Black Women Leading the Beauty Conversations on Clubhouse

Though still in beta, there are now more than 10 million users on Clubhouse, the buzzy invitation-only audio app.

Launched in March 2020 by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse began booming in Silicon Valley. By May, there were 1,500 users on the platform, which was reportedly valued at $100 million at the time after receiving $12 million in a Series A funding round from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

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It’s now worth $1 billion.

Clubhouse grew to two million users in January, then in February — thanks to appearances by the likes of Elon Musk combined with Clubhouse offering users more invites to share — the number spiked to 10 million.

Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Drake, Kevin Hart and Zendaya are just some of the familiar names that have appeared on the app. Felicia Horowitz, wife of Ben Horowitz (cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz), is credited with helping garner buzz with celebrities early on by hosting virtual Saturday-night dinner parties.

Clubhouse is full of virtual rooms, where users chat daily in real time.

Reporter Darian Symoné Harvin, founder of Beauty Headlines (a club dedicated to beauty news), joined Clubhouse in August.

“It was a big deal when there were 50 people or 100 people in a room then and now that’s not hard to break,” she said. “There were music and marketing people, mostly. Not many beauty people.”

That is no longer the case. From clean beauty to K-beauty clubs, rooms attract hundreds, sometimes thousands, of audience members.

Tomi Talabi, cofounder of the Black Beauty Club, joined in October.

“First, when Clubhouse came out, it was all venture capital people, and then all of the sudden, there was this influx of people of color, Black people specifically,” she said. Her club has more than 25,000 members and over 5,000 followers.

As the app evolved, the Black community has been consistently present, leading talks, attracting a diverse audience and arguably helping grow traffic, though demographic breakdown is unknown (Clubhouse doesn’t collect demographic information on users, reportedly).

“It’s the diaspora from all over the world, and we’re all talking about our journeys with our hair and skin,” Talabi said of Black Beauty Club. “I think one of the reasons the club grew so fast is because people could really relate to the storytelling from all different people from all over the world.”

Makeup artist Michela Wariebi also joined in October.

“There were C-suite executives in beauty, icons in beauty, but nobody was talking about beauty,” she said. “They were in the venture capital rooms or social and cultural rooms, people like Ruba Abu-Nimah, the creative director of Revlon. Pat McGrath had an account but wasn’t saying anything.”

Wariebi started the Beauty Club on Clubhouse, which has more than 3,500 members and close to 2,500 followers, as well as Black Beauty Chat, with over 6,000 members and upward of 14,000 followers. Every Sunday, she hosts a beauty town hall.

“I got tired of hearing the tech bros talk, and we deserve our space, too,” she said.

The most popular beauty clubs are run by Black women, she added.

Makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran, founder of The Beauty Room (the app’s current largest beauty club with 47,481 followers), echoed the sentiment.

“Black women have been leading beauty conversations on the app,” Jaikaran said.

They’ve been curating rooms with brand founders, artists and adjacent industries like technology and social media, she added.

Black professionals and entrepreneurs in beauty are coming together to not only share stories but information.

“The Black community basically I think really spearheaded Clubhouse, because we were all looking for each other,” said nail artist Gracie J., creator of the Nail Shop Tea club on the app. “We were all talking about it and bringing our friends on there.”

Her club is a way to bring the nail salon experience online.

“We have impactful conversations about industry, life, mental health, but also my priority is to teach my peers to be better business-savvy entrepreneurs,” she said. “We don’t often think about the business side and the resources that you need.”

As the app continues to scale, monetization has become a popular topic of conversation. Some users are currently making thousands of dollars from sponsored content on the platform.

“I don’t think we’ve even touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of what people can potentially make on Clubhouse,” said Wariebi. Sponsors, brands and gatekeepers have the power when it comes to paid content, she added. “I think people are going to continue to do the work that they want to do, and how people come in afterward and who they acknowledge is definitely going to be telling as to who’s really committed to allyship and inclusion and who’s maybe just being performative.”

Davison addressed the subject of sponsored content on the app, explaining that he wants to “build tools to support that” such as “subscriptions in the form of club membership fees” and “direct payments for tipping.”

Recently, an influx of major players in beauty have joined the app.

“This year in January, there’s been a huge amount of industry people, people from LVMH, Barbara Sturm,” Talabi said.

“We actually now have a kind of back channel of all of the people who are doing all the major things in Clubhouse in the beauty space, and that’s Moj [Mahdara] of Beautycon; Pamela J. Booker, owner of Koils by Nature; Mimi Banks, who owns an influencer marketing company in the beauty space; Sophia Hong of [the club] The Skinthusiast,” according to Wariebi.

“Typically, the beauty community doesn’t talk to each other,” said Mimi Banks, creator of boutique agency MB Social. “The competition is so fierce….What we’re seeing now is more collaboration and conversation.”

On the brand side, Clubhouse is an opportunity to “be very informal and spontaneous with different audiences…and have live conversations, whether they’d be for crowdsourcing, for information, for telling brand stories or answering questions,” said Elana Drell-Szyfer, chief executive officer of ReVive Skincare.

“You can’t hide on Clubhouse,” added Banks. “You have to be you, and you’re only celebrated if you’re bringing value. Otherwise, people don’t want to hear from you.”

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