Dark circles... Be gone p. 8 Hair-story of Naturalistas p.22
Must-have beauty product this season p.9
“My favourite shade to make is one that makes you smile.” Chris, manager Bite Beauty Lip Lab manager in Toronto.
Click here to watch Qweens’ visit to the Bite Beauty Lip Lab.
Contents 6 a pop of colour on your eyes to make them glisten in the moonlight
FOR OUR QWEENS 4 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 5 THANK YOU LETTER 6 GET THE LOOK
21 SHORT FEATURE Social media makes a huge difference in how companies reach their customer base, and here’s how they miss the mark sometimes. By Kristen Doopan
20 SELF LOVE An open letter from co-founder Kristen Doopan on her journey to loving her skin.
9 MUST HAVE where we break down why this special product needs to make an appearance in your makeup bag. By Elizabeth Oloidi
25 ENTREPRENEUR Here’s how one 24-year-old Calgary native plans to change the beauty industry. By Elizabeth Oloidi
8 IT’S A HACK Get rid of dark circles with this simple trick. By Elizabeth Oloidi
22 FEATURE The natural hair movement had to make a feature in this issue. Here are some Qweens speaking on their experiences. By Elizabeth Oloidi
13 TALKS We hung out with model Eden Debebe to find out her secret to flawless skin. By Elizabeth Oloidi 18 Q&A with a model who has learned to overcome struggles as a black woman in the modelling industry. By Elizabeth Oloidi
10 SHORT FEATURE A deeper look into why Fenty Beauty’s marketing tactic benefited sale revenue. By Elizabeth Oloidi
Foundation is the foundation of diversity
14 SHORT FEATURE A look at cultural and societal effects on beauty trends. By Kristen Doopan 15 SHORT FEATURE An ode to dark-skinned people who have been told they were “pretty for...” By Kristen Doopan
Follow Qweens on Social Media @qweensmagazine
ON THE COVER Dominic Stephenson is wearing Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r foundation in 440. Photography Elizabeth Oloidi Makeup Dominic Stephenson and Elizabeth Oloidi
3 Winter 2018
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS WINTER 2018
elcome to our first issue of Qweens
Magazine! Wow, how time flies when creating a magazine. We
remember when this was just a simple idea at brunch in Vancouver over the summer, and now it’s a magazine. The process of creating this first issue is much like the journey of self-love. There were long nights that left us with dark circles, but as true beauty Qweens we knew how to say,
“Bye-bye Dark Circles” (p.8 ) with one simple trick. But, despite this, the first issue has survived and we fittingly call it our Naturally Radiant issue. Why? Because Qweens is all about tackling issues that speak to darker-skinned people of colour looking to find beauty in their natural selves in a world that often forgets they deserve the appreciation and recognition too. We hope this issue serves as an inspiration for those struggling to find true love within themselves, and the beauty of diversity. From loving one’s natural crown, “Hair-Story of Naturalistas” (p. 22) to loving the melanin created with brown sugar and honey, “Brown and Beautiful” (p.18). We hope this issue inspires you to fall in love with your natural radiance.
With love and power from your editors,
Elizabeth Oloidi Editor-in-Chief
Kristen Doopan Co-founder
Follow me on Instagram @tis_liz_o and Twitter @OloidiE
Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @kristend__
To you... ...we say thank you Without the help of our behind-the-scenes editors and contributors, Qweens could have never been what it is today. We would like to thank Lora Grady who served as the perfect mentor, helping with story ideas, picking the cover photo and all other images used to create this issue. We would also like to thank our dear editor Lindy Oughtred for helping us craft our stories into compelling, powerful and thought-provoking pieces. We would also like to thank our videographer and dear friend Cellie Agunbiade for being our cinematic genius in helping with the filming of the short documentary and our videos for our website. Thank you to our friends and family for their support, guidance and understanding of our erratic behaviour during this time. Thank you to all our sources and featured Qweens for your willingness to speak about the beauty industries successes and shortcomings. And finally, a big thank you to you, our Qweens. Thank you for keeping up with us during the process on our Instagram and Twitter pages: @ qweensmagazine. Thank you to all Qweens who have come before us and will come after us, for inspiring this journey. --- Qweens Magazine ÂŠ
Get the New Year look If you’re looking for a first-date look,
Model: Dominic Stephens, Makeup by Elizabeth Oloidi Photographed by Elizabeth Oloidi
here’s one that packs a punch without having too much going on!
THE JACLYN HILL PALLETTE X MORPHE ($49) “Firework” Morphe
THE JACLYN HILL PALLETTE X MORPHE ($49) “Enchanted” Morphe
Killawatt Freestyle Highlight ($42) “Trophy Wife” Sephora
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation ($42) “440” Sephora
MAC Retro Lipstick($22) “Ruby Woo” MAC
Match Stix Trio Contour and Hihglight ($67) “Deep 400” Sephora
ESSENCE ($6) “Rock ‘n’ doll” Volume and eye opening mascara in “Black” Shoppers Drugmart
All images taken by Elizbaeth Oloidi; except images of Fenty Pro Filt’r Foundation and Killawayy Freestyle Highlight provided by Fenty Beauty.
This season’s news on makeup trends and products
Fenty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter ($42) “Ginger Binge/Moscow Mule” Sephora
Dark Circles... Be Gone!
By Elizabeth Oloidi
It’s that point in the year where you wake up,
Here’s one trick I found to be very useful. I call
it’s dark, you leave work or school and it’s
it “my bang for a buck” trick, because I’m really
dark. It’s dark all day, every day, so you’re
getting my money’s worth! In three (four if
always tired. But just because it’s dark outside,
you’re going the extra mile) you can say bye-
doesn’t mean your eyes need to match that
bye dark circles!
Step 1: Before or after foundation, depends on when you like to do
your concealer (I do it after) use an eyeshadow brush or concealer brush to blend red lipstick into under eye area. Creating a triangle shape with the red lipstick, before blending makes for better coverage and bright, youthful look overall.
Step 2: Once blended, do your regular concealer routine. If you do not wear concealer, repeat the same technique used to blend red lipstick.
Step 3: Use a blender or brush, to blend concealer in. Be careful not to go in circular motions so you don’t mix the lipstick with your concealer. Dab, don’t smear.
Bonus Step 4: Set concealer with setting powder.
And voilà! If you want to watch my process click the play button below
Qweens Pic of the Season It’s winter, which means cooler lipstick tones are all
“In my purse I always need a lip colour! I really only
the rage. If you’re sick of your
experiment with lips on myself,
go-to burgundy tone, then we
so I tend to have a few on me at any
suggest trying the new Fenty
given time.” - Tami El Sombati,
Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in the shade “Griselda”
international makeup artist.
Burgundy tones go well with
This perfectly compact lip-
almost any skintone, so for all
stick is great for on-the-go gals
our Qweens out there this little
who need to jazz up their look in
wonder may be your next
the middle of the day.
This rather neutral shade goes If you’re just starting out with lipsticks, we suggest using this sparingly and pairing it with your fave lip balm
well with almost any outfit, yes any outfit. So it’s a great staple to have in your makeup bag.
Why does Qweens Fenty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick ($23) “Griselda” Sephora
recommend this? We tried it. And loved it! Check out our Instagram page for the result,
CRACKS IN THE
By Elizabeth Oloidi
All images provided by Fenty Beauty Â©
he cracks in the foundation of the beauty industry may no longer be in shade range, but rather in how companies market the shade diversity. With foundation being a staple in the makeup bag of most makeup enthusiasts, the right shade could make the difference between a good makeup day or a bad one. However, how would consumers know to find the right shade if companies are not marketing their products to all skin tones? This is the reason Toronto YouTuber and beauty guru Janielle Wright, 28, says Fenty Beauty is ahead of the beauty game right now, grossing over $72 million in media value alone from its first launch. The campaigns featured famous black models like Duckie Thot, Paloma Eslesser and Slick Woods, Leomie Anderson; Halima Aden wearing her hijab, as the primary faces of Fenty Beauty. As a dark-skinned black woman, Wright was finally happy to see women who looked like her represented in a beauty campaign. “We were able to see in pictures that there is a dark-skinned woman that has Fenty foundation on. Rihanna also had us— dark-skinned women of colour— there in her campaign,” Wright said.
“Some days I would have to either bring my own makeup or my agent will tell me to come with my foundation already on my face,” she says. Drummond says the lack of available products often resulted in her either having to do her makeup herself or having an ashy foundation that was not the right colour for her shoots. “It wasn’t the makeup artist’s fault. It’s just that the products weren’t available,” she says. Present-day makeup may include more shades, but as Wright pointed out, the main issue is the representation of diversity in their marketing of the shades. “That’s the problem,” she says. “I feel like that’s why everyone is so on Fenty Beauty.” Natasha Suntewari, Public Relations and social media manager for VIVA Luxury & Travel magazine, says that Fenty Beauty’s success could also be attributed to Rihanna’s brand, as an influential celebrity who has a major impact on people the world over. “Throughout the years she spent creating this brand, she made sure to release sneak peeks and updates to the public through her Instagram and Twitter, building up the excitement for the launch- a clever marketing tactic indeed,” Suntewari says.
Other companies have had a wide shade range available for years. Make Up For Ever, for example, has offered a 40-shade foundation range since 2015, as its famous Instagram post says in response to Fenty Beauty launching with 40 shades. Wright says the difference between the two companies is that Make Up For Ever doesn’t highlight its shade diversity in the social media marketing campaigns, whereas Fenty Beauty puts black women in the forefront of the campaigns.
However, Suntewari says it is not fair to only credit Fenty Beauty’s success to Rihanna’s brand, but because the company was creating products for all skin tones.
“We were able to see in pictures that there is a dark-skinned girl that has (Rihanna’s) foundation on. She also had us there in her campaign,” Wright says. “I don’t really see Make Up For Ever with black models.”
Suntewari also acknowledges social media influencers, like Janielle Wright, who make tutorials from products sent to them by beauty companies on their social media pages, an important part of marketing as this approach gives more exposure for those companies.
But what makes Fenty Beauty so revolutionary? After all, many brands provide dark-skinned women with their foundation shades. Nicole Richards, founder of The Makeup Room, a Torontobased beauty instructional salon, doesn’t think there’s an issue when it comes to the diversity in shade ranges. As a dark-skinned woman, she says she has never had a problem finding the right shade.
“Her products also needed to be somewhat special and different for Fenty Beauty to have made as much money as it did,” she says. “The diverse range of products and the way they were expressed in their marketing did exactly that.”
“Influencers are more likely to start trends which people feel are more attainable, as opposed to say, a celebrity promoting it on a billboard- which seems much more farfetched,” she says. “Fenty Beauty also sent their whole range of products to various influential beauty bloggers around the world, in exchange for reviews on their social channelscreating a trend everyone wanted to be part of.”
“I don’t buy the hype that there aren’t enough brands for darker skin tones,” Richards says. She believes Fenty Beauty “may have opened up more colour options,” but there are many brands available that provide a wide range of foundation for all people. Rewind to 25 years ago when model Janice Drummond, now in her early 40s, first started her career. She recalls the lack of foundation shades available to her at shoots.
News, Columns on Beauty Trends
BEAUTY THE JACLYN HILL PALLETTE X MORPHE ($49) Morphe
Beauty Talks with EDEN DEBEBE Qweens sat down with Elmer Olsen model Eden Debebe to discuss her skin care routine after long days of wearing makeup and being the jet-setter she is. Here are her tips for the busy Qweens out there looking for the healthy glow.
“When I tell you your skin is glowing, your skin is glowing after you use this!” The Bay.com $50 “I use this in the daytime because it has SPF 30, and it’s for dry skin so it’s super moisturising.” Shoppers Drugmart
“I use this eye serum when I’m a little tired, have bags under my eyes.” Sephora.com $9.80
“If I ever have any breakouts, I put this on top.” The Body Shop.com $14
All images taken by Elizbaeth Oloidi; except image of Eden Debebe taken from her Instagram page.
The Skin I’m In...
By Kristen Doopan
efore my parents separated, my mom and I would bond over bleaching my skin” Areej Hussain says.
Skin bleaching has been a prominent trend in the beauty community for many years. The notion of having lighter skin has been reciprocated in society, as societal norms have strayed away from considering darker skin as beautiful. The term “bleaching” means to whiten, clean and sterilize. These components are mixed in with chemicals to create dangerous creams and over-the-counter products that are catered to men and women who want the “perfect skin colour.” In today’s society, sadly, this desired skin colour is having white skin. In the islands of Jamaica, skin bleaching has become a phenomenon, through the lyrics of popular reggae artist Vybz Kartel, who promotes skin bleaching and lighter-skin women as being more beautiful than the rest. Sammy Gorms, the Toronto-based makeup artist is a bi-racial woman who struggles with her identity as she is mixed with both white and black descent. “When I tell someone I am black, they look at me and say, “no you’re not” and it makes me so upset,” Gorms says. In India, if you are darker, you are seen as being “poor” as men and women who have darker skin tones are assumed to have manual labour jobs outside. The stigma that comes with having darker skin varies from place to place however, it is evident that they all have one thing in common: they want lighter skin. But what is the “desired skin colour?” and what are the psychological effects of constantly hating the skin you are in? This stems far beyond the Western sphere as people of all colours from all parts of the world are engaging in this harmful trend.
Areej Hussain is guilty of indulging in this trend. From the tender age of 9-years-old, Hussain’s mom, Sania, would bleach her skin. “As long as I could remember, my mom would sit me down, and we would make a whole day out of bleaching my skin,” Hussain says. Hussain’s mom would use mix an intricate paste and have her daughter lather it onto her face, arms and legs. Ms. Hussain would have to use gloves, as the paste was described as being “messy and “chalky-like.” The paste would then sit on Areej’s skin for an hour or two, and then she would wash it off. “Growing up, I never thought too much about it,” Hussain says. Areej’s mom, Sania, is 55-years-old. She spent most of her life growing up in Pakistan but in 2000, moved to Canada with her then-husband and brought along a lot of cultural norms and traditions. “My daughter is the most beautiful person I know,” Sania says. “Growing up, lighter skin was something that was considered to be beautiful. At a young age, I wanted to look perfect, especially when looking for a husband” she says. “My mom never told me I was not beautiful in the skin I was in, but she always felt the need to make sure I looked perfect, and, I guess that meant having lighter skin,” Hussain says. Different cultures accept darker skin colours in various ways, in Areej’s culture, lighter skin is the desired skin colour. “I see how much it has impacted how I look at myself and also, how I identify with my culture,” Hussain says. “I don’t think being darker-skinned isn’t beautiful but, I want to teach my children to love the skin you are in. My mom never necessarily taught me that, with good reasoning, but I never want them to go through what I did” Hussain says.
Images found on: Pinterest.com
You’re Pretty... For A Dark-Skinned Girl LOVE THE SKIN YOU ARE IN By: Kristen Doopan
“If You Are Darker Than a Paper Bag, Then You Are Not Sexy, You Are Not a Woman”
ou are pretty…for a dark-skinned girl”
makeup artist finds it difficult to embrace her dark skin.
This is a phrase many dark-skinned women hear on a daily basis. Is this a compliment? Why is there a negative connotation with being dark? And having brown skin?
“The makeup accounts I follow on Instagram are all commercializing lighter-skinned women. I just can’t relate and that is exactly why I decided to get into makeup,” Dhowtal says.
Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis argues that if a woman is darker than a paper bag, then she is not considered to be sexy or a real woman, by media’s standards.
“For a long, long time I wore lighter foundations, tried every makeup trick in the book to make myself look lighter,” 19-year-old makeup artist Alyssa Chamber says. “Now, brown skin is the new trend as everyone wants that bronzed look.”
“When you see a chocolate-complexioned actress on TV in a complex and sexualized role, clap for that woman and whoever cast her, because dark-brown women have to contend with the colorism hurdle just to land quality roles,” Davis says in an interview with The Wrap.
“If you have dark skin, they have BB creams and foundations to make you look lighter, if you are light skin, go get a spray tan. When are we just going to be happy with what we have?” Chambers says.
Starring roles in Hollywood for darker skinned men and women are becoming more and more scarce, as having dark skin isn’t considered beautiful by societal standards.
Chambers notes that media loves to appropriate brown culture. She comes from Indian descent and is tired of being her culture worn as a costume.
Popular Toronto YouTuber and makeup artist under the internet persona “Limitlessbwl” posted a video to YouTube in March of 2016 called “DARK SKIN RUINED MY LIFE” which caught a lot of attention on the airwaves.
“I see people wearing henna, tika’s, saree’s without fully knowing what it represents in my culture,” she says. “It is disrespectful and angers me as a brown Indian woman.”
The video shares her raw struggles as a dark-skinned woman and some of the stereotypes she faces. She caught a lot of attention for shedding a light on why society is not accepting of darker skin yet, somehow, everyone wants to be the “Kardashian” type-bronzed beauty. “So many people have said to me “you know, for a dark skin girl you’re actually really pretty” she mentions in the video. “But, do you go to anyone that is fair skin and be like “for a fair skin girl, you’re actually really pretty?” “I never meant for the video to mean that I hate my dark skin, I love my skin, in fact, being a makeup artist, I prefer working with darker tones,” Suppiah says. “I just wanted to call out the bullshit I face on a daily basis simply because I have more melanin in my skin than the rest.”
Mariam Zia, a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto minoring in women studies wishes social media advertising contained more diversity. “I may have light skin, but that does not mean I am represented in mainstream media. For years,” Zia says. “I look at advertisements for makeup, beauty products and see no one I relate to,” Zia says. “My one wish is to just be represented, not just me, but men and women who look on TV and online and don’t see anyone that looks like them,” Zia says.
“My skin is who I am and I will never be ashamed of it,” Karishma Dhowtal, 18-year-old Toronto makeup artist says. Dhowtal comes from Trinidadian decent and as a young
Think-pieces on trends in cultures and societies around us
CULTURE + SOCEITY “We’re fortunate to live in such a diverse country, and for too long many people that exceeded the limited shade selection have simply not been given the option to experiment with makeup, let alone find products that match.”- Tami El Sombati
All images provided by Sephora ©
Our Qweens come in all races, shapes, sizes and colours. We live in a time where mainstream media perpetuates negative stereotypes towards dark-skinned men and women. Qweens promotes diversity and we are celebrating young people of colour who are proud of their skin and where they come from. Never be ashamed of what you look like. Own it, and make it your best accessory. Models: Nyashia James, Nâ€™Nekah Wint and Shana Harris.
Photography Billie Chiasson & Makeup Ashley Readings
By Elizabeth Oloidi
eet Naro Lokuruka. The young model who has been jet-setting around the world since her early twenties. Qweens’ co-founder Elizabeth Oloidi had the opportunity to speak with her while she was in Paris for Fashion Week on her experience being a Muslim woman of African descent in the model industry. Currently signed to Plutino Models agency in Toronto, Lokuruka’s experiences have not always been easy being signed by agencies and booking jobs as a dark skin black woman. But, that has not affected her tenacity in pursuing a successful career as an international model. Why did you want to become a model? I never necessarily wanted to become a model. I was raised in a very conservative African family and can remember being about 15 and receiving a card from an agent along with my younger sisters. It was the first time the possibility was presented to me but my parents thought my age too young and the industry far too risky. It was only once I moved to Toronto after a few years in University by myself did I decide to give it a try when I received another card from a small agency. I am glad they did and I got into it a bit older. As a black woman, what hardships have you faced being a model? Xenophobia is an issue I am constantly having to deal with, work-wise and in my daily life. For one, it is not always easy travelling as a visibly African woman I must say. Work-wise searching for more agencies all over the world the one answer I almost always get is, “we already have one or maybe two black models already”. Or, “our market won’t understand your ‘look’ but come by if you find yourself in the country and we might try it.” I can understand if they do not want me but it should not rest on how many of “us” they have. To them, they see it as having more than one or two of “us” means that any more models of colour will be taking work from their more established models of colour I think. Yet, when you look at most boards, we are only a very small percentage of it and only at certain times when we are “in season” in some markets. We are all different people. There is surely enough work for everyone. I have more genetic differences from my black sister than to anyone of another race. We all look nothing alike. I am still not sure I understand why this happens, it robs us of so many opportunities. Why is it important for black folks, women especially to speak up again the hardships they face in the beauty industry? I wasn’t sure what to share in this interview but I have come to realize that silence provides no protection. We need to speak up more. For ourselves and others. It’s the only way. People are so quick to jump to the “angry black woman” label when we speak of the prejudices and things we have to deal with in our daily lives as women. Now, I experience many things and I can surely say other, black and otherwise, models in the industry may relate to some but most of us are sadly afraid to speak up in fear of being “blacklisted” and left out for being “mouthy” and “hard to work with “. We are not. We are some of the loveliest,
hardworking individuals you can come across. All we want is to be treated the same as our peers. With respect and consideration. What human being doesn’t? What were your experiences like with makeup and having the right foundation shade available to you on shoots? It has not really been a problem these days especially with all the brands available now when it’s only myself they are shooting. I still make it a point to know what is being used on my skin. I have an orange base and only certain brands cater to my skin. Some might be slightly offended but most do not mind as they understand as artists. I remember the days when I used to have to bring my own foundation. I still carry an emergency one sadly as some artists only carry shades for certain “acceptable shades” to shows. I find that unacceptable especially when a show should or does mean working with various skin tones. You cannot tell me that with the numerous makeup stores and brands available you cannot find shades to keep in your kit for girls past a certain shade. I often wonder how can one call themselves a proper makeup artist if they are not ready to take care of all skin types at any given time; especially when they already know the variation of skin tones they most likely will be working with. It sadly comes back to the fact that most of the time only a few artists carry the darker tones as they are not “widely used”. You are known for your natural low-cut hairstyle, how have your experiences been with hair stylists at shoots? It has often happened that I find myself the last girl in the makeup chair because I am “easy” to do as I have no hair to style (you would think the reverse would be what gets done). I recently did a fashion show and they were finishing off my makeup (I was the only one not done) as we were waiting in line, changed and everything. It ruins your whole working experience and I love shows. Most of the time, it’s because only a few, usually one artist can “take care” of “dark” skin. There were about 4 of us for the poor lovely girl who I still keep in contact with, herself a black woman to work on. It doesn’t happen all the time but far too often for it to be right or fair. In the modelling industry and beauty industry do you think we are doing enough for the women of colour (in terms of representation and having tools available for them)? There has been a push in recent years that has seen more designers and brands be more inclusive but it’s still very rare that I get to work with more than two or even three women of colour at once, and that’s mostly at shows. I have observed that it sadly happens with girls of say Arab or Asian backgrounds for example. I truly hope we keep seeing diversity being more than a “trend” and part of daily life, as it should be. What about models modelling makeup brands? Have you noticed a shift towards advocating for more diversity? There has been a big shift yes. More brands are being more diverse in terms of representation and I truly hope it continues and grows. The world is so diverse and its time it was reflected properly.
Brown and Beautiful: How I Learned To Love My Skin By Kristen Doopan
earning to love my skin colour took a long time. Even now, I am still learning to love and accept it.
I was born in Canada but at 4-years-old, moved to the beautiful twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Living in a different country not only gave me a new perspective but, shed a light on a different set of beauty standards that I had to live up to. I always had dark skin and I was always reminded of this when being compared to my two sisters, who were much lighter than me. This was my only distinguishing factor, that I had significantly darker skin than my siblings. I wasnâ€™t singled out for my personality or my intelligence, but for the colour of my skin. My self-esteem took a tumble as that mentality stuck with me throughout my entire life. Growing up, I loved to play outside. My grandparents had a long front driveway and I would spend hours riding my scooter up and down the endless pavement in the scorching sun. I remember my grandma telling me to not stay too long outside as she did not want me to get â€œtoo darkâ€? from the sun. My role models growing up were the all American teenagers I saw on the Disney Channel. I desperately longed for blonde hair and white skin like Hilary Duff. I would sit at the edge of
my bed and pray that I could have lighter skin and blue eyes. I wanted to look like everyone I saw on TV and hated the skin I was in. Moving to Canada in 2007, I brought over these insecurities. Adapting to the Canadian culture, I lost myself trying to fit in instead of standing out. I had bad acne in my teen years and would try every bleaching cream on the market to lighten my skin. Learning to love your skin is so hard when society is telling you that their definition of beautiful is not what you see looking back at you in the mirror. Mainstream media has painted a certain image that I thought I had to live up to, however, over time, I learned that being true to who I am is all that matters. What got me through this phase of self-hate was growing up. I did a lot of growing up both personally and professionally. I began looking up to women who looked just like me and embraced my differences rather than focusing on my skin. I also felt empowered as I stepped into the workforce and build a strong platform for myself. Being influenced at such a young age, it stunted my ability to see past the norms. Now, as a 21-year-old female, I feel confident and can finally identify with not only my community but, my dark and beautiful skin.
Putting the ‘Social’ in Social Media By Kristen Doopan
ocial media marketing has become a fundamental aspect of the business as millennials continue to embrace online platforms. Companies are becoming more aware of what they are posting online as the audiences shift to online content. Dove recently missed the mark with their Facebook campaign for their new line of body washes. The advertisement featured an African-American woman in a brown t-shirt. After using the product, a white woman is shown removing the darker coloured t-shirt and revealing a lighter coloured t-shirt. The image sparked controversy across the social sphere as users were furious with the company for promoting an image with racial undertones. Dove was quick to issue an apology on Twitter. Hugo Filipe, a social media expert at Qode Social, is part of a team of marketing agents that specializes in digital and online marketing. Qode Social thrives on making sure that a company’s social media accounts are reflective of how they want to be perceived by the public. With the Dove fiasco at bay, Filipe questions the integrity of companies after they flub on social media. “You simply [cannot] teach a company how to be diverse. If they aren’t from the get-go, then diversity was never part of their marketing strategy,” Filipe says. Despite the increase in social media usage, many beauty companies have been caught using the platforms in the wrong ways. Tarte Cosmetics, a popular beauty brand, flubbed on social media as they posted a racist meme to Instagram which stirred up a heated debate online. The meme perpetuated a tired and
racist joke against the Asian community. It was quickly removed from Instagram and the company issued an apology, passing all the blame for the mistake on a “new intern.” The apology included an image of a sad cat. After facing even more backlash for the apology, the company’s CEO, Maureen Kelly wrote a personal note and posted it on Instagram. She apologized for the actions of her social team and assured users that racism is not tolerated at Tarte Cosmetics. “The Tarte [situation] stems from carelessness not only [from] the organization but the employees who did not check and double check everything they posted online,” Filipe says. “There is no five-step diversity training. Beauty companies need to restructure their marketing processes,” he says. “Brand loyalty is important and what companies post online have a detrimental effect on their audiences,” Filipe says. “They need to start paying more attention to the messages they want to post online.” Sammy Gorms, a professional makeup artist from Toronto, is sick of what she sees online. “I only follow makeup brands that cater to people of colour, emphasis on the word cater.” “In my line of work, I feel as though it is important to use products that are appealing, on social media,” she says. Gorms has a large online following on YouTube and Instagram. She is approached by many companies to promote their products, however, only uses makeup brands that have a positive message behind their marketing campaigns. “Makeup Forever, NYX, Fenty Beauty… these are brands that not only promote diversity but have a positive social presence,” Gorms says. These brands have received constant
praise online for their diverse and inclusive marketing campaigns. This is seen not only in their products but with the models they use to market their products. Fenty Beauty is critically acclaimed by the public as it has one of the widest range of foundation any beauty brand has ever seen. “I have various clients, ranging from various skin tones. It’s important for me as an artist to not only have the right products but make sure my clients are happy with the results,” Gorms says. “I am very careful as to which products I use and promote online because it is a direct reflection of who I am as an artist.” Part-time model Eden Debebe has worked with brands that are not diverse in their marketing. She says this has an impact on her as being a black model in the business is already extremely hard. “As a teen, I would use [specific] brands as I would see my skin colour being represented in their campaigns,” Debebe says. “It’s hard to watch makeup companies, any beauty companies, in general, promoting products that I cannot use.” Filipe’s advice to all beauty companies is to be cautious and promote only positive messages online. “If you work for a company, it is not your job to have your personal views embedded into the content,” Filipe says. “My advice to any company is to ask the intended audience how they feel about [the advertising],” he says. “Make a survey, anything to get the general public’s reaction.” “People want to see a face behind the branding, so it is important [that] companies make the right decisions when promoting their products on social media,” Filipe says. “That includes being inclusive and sensitive to all races, ethnicities and cultures.”
Hair-story of Naturalistas By Elizabeth Oloidi
The journey to self-love begins with one step. For the black woman that step may begin with loving our natural hair. For the love of our hair in its natural state. For the love of ourselves.
here are many journeys we take on the path to self-love and although the paths may differ, the end is often the same. For black women, this is the journey of knowing and loving our natural hair. Women return to their natural hair for many different reasons. If you’re like me, it was because your hair was dying at the roots. If you are like Qweens’ cover model and co-chair and founder of UTSC student group Future Black Physicians, Dominic Stephenson, it was because of circumstance. Having grown up in Jamaica perming and straightening her hair, Stephenson says she didn’t know what her natural hair looked like. “I was young, I never made the decision to get my hair permed, I never grew up wanting straight hair, it was just decided for me,” she says. But, why is the black community conditioned to think that perming is the only option for natural? “In Jamaica, perms are so common so it didn’t seem like that big of a deal,” Stephenson says. And for a lot of women perms were the normal treatment for their hair, along with other styles such as weaves, wigs and braids. Styles that I, and many others, believed were necessities for healthy hair. However,
Cheryl Thompson, University of Toronto visual arts professor and author of “Black Women and Identity: What’s Hair Got to Do with It”, doesn’t agree with this. “I push back on that being a protective hairstyle because we know long-term weave wearing will thin your hair, because (your hair) isn’t able to breathe,” Thompson says. “So, it’s protective for a little bit, but years and years of it, it stops working.” That’s what happened with my perming experience, and I am not the only one. Nana Frimpong, UTSC Student’s Union VP Equity, grew up perming her hair but in 2015 she realized how damaging perming was for her hair. “My relaxed hair was not cute by any means, it was very unhealthy and I didn’t know how to manage it,” Frimpong says, which is one of the reasons she decided to go natural. Stephenson says she never had the “a-ha” moment with perming her hair. Her journey to natural hair came after a move from New York to Toronto, and was not so much an abrupt choice, but a slow realization. “I didn’t know any hairdressers, stylists or salons to go here, so I thought it would be easier to put some braids in,” she says.
After some months with her braids in she noticed how healthy her roots were, and for the first time, she saw her natural hair. “I think the reason I felt so refreshed was that my hair was permed when I was young and I didn’t remember what my natural hair looked like,” she says. Thompson’s transition to natural hair and dreadlocks came after 16 years of perming her hair and she knew she needed to make a change for the health of her hair and scalp. “At the end of it I was either going to get dreads or just shave my hair off because my hair was just damaged, that’s just a fact,” she says. “Those chemicals are extremely harsh, harsher than we like to think they are.” But there is more to the natural hair journey than just realizing how harsh the chemicals in the relaxers are. “In terms of the natural movement, I think a lot of black women are really talking about self-love, even though it
seems like it’s just about hair,” Thompson says. Finding the love within ourselves to know our natural selves through our hair, I believe, is another step towards self-love. Though we may be inspired by the damage our hair has sustained for many years, the inspiration for change also comes from seeing other women loving themselves with their natural hair. Frimpong recalls the moment she decided she would let her natural hair grow out was when she saw another black woman embracing her natural texture. “I was just thinking ‘she is stunning and she is slaying the game with her short hair, why can’t I do that?’” she says. “That night, I took my braids out and rocked my natural hair for the first time ever.” Stephenson also believes that this journey to self-love is often fueled by seeing the success of other ‘naturalistas’. “When we see our own people wearing their natural hair and thriving and being successful, that’s what I think plays a big role in more women being comfortable in their natural hairstyle,” she says. For those still considering making the journey, how do you start? Where do you go from the moment you decide to return to your natural roots? “What I do think is more black people need to get used to their own texture. Because when you know what your texture is, then you might realize you can do a lot of things with it,” Thompson says.
FEATURE Qweens feature stories aim to highlight those who are working towards bringing and celebrating diversity in the beauty industry.
THESE ARE OUR COMPLEXIONNS Here is how 24-year-old Nyedouth Matuet decided it was time to change the face of makeup for dark-skinned people of colour. This entrepreneur did not take no for an answer as she worked towards creating her dream makeup company: Complexionn. By Elizabeth Oloidi
magine working in a store, advising customers on which products they should use, but none of the products you’re selling cater to your needs. That is how 24-year-old Nyedouth Matuet felt working as a makeup artist in department stores in Calgary. “I worked at an all-white makeup counter, and it seemed black people didn’t come here until I was working there,” Matuet says. Her frustration turned into inspiration for her makeup company. Founded in 2016, Complexionn is specifically designed for dark-skinned women -- by a darkskinned woman. (I took out ‘of colour.’ Working as a cosmetologist made Matuet realize there weren’t many products available to women who looked like her. “I got to learn more about makeup. I saw the other side of it, being dark-skinned and even being Sudanese, I feel like people don’t understand the difference,” she said joking that “there’s dark skin and then there’s Sudanese.” From there, Matuet decided she needed to change this. She had already started her YouTube channel in 2014 to market
herself as a new makeup artist and to expand her make-up kit. She also was building her following on Instagram through her platform on YouTube. “I thought ‘ok I’ll put myself out there get some free stuff’ because that was initially my goal,” Matuet says. YouTube has become a popular entrepreneurial tool for aspiring makeup artists to gather a following and build a network with other established makeup companies. For example, Nigerian-American YouTuber Jackie Aina, whose on-camera persona and energy has gained her a following of 1.8 million YouTube subscribers after eight years of beauty vlogging. Aina recently collaborated with Artist Couture on her highlights “La Bronze” and “La Peach”.
Internationally-known and Canadian-based makeup artist, Tami El Sombati thinks YouTube has become the epicentre for many beauty entrepreneurs. “Without a doubt, the products used in their tutorials will be bought, so why not create your own?” she says. That is exactly how Matuet felt. Thus, beginning her journey to becoming an entrepreneur by using YouTube and Instagram to build her brand. “I thought I would work really hard on YouTube for a year, blow up and then a company is going to want to collaborate and I can come with a dark skin makeup line, and they’re going to help me, they’re going to fund me,” she says. Having already been on YouTube for two years, she only noticed her followers grow once she focused her energy on trying to build her brand for her company. However, two months into her new-found social media popularity, Matuet hit a roadblock. She wasn’t getting the attention from makeup companies she had hoped for. “I thought ‘if I do everything I am supposed to do, but nobody gives me that chance, then what I am supposed to do? I wasted two years trying to be enough, for someone to think I’m not?’” she says. So she decided to go solo. For six months, she sent emails to every makeup production
company Google could help her find. She sent e-mails to companies in New Zealand, Italy and anywhere else that would stay true to her goal of makeup equality, making sure that women of darker shades have representation on the shelves. These attempts only resulted in more roadblocks for Matuet. “The issue is, a lot of the companies only make custom colours, so what they had is what they have, they don’t make them any darker,” she says. After a long road of trial and errors, and also some prayers, she received an email from a private company (which would prefer to remain anonymous) she had sent an e-mail to six months prior, with a catalogue of its products. “They sent me swatches, and I thought ‘okay this might work,’” she says. Things were looking up for her. It was especially convenient that the company was in Toronto, not too far from her home in Calgary, compared to New Zealand. From here, Matuet began working with the company on formulas and the colours she wanted by sending pictures and looking through the companies catalogues. “When I got the products, I was happy they were dark enough,” she says. Matuet was finally able to start working on her new company with foundation being the first step. She wanted to start small
Feature with only a few products, foundation and contour pallets being the main products she hopes to expand later. This is something El Sombati says is a good business tactic for up-and-coming makeup brands.
Matuet hopes Complexionn can serve as a confidence booster for women who have felt left out of the foundation shade spectrum to experiment with their makeup journey. El Sombati agrees.
“Starting with a niche is a great way to test the waters and see how the market responds. It also makes it so much simpler for the consumer,” she says. “This allows for room to grow with the brand as they expand their product range.”
“We’re fortunate to live in such a diverse country, El Sombati says. “For too long many people that exceeded the limited shade selection have simply not been given the option to experiment with makeup, let alone find products that match.”
Guyé Furula, 24, a friend of Matuet’s and fellow YouTuber, agrees that it was about time someone started a makeup line solely for people with the darkest skin tones.
Furula feels that having companies like Complexionn available for dark-skinned women is important. To have a company with the sole purpose of catering to the under-represented populations of the beauty community is significant.
“It’s important for make-up brands, predominantly for darker-skinned people, to be on the market because we use makeup as much as any other person,” she says. What makes Complexionn so unique? Well, it’s all in the name, which Matuet hopes will re-define the beauty industry’s perspective of dark-skinned women. “‘Complexion’ means skin so I wanted it to be universal because there are a lot of people who are dark. I didn’t want to be too exclusive,” she says. “I wanted it to mean skin and speak to anyone who reads it.”
All images were provided by Nyedouth Matuet for this article
“It’s important to know that someone is acknowledging that we too exist and have needs,” she says. Matuet recognizes there is still a long way to go for the beauty industry to be rewritten. She feels that it’s time for major labels that choose to stay exclusive in their products to not just speak about equal makeup representation but act upon it. They cannot truly speak for their customers if they are not creating products for them. It’s also important that they understand one thing: “Unless you’re living it, you actually don’t know.”
“Being alive and being a woman is all I got, but being coloured is a metaphysical dilemma I haven’t conquered yet.” - Ntozake Shange