Following years of seeing little or no media coverage of beauty products for women of colour in the UK, rather than debate and talk about the issue of exclusion and diversity, Ronke Adeyemi decided to found brownbeautytalk.com, an online beauty platform for women of colour.
Earlier this month saw the site relaunched with a brand-new look and attitude. BrownBeautyTalk now features more beauty product reviews with a heavy focus on foundation, concealers and haircare. We recently caught up with Ronke to find out more about her business, her journey so far and her future plans for the much-needed platform for women of colour who are often invisible in the mainstream beauty industry.
With a solid background in PR, journalism and marketing, it was inevitable that writing would be one of Ronke’s passions, and she has put that talent to good use, publishing various niche magazines both online and offline over the years. When the blogging trend began 10 years ago, Ronke was right on it.
“I was struggling with my then website, technically. So, when the blogging thing took off I was right in there. The idea of creating a digital blog, blogazine or magazine was just too exciting.”
When Ronke started her website, it wavered between a blog and blogazine form. Now, she has re-launched and moved to full magazine mode, so viewers can see more video content, and engage with the topics discussed. Ronke also plans to take the brand offline.
Citing a marked lack of black and Asian faces and voices in the beauty industry for setting up the brand, Ronke is extremely passionate about all things beauty. She has a team of eight on hand to test and review the products to be featured on the site.
In recent years though, Ronke will allow that change is happening in the right direction. She said:
“We have gradually been seeing more women of colour included in large campaigns and becoming their ambassadors. At the same time, we have seen the launch and growth of small beauty brands by women of colour. Of course, there is a lot more work to be done, but we are getting there and steadily more and more brands are waking up to the news that black and Asian women do indeed buy skincare and makeup.”
However, Ronke feels that progress is slow with big corporations needing to adjust after years of catering to just one ideal of beauty.
“Big corporations need to treat us proportionately, we don’t need preferential treatments – we just want things to be equal. We need products that we can use, marketed to us in an engaging way.”
In a world where competing with bigger brands is the ultimate challenge, emerging black owned makeup brands need to stand out from the get go. With plenty of journalism and marketing experience behind her, Ronke notes three key focus points black owned brands should follow. She said:
“Branding and marketing. This is what sets aside your Rimmel London to your Chanel, packaging and positioning. Find a niche and hone it.
“Customer service. Always put the customer first and make sure their needs are met online and offline. Don’t forget to ask them what their needs are too. Ronke engages with her readers through a weekly twitter poll.
“Market research. Keep testing the market and ask your readers what they require from you and deliver it. I know this is easier said than done, but you need to make sure you keep ahead of the game.”
As well as devoting around 20 hours a week to BrownBeautyTalk, Ronke also has a day job working in a bank! When she isn’t working, she likes to put her feet up, watch some Netflix and chill out.
She is partial to a curry or lasagne, and when it comes to the best holiday destination she believes: “You can’t beat Paris!”
Makeup wise, Ronke won’t leave the house without lipstick or lip-gloss. It’s never easy to pick your top three beauty brands, especially when you edit a beauty platform, and your make-bag is half-full or overflowing with products. Ronke said:
“Oh my days that is so cruel. Just three? Bobbi Brown (you can’t go wrong with Bobbi there is always something for everyone. Clinique (great makeup and skincare). Simple, their skincare is so gentle yet effective. They have really worked hard to rejuvenate that brand.”
Ronke is optimistic about BrownBeautyTalk’s future. “The platform has so much potential and we’ve only just started. There are so many avenues for us to explore.”
We look forward to seeing the brand grow. For now, watch this space.