Sharon Chuter Is Having Beauty’s Most Uncomfortable Conversations
I’m going to answer very honestly even though it’s going to be controversial. My treat is marijuana. If I’ve had a good day, that’s what I look forward to. I can’t wait to go home and eat an edible and just relax. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I was at a point when I could not move, and an edible will literally kill my pain, which is why I will not stop advocating for the legalization of marijuana. It is phenomenal in its healing power.
What’s your go-to thank-you gift if you’re sending one out?
What is your typical email sign-off?
If you weren’t the CEO of your own beauty brand and a power player and activist right now, what do you think you’d be doing?
If I wasn’t doing all of this, I would be a stoner on a beach with a lot of animals. Literally. Definitely.
When did you decide to launch your beauty brand? Can you take us through the journey, like, the moment when you realized it was time to do it?
I made the decision at the end of 2017, and I decided to do a beauty brand and was only going to launch [direct to consumer] so that I could learn e-commerce. I started it and never looked back. And the first three, four months of the brand, whereas other founders sort of develop product and then backtrack the branding into it, I just worked the brand: What are the brand truths? What are the beliefs? What are the values? What are our nonnegotiables? What is our point of parity and point of difference? So all of that existed even before I started bringing product into it so I knew my messaging, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and then it was, “Okay, how do I build this into a beauty brand?”
At the time, what I’ve done—taking activism and bringing it into beauty—hadn’t been done on a commercial scale. Even brands like Fenty, there wasn’t really activism in there. They weren’t having the tough conversations about white people, Black people, racism, and discrimination. They weren’t going there because beauty’s supposed to be this feel-good escape from reality, so whereas every other brand came and talked about inclusivity, dropped shades, said everybody can buy it, and walked away from all of the tough conversations, I was creating a beauty brand and talking about all of the uncomfortable things.
Were you nervous, having worked in beauty, knowing you don’t talk about bad things in beauty? Were you scared making that jump?
No. Not at all. I knew I was going to be penalized. I didn’t think the brand was going to be as successful as it is right now, and I didn’t think it was going to go mainstream instantly, because I thought that the market wasn’t ready, but I was not willing to compromise. Even when the first article that was written about my brand was scathing: “Great product, nasty and divisive messaging. It’s post-inclusive. It’s elitist. It’s this, it’s that, it’s such a shame because the products are good.” At that point, everybody said, “Drop this messaging. We told you it’s not going to work in beauty. Beauty is not a space for this kind of conversation.”
Published at Fri, 22 Oct 2021 17:00:00 +0000