Courtesy of Sharon Chuter
During last year's #BlackLivesMatter protests, Sharon Chuter, founder of UOMA Beauty, noticed that many brands were making donations and sharing messages of support for the Black community but failed to reflect on how they directly contributed to racial injustice, and failure to enact real change. It's been nearly nine months since the founder made a social call-to-action by launching #PullUpOrShutUp and the Pull Up For Change campaign. Chuter demanded that the beauty industry and corporate America 'pull up' and publicly disclose the number of Black employees in their companies and leadership roles.
"I founded the non-for-profit to commit to advancing the economic wellbeing of Black communities around the world," says Chuter, whose initiative has now seen more than 300 companies, including MAC Cosmetics, Revlon, L'Oréal, Sephora and Estée Lauder, publicly release the percentage of Black employees within their workforce. This month, Chuter is shaking up the beauty landscape once again with the launch of Make It BLACK and the Pull Up For Change Impact Fund.
"The program partners with leading brands to showcase the beauty of Black and raise money to support the economic development of Black founders, foster more Black businesses, and create more Black employment."
—- Sharon Chuter
Nine top beauty brands, including Briogeo, ColourPop, Flower Beauty, Dragun Beauty, NYX Professional Makeup, Maybelline, and Chuter's own Uoma Beauty, have partnered with the fund by repackaging their most popular cosmetics in black casing. The limited-edition products are being sold exclusively online by the participating brands, Ulta Beauty and on Makeitblack.org, where the public can also donate directly to the fund. One-hundred percent of gross profits from the iconic black cosmetics will go to the Pull Up For Change Impact Fund.
hellogiggles - $18 Available at Ulta
Chuter hopes to give budding Black entrepreneurs the opportunity she never had. "As a black founder, and especially as a woman, no one took me seriously; they even suggested that I bring a white man to finance meetings with me to 'appease' the crowd—I refused and I think it has worked out pretty well so far," she explains.
"Black businesses are the most underfunded; in 2020 less than 1% of available capital went to Black-owned businesses; we have to look at why this is and how it can change."
—- Sharon Chuter
The focus of the fund is to issue grants to Black founders who are still at the friends and family stage and yet to raise any outside investment. "Sometimes, we have to make the opportunities for ourselves that no one is giving us," says Chuter. Brands will be selected via online pitch contests intended to fully democratize the process. The fund will not take any equity in these businesses and will not require grants to be repaid. "We intend to advance economic opportunities for the Black population and will continue to educate on important issues," says Chuter.
"The most important change that I have seen so far is the change in the mindset of Black professionals; we have seen a shift. Pull Up For Change and Make It BLACK are empowering the Black community, and that's going to cause the everlasting change."
—- Sharon Chuter