The beauty industry may seem like the last place that could ever embrace the message of the female empowerment, but now in 2017, brands are taking the mantra of female strength and diversity to a whole new level. Gone are the airbrushed ads filled with stick-thin models, and here to stay are campaigns that embrace women of all sizes and colors.
To get a better understanding of how beauty brands are taking the female empowerment message into their own hands, we talked to four brand founders and CEOs on what girl power means to them.
1. Jane Iredale, Founder and President of Jane Iredale - The Skin Care Makeup
As the founder of president of her own beauty brand for over 20 years, Jane Iredale has definitely seen a shift in the beauty industry, as she notes that the message now reflects natural confidence, self, expression, female strength, and diversity. She credits the internet in spearheading this change, as consumers are now using social media as a tool to communicate with brands on what beauty means to them.
“When I started my company, impacting women's lives began almost immediately," says Iredale. “In those days, they let us know by phone; now it comes from all directions, including social media, texts, e-mails, and reviews. And it isn't just about the products, it's also hearing from single moms who've been able to keep a family together by selling our line in their workplace. There's nothing like the satisfaction in that."
Giving back is another part of how Iredale's company embraces female empowerment, as she is the largest employer of women in the Great Barrington area, where she works with dozens more through the company's international reach. In addition, her brand partners with Living Beyond Breast Cancer which raised more than $477,000 to help those in need.
But at the end of the day, Iredale says that girl power is all about giving confidence to others, as confidence can help a woman feel like she can conquer anything.
“It's all about confidence," iterates Iredale. “If you can impact that, and we do every time a woman feels better about the way she looks, then the girl power increases."
2. Angelica Fuentes, Entrepreneur, Businesswoman and Founder of A Complete
With the new wave of girl power defying normal beauty conventions, Angelica Fuentes argues that brands are responding to the message by adopting it into their own campaigns. A Complete is no exception, as the brand works with strong, empowering, and inspiring influencers of all ages and backgrounds.
“Our main goal is to show our customers and potential customers that there are no beauty stereotypes, and that gender and age are not something that define you as a woman," says Fuentes. “We believe that all women are marvelous and unique, just for existing, and we want A Complete influencers to reflect that."
In celebrating women, Fuentes' brand has definitely seen a lot of results. A Complete's Mother's Day campaign for example, partnered up with five different influencers of all ages and backgrounds.
“We have seen great results with female-forward marketing campaigns; they have been our greatest growth tool in the past few months," says Fuentes. “Campaigns that encourage women empowerment boost our sales, and considerably grow our social media platforms."
3. Carolyn Aronson, Founder, CEO and Owner of It's a 10 Haircare
Carolyn Aronson Courtesy of Home Business Magazine
Like Jane Iredale, Carolyn Aronson of It's a 10 Haircare credits a new generation of tech-savvy women to growing the message of female empowerment. Through these mediums, women are making their voices heard louder than ever before. Taking the reigns of the industry is another way Aronson sees female empowerment through beauty, as It's a 10 is one of the few woman-owned professional hair-care brands in the world.
“The beauty industry is interestingly mostly run by men, although its products are mainly marketed to women," says Aronson. “I'm all about handing the torch and not only putting women in positions of power, but hopefully inspiring them by example and sharing my path of experience for others to learn from. It's still a man's world, but every step towards women being given opportunities they didn't have before is progress."
Embracing diversity is another way Aronson's brand embraces female empowerment, as the brand caters to all women, regardless of their color or race. The brand's 2017 Super Bowl commercial clearly illustrated this message, as the ad focused on real-life women instead of airbrushed models.
“It's a 10 Haircare made history with our industry-first Super Bowl Commercial, which celebrated diversity," says Aronson. “I could have hired models for this, but instead I hand-picked everyday people I admired, and I shot the commercial in black-and-white, because real beauty doesn't need color. I wanted to show we are all perfectly imperfect in our own ways."
But despite the positive feedback from the recent big game commercial, Aronson assures that uplifting women has been and will continue to be a top priority from the brand.
“I recently bought out my male partner and it was one of the biggest moves I've made as an entrepreneur and brand owner," adds Aronson. “I answer to no board of directors. From the products we develop to the message we share, it is 100 percent done on my own terms, which makes every woman (and every person) feel like a ten."
4. Kay Zanotti, CEO of Arbonne International
Kay Zanotti Courtesy of Arbonne
Encouraging women to become financially independent is a big priority for Kay Zanotti at Arbonne International, as the brand's Independent Consultant sales force is 98 percent female. Zanotti sees this as a great way to empower women, as it gives them an opportunity to have their own business and create their own schedule.
“Our Arbonne Independent Consultants live and breathe the female empowerment message every day through their business of transforming lives with Arbonne's products and opportunity," says Zanotti. “There is no other brand I've ever worked on that inspires positive leadership and provides women, especially, the chance to truly own their lives and decide when they work, where, with whom and how. It's life-changing."
Celebrating Independent Consultants has also been the sole focus of the Arbonne brand's marketing campaigns, as Zanotti sees them as the brand's real influencers and celebrities. In focusing on individual success stories of everyday women, Zanotti sees this as empowering women through beauty.
“This is just one example of the kind of campaigns we do that share the message of female empowerment in a way that celebrates the success of the individual we're spotlighting, and at the same time it promotes the products and opportunity to other women who can relate to the stay-at-home mom or teacher or doctor or even the Amish woman from Ohio who have, each in their own way, started from scratch and built a business and transformed their lives and the lives of people they know," says Zanotti.
During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.
When I tried to chime in, I kept getting interrupted. At one point two individuals talked right over me and over each other. When I thought it was finally my turn, someone else parachuted in from out of nowhere. When I raised and waved my hand as if I was in grade school to be called on (yes, I had my camera on) we swiftly moved on to the next topic. And then, completely frustrated, I stayed on mute for the remainder of the meeting. I even momentarily shut off my camera to devour the rest of my heavily bruised, brown banana. (No one needed to see that.)
This wasn't the first time I had struggled to find my voice. Since elementary school, I always preferring the back seat unless the teacher assigned me a seat in the front. In high school, I did piles of extra credit or mini-reports to offset my 0% in class participation. In college, I went into each lecture nauseous and with wasted prayers — wishing and hoping that I wouldn't be cold-called on by the professor.
By the time I got to Corporate America, it was clear that if I wanted to lead, I needed to pull my chair up (and sometimes bring my own), sit right at the table front and center, and ask for others to make space for me. From then on, I found my voice and never stop using it.
But now, all of a sudden, in this forced social experiment of mass remote working, I was having trouble being heard… again. None of the coaching I had given myself and other women on finding your voice seemed to work when my voice was being projected across a conference call and not a conference room.
I couldn't read any body language. I couldn't see if others were about to jump in and I should wait or if it was my time to speak. They couldn't see if I had something to say. For our Microsoft teams setting, you can only see a few faces on your screen, the rest are icons at the bottom of the window with a static picture or even just their name. And, even then, I couldn't see some people simply because they wouldn't turn their cameras on.
If I did get a chance to speak and cracked a funny joke, well, I didn't hear any laughing. Most people were on mute. Or maybe the joke wasn't that funny?
At one point, I could hear some heavy breathing and the unwrapping of (what I could only assume was) a candy bar. I imagined it was a Nestle Crunch Bar as my tummy rumbled in response to the crinkling of unwrapped candy. (There is a right and a wrong time to mute, people.)
At another point, I did see one face nodding at me blankly.
They say that remote working will be good for women. They say it will level the playing field. They say it will be more inclusive. But it won't be for me and others if I don't speak up now.
- Start with turning your camera on and encouraging others to do the same. I was recently in a two-person meeting. My camera was on, but the other person wouldn't turn theirs on. In that case, ten minutes in, I turned my camera off. You can't stare at my fuzzy eyebrows and my pile of laundry in the background if I can't do the same to you. When you have a willing participant, you'd be surprised by how helpful it can be to make actual eye contact with someone, even on a computer (and despite the fuzzy eyebrows).
- Use the chatbox. Enter in your questions. Enter in your comments. Dialogue back and forth. Type in a joke. I did that recently and someone entered back a laughing face — reaffirming that I was, indeed, funny.
- Designate a facilitator for the meeting: someone leading, coaching, and guiding. On my most recent call, a leader went around ensuring everyone was able to contribute fairly. She also ensured she asked for feedback on a specific topic and helped move the discussion around so no one person took up all the airtime.
- Unmute yourself. Please don't just sit there on mute for the entire meeting. Jump in and speak up. You will be interrupted. You will interrupt others. But don't get frustrated or discouraged — this is what work is now — just keep showing up and contributing.
- Smile, and smile big. Nod your head in agreement. Laugh. Give a thumbs up; give two! Wave. Make a heart with your hands. Signal to others on the call who are contributing that you support and value them. They will do the same in return when your turn comes to contribute.
It's too easy to keep your camera turned off. It's too easy to stay on mute. It's too easy to disappear. But now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to stay engaged and networked within our organizations and communities.
So please don't put yourself on mute.
Well, actually, please do put yourself on mute so I don't have to hear your heavy breathing, candy bar crunching, or tinkling bathroom break.
But after that, please take yourself off mute so you can reclaim your seat (and your voice) at the table.