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The Brown Beauty Co-op Pens Open Letter to Sephora

(Press Release Courtesy of The Brown Beauty Co-op)

Today, in an open letter to Sephora, the owners of The Brown Beauty Co-op, a beauty boutique for women of color, based in Washington, DC, called on the company to release the number of Black people who are employed at the senior management, corporate level. As part of the #PullUporShutUp campaign, created by Black beauty mogul Sharon Chuter and promoted by beauty influencer Jackie Aina, Sephora released data saying that Black people make up 6 percent of their leadership team, including store and warehouse employees. These figures did not however outline how many Black people are actually in their corporate headquarters serving in executive level positions.

In addition, the Co-op is calling on Sephora to release an updated diversity plan for how to ensure fair treatment of Black and Brown customers in their store. The brand was marred by stories last year from celebrities like SZA and Leslie Jones, who both reported mistreatment and disrespect while shopping. While their stores closed down last year, for an hour long training, it remains unclear whether the company has implemented training that goes beyond that one hour that would ensure similar incidents don’t continue to happen.

Post COVID-19, the company was also recently called out for “unceremoniously” firing workers via a conference call and a New York Times op-ed highlighted the unfair treatment of the company’s part-time workers.

“Ironically, many people love to call us ‘The Black Sephora,” said co-founder of The Brown Beauty Co-op and founder of Marjani, Kimberly Smith. “But we created The Brown Beauty Co-op because of bad experiences we had in other mainstream beauty retailers including Sephora. Our goal has always been to celebrate and empower women of color and ensure that they feel like valued customers, not a niche or side-bar market. You see that in everything we do, from our in-store merchandising, our events to our selection of brand founders.”

(Present Day: The Brown Beauty Co-op vs Sephora; Northwest, Washington, D.C. -- Photos Courtesy of The Brown Beauty Co-op.)

“The ‘Pull Up Or Shut Up’ campaign is a great start, but beauty companies need to do more than a simple Instagram post that shows performative activism,” said Amaya Smith, co-founder of The Brown Beauty Co-op and founder of Product Junkie. “Even going to their website right now, there’s very little home page presence on their commitment to change in this moment. We are a small and growing brand with only one location, but our voice and community is widespread. Many of our customers will continue to shop at Sephora, so we want things to be better for everyone.”

“We understand Sephora has partnered with National Black Justice Coalition, to work on issues facing the Black LGBTQ community and this is a great start,” said Kimberly. “But we challenge them to do more now and to release who is in their corporate leadership as well as what they have implemented in the way of change since their retreat last year as well as their plans for the future. We at The Brown Beauty Co-op are committed to creating a beauty space that is equitable for all and we are committed to working with anyone who wants to do the same.”

For more information on The Brown Beauty Co-op, follow the "Washington, DC store that has made beauty for women of color its priority" on Instagram @thebrownbeautyco_op or visit


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