Championing Diversity In The Beauty Industry: Interview With ColorBlend Makeup

ColorBlend Makeup is an award-winning high-performance beauty brand catering to people of colour. The range is transforming representation in the beauty industry, and during lockdown founder Kesha Williams is bringing cosmetics to the comfort of your own home with one-to-one private make-up sessions. We spoke to Kesha about the past, present and future of ColorBlend.

Why did you create ColorBlend Makeup?

The brand launched in 2016 and I started it because I realised there was a gap in the market for cosmetics for women with deep and dark skin tones, and although we carry shades for all skin tones, I understood there was and still is a need for more products for the ethnic community – and this is what our brand represents.

The premium products in our range include:

  • ColorBlend Contour Palette – a gorgeous powder palette to highlight and define your features 
  • Deluxe Xtreme Lips – a collection of bold, delicious and long-lasting matte lipsticks 
  • Trio Concealer – a multi-use 3-in-1 concealer pot which is perfect for seasonal skin tone changes 
  • ColorBlend HD Foundation – a water resistant, non-transferable high-definition foundation containing ingredients that provide a nutrient rich boost to the skin 
  • Camera Ready Primer – perfect for prepping the skin prior to foundation application and creates a flawless, airbrushed look
  • ColorBlend Glossware – a collection of juicy lip glosses containing Vitamin E to maintain healthy lips

Why was it important to you to make ColorBlend Makeup a brand for people of colour?

Inclusivity is important for all skin tones but I think ethnic and brown beauties have been underrepresented for far too long, in terms of the choices available to them within the hair and beauty industry and also the media. ColorBlend champions the ethnic beauty consumer who has a need for representation, ownership and commitment from brands to maintain diverse product ranges (while not having to actively scope them out), along with strong brand ethics and values.

As an example, there are big brands who have very large foundation ranges – and yes, they may technically cater to all or most skin tones – however, as someone who has tried to purchase the deeper shades myself for my own research, they are rarely stocked on the ground. This isn’t a trend. We are here and deserve to be catered to with options just like our counterparts and ColorBlend is here to provide another option. 

We recognise our audience’s feelings, lifestyles, values, and our marketing and advertising efforts across all platforms reflect this too.

What’s your opinion on the state of diversity in the beauty industry right now?

Diversity has improved over the past few years but there is still a long way to go. Fenty Beauty has openly proved the need for diversity and inclusivity within cosmetics, but I feel those topics extend beyond foundations and colour choices. For example, having a diverse workforce can prevent backlash for brands. Without it, can brands completely understand their ethnic audiences – where they come from, how they feel, and how they like to be represented? Decision-makers behind the scenes within the industry should know that advertising can affect self-perception and also that racial diversity benefits everyone, which brings me back to my previous answer: ethnic consumers have a need for brands with ethics and values.

There are 1.3 million black women alone living in the UK that spend three times as much on beauty than any of their counterparts – and if we watched all of the beauty, cosmetics and haircare ads on mainstream TV from dawn until dusk, we may see that figure reflected in only one advert. There is room for improvement. 

How is ColorBlend Makeup being affected by COVID-19? Tell us about the free make-up sessions you’re currently offering during lockdown.

COVID-19 can’t stop us! The brand is engaging more online with its audience and consumers as we are not able to attend any trade shows or live shows, but the responses to our free private Zoom classes have been brilliant! These private sessions are 30 minutes long from the comfort of your own home. Our recent attendees have been interested in learning about perfecting their base using foundation and concealer, brow techniques, ombre lip looks, and contouring. Of course, we are all using video calling apps more frequently (for meetings and interviews) and I’m wanting us all to step out of lockdown looking and feeling more confident too!

Private make-up sessions are free until Saturday 9 May. If you’d like to book with me, please email at [email protected]. Come with the makeup and tools that you have! 

You did a Christmas pop-up in House Of Fraser in 2018. What was it like to be selling your products in a well-known department store alongside other brands that are traditionally not as diverse?

The Christmas pop-up at House of Fraser was amazing! Customers that had supported us at other live events made their way to Oxford Street to show their support. The event itself was one made to showcase brands of colour and I think the first of its kind at the store, so to be a part of it was brilliant. I met some great people there including a Harley Street doctor and dermatologist whose wife and daughter tried out the products then and there – he was impressed with what he saw and went on to make great referrals for me. 

When I first started the brand, I envisioned it within a well-known department store and to exhibit in a flagship store was a very proud moment for me.

Where would you love to see your range stocked?

I’d love to see the brand stocked in all locations where cosmetics are sold! Or maybe even our own glam makeup studio in the future. From small boutiques to large department stores and big online retailers, I see ColorBlend being physically accessible in popular physical shops such as Boots, Superdrug, Selfridges and Harrods, and online stores like Cult Beauty, Beauty Bay, Very, Boohoo and PLT. We’re working on it, so watch this space!

You are a trained make-up artist. Whose makeup would you love to do?

I love to do makeup, especially for those in front of a camera! I’ve dreamt about doing makeup for Charlene White, Alesha Dixon, Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Thandie Newton, London Hughes, Patricia Bright… the list is endless! In all honesty, I’d love to do the makeup of any woman that crosses my path – I just love the transformation process. 

What’s next for ColorBlend Makeup? Will you be expanding your range?

We’re hosting a series of live events on Instagram via my personal page (@iamkeshawilliams) and the ColorBlend Makeup page (@colorblendmakeup) throughout the lockdown in collaboration with makeup artists and stylists. We’ll be doing demos and answering makeup-related questions. I’ve never done a live before, so I’m super excited for those! Feel free to connect with me if you’d like to collaborate.

There are plans to expand the range for summer. The new products will be what our audience has been asking for: good mascaras, powders, a wider gloss collection, extended foundation shades and a few other special products.

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