didn’t get the advert, but I did get chosen for Avon’s global campaign for Beauty For A Purpose) #Winning. Many moons ago, I heard the divinity that is supermodel Iman talk about her experiences of the lack of make up choices when she was an up and coming model in the 70s and it always amazed me how she used that experience to then develop her line of cosmetics. So there I was going for the final stretch of this audition.
I arrived after a long day looking as if my makeup was melting off and the lady that was there asked me if I had any makeup to take the shine down. I stood in the room thinking that I was in the Avon Cosmetics HQ and thinking “surely, you have my shade?? Don’t you??” The lovely lady then tried to powder my nose with what looked like an Ivory powder and as soon as she put it on my my nose, she let out a scary “nooooooo”. Luckily, it was only a small patch on my nose. Even luckier is that I could run back to the main room and get my own make up. I took a pit stop to the loo and all I did was take the shine off with some tissue. I got back into the room and the same lovely lady looked at me and said “that looks much better”. I hadn’t done anything other than take the shine off. I have to admit, the experience made my mind boggle – not that you could tell from my video reel (sort of) – but yes, I had just had my very own #ImanExperience.
This was just one of many aspects of how diversity has played a part in my Avon Journey. By far, one of the hardest aspects is how the ‘isms’ and ‘dog whistle’ comments are made with ease – even to this day. Amongst other things, I have been gently pushed to target “the black girls” for my team. Er, no, whilst I realise that black girls will be a welcome addition to my team, what I actually want are new recruits that want to take their business to new levels – so just about anyone that fits that criteria is fine by me. On other days, people have questioned why I was given certain opportunities. So wait? I don’t have children to feed or bills to pay too? The very notion that people don’t see me as a ‘fit’ for Avon says more about them than it does me but I have to remain focused. Focused on being the best that I can be; thereby ensuring that my team can be the best that they can be.
These comments are from women that happily acknowledge Avon’s slogan that we are the Company for Women. We are all equal despite our differences. Yet in their minds, Avon is also the Company is for some women more than others. Ask any woman what their most pressing issues are and you will find commonality. You will also find a divergence and intersectionality of interests and issues. I started my Facebook page Girls of Colour Women Avon Too because very early on I was aware that the Avon makeup range didn’t exactly cater for me. I remember being at the 2010 Avon Believe Tour in Birmingham and as I walked up to the auditorium, I saw a screen of a black woman from an Avon advert. All she did was close her eyes and I realised that this was a concept that was new to me and from there, my page was borne and I also decided to start writing this blog so that other Women of Colour could see how Avon could cater for them either as representatives or as customers – we just couldn’t do it with our foundation makeup range.this had an impact on my sales and how I pushed my marketing.
Selling to other women that looked like me was a pretty hard sell when it came to makeup and so I had to overcome the barriers of that in order to sell bubble bath or jewellery. I looked at the South African and American markets and was seriously impressed by their representation of women of ALL shades and it was really heartwarming to see a woman of any colour grace the cover of the brochure regularly – and it wasn’t a huge deal. It showed that Avon really was the Company for Women – ALL women. In the UK, we have had Alesha Dixon and I was truly excited by her involvement – but since then, that’s been it.
But for those of you that think that I have been resting on my laurels on this issue, I have been working with Avon, who have thankfully recognised that the makeup range needed to be broadened to become more inclusive. Other ranges out there have zero problem with this issue as women that look for darker shades automatically know which brands cater for them. Avon doesn’t spring to mind immediately. So I have gotten involved with Avon and the First Look team and tested their Flawless range with Blue technology IQ and I actually love it.
I try to show Women of Colour on my YouTube channel and Facebook pages to Get The Look and showcase the products that I have used. This blog is also an attempt to showcase what customers that Avon can celebrate diversity. It;s been happening in South Africa and the USA for a hot minute and now the UK are doing their bit to celebrate and recognise it too.
I truly respect the Avon ream for their efforts and as I’ve always said, I won’t endorse anything that I don’t think is beneficial to my customers, my team or my business. I do know that the team is fully committed to becoming a more inclusive cosmetic brand and here’s to hoping that my team will continue to grow as a diverse group of women that truly represent ALL WOMEN from here onwards.
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