Ulta Beauty’s Latest Initiative Highlights the Most Influential Voices in Beauty

In the past year, the words “diversity,” “commitment,” “inclusion,” have been thrown around the beauty industry so much—spawned by protests calling for justice for the deaths of countless Black lives, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd—it likely elicits an eye roll each time a company employs the terms for a campaign or announcement. The racial injustices happening outside the industry held up a mirror to the injustices within the beauty space, namely the dearth of opportunities for Black founders and shelf space of Black-owned brands. Companies sang the same diversity tune but fell flat when it was time to take center stage to back up their words with actions. But there were a few exceptions. Enter: Ulta Beauty Muse.

Announced in February of this year, Ulta Beauty’s MUSE campaign is the beauty behemoth’s answer to its customers’ concerns about Black representation in its stores.

“With any DE&I initiative, we begin by opening the work with mindfulness around our blind spots as humans, deeper dive into guest insights, and an audit of the landscape and industry gaps. This allows us to better understand how we can make meaningful change without being insensitive,” Karla Davis, VP of Integrated Marketing at Ulta Beauty, tells ELLE.com. The company committed to an ambitious plan to consistently celebrate underrepresented brands within the industry, using MUSE as a platform to address the issues in the beauty space by dedicating “time, space, and resources to these important voices.”

Ulta Beauty’s MUSE—which stands for Magnify, Uplift, Support, Empower—will dole out $25 million in 2021 that will primarily focus on amplifying brands and expanding the Black-owned brands in their assortment. Among the company’s ambitious rollout plan comes its latest move—MUSE 100, a celebration of the most influential and impactful voices in beauty—launching today, September 22.

“We proudly debuted MUSE: Magnify, Uplift, Support, Empower, to celebrate, honor, and amplify Black voices in beauty and it lets us shine a light on bold, brilliant and beautiful Black people who have defied and defined limits. To me, a MUSE is an inspirational person who uses their voice to fuel their passion. They motivate, they drive change, they are fearless in their pursuit and strong in their conviction,” says Davis. “We are celebrating 100 inspiring Black voices in beauty. Debuting the MUSE 100 allows us to give these inspiring people a greater platform to reach and inspire more people and to continue impacting and influencing this industry.” With the launch of MUSE 100, Davis, who spearheads the initiative, says this isn’t just an opportunity but also “an obligation to help drive change in the industry and the world.”

To help narrow the list down to 100 honorees, Davis enlisted a group of tastemakers from each corner of the beauty industry who continue to support, uplift, and influence their communities through their respective work, including Ulta DE&I advisor Tracee Ellis Ross, Cosmopolitan’s beauty director Julee Wilson, co-founder of Melanin Haircare Whitney White and celebrity stylist Mecca James Williams. “The MUSE 100 recognizes a variety of merits including vision, leadership, and the ability to stimulate change, uphold values and champion inclusivity,” Davis adds.

Each honoree falls into 10 different categories: Makeup Magicians, Hair Raisers, Well Makers, Fearless Founders, Story Shifters, Luminous Leaders, Executive Excellency, Culture Creators, Style Setters, and Next Gen. Not only will they be featured on Ulta Beauty’s MUSE 100 website and socials, but honorees will be awarded a $10,000 grant to help support their mission and impact.

See the full list of Ulta Beauty MUSE 100 honorees below.

Makeup Magicians: Those making the world more beautiful – artists and innovators in makeup.

  • Dev Doee Makeup artist and chief creative officer of We Are Fluide
  • Raisa Flowers Makeup artist and model
  • Jaleesa Jaikaran Natural makeup artist and content creator
  • Renee Loiz Celebrity makeup artist
  • Kay-Lani Martinez Beauty content creator
  • Darius McKiver Makeup artist and content creator
  • Kenneth Senegal Makeup artist and storyteller
  • Uzo Ukaeje Director of global artistry for NARS
  • Michela Wariebi Makeup artist and educator
  • Alana Wright Emmy-nominated makeup artist

    Hair Raisers: Stylists and influencers changing the hair game one lock, braid, twist at a time.

    • Yene Damtew Celebrity hairstylist and salon owner
    • Vernon Francois Celebrity hairstylist and educator
    • Tiffini Gatlin CEO and co-founder of Latched and Hooked Beauty
    • Rochelle Graham-Campbell Content creator, CEO and founder of Alikay Naturals
    • Felicia Leatherwood Celebrity natural hairstylist and beauty speaker
    • Michelle O’Connor Global artistic director and hair stylist
    • Jewellianna Palencia Haircare guru
    • Lacy Redway Celebrity and fashion hairstylist
    • Pekela Riley Celebrity hairstylist, salon owner and educator
    • Myleik Teele CEO and founder of curlBOX

      Style Setters: Icons and trendsetters in in the fashion space.

      • Nana Agyemang CEO and founder of EveryStylishGirl
      • Kahlana Barfield Brown Fashion and beauty editor
      • Kellie Brown Content creator and founder of And I Get Dressed
      • Brandice Daniel Founder and CEO of Harlem Fashion Row
      • Naomi Elizee Market editor at Vogue
      • Gabi Gregg Style influencer and body positivity activist
      • Antoine Gregory Fashion consultant and founder of Black Fashion Fair
      • Hannah Harris Creator of Brown Girl Hands
      • Rajni Jacques Global head of fashion and beauty at Snap Inc
      • Kia Marie Stylist and content creator

        Well Makers: Leaders and founders celebrating the beauty of wellness and mental health.

        • Tai Beauchamp, Malaika Jones & Nia Jones Founders of BROWN GIRL Jane
        • Aeshia DeVore Branch Founder of Pretty Girls Sweat
        • Ivirlei Brookes Actor, entrepreneur, founder of Mavenelle
        • Dr. Jessica Clemons Board-certified psychiatrist
        • Alexandra Elle Author, certified breathwork coach and writer
        • Denise Francis Founder and CEO of The Self Love Organization
        • Camesha Jones Founder of Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness
        • Dr. Caroline Robinson Board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist
        • Millana Snow Entrepreneur and health and wellness coach
        • Trinity Mouzon Wofford CEO and co-founder of Golde

          Story Shifters: Those telling the stories of Black beauty.

          • Deanii Scottie Beam Media personality and model
          • Sesali Bowen Writer and body positivity activist
          • Keah Brown Author, writer and disability activist
          • Rachel Cargle Author, speaker and activist
          • Marjon Carlos Journalist, author and public speaker
          • Matthew A Cherry Film director, writer and producer
          • Michaela Angela Davis Writer, activist and cultural commentator
          • Akilah Hughes Writer, comedian, YouTube personality
          • Jari Jones Actress, model & LBGTQ activist
          • Jasmine Mans Poet and artist

            Culture Creators: Influencers, makers, and content curators driving culture today and tomorrow.

            • Luvvie Ajayi Author, speaker and podcast host
            • Brooke Devard Ozaydinli Podcast host and content creator
            • Alexis Feacher Content creator
            • Joshua Kissi Entrepreneur specializing in photography and filmmaking
            • Devin Norelle Nonbinary model, advocate and writer
            • Reyna Noriega Author, artist and educator
            • Laurise McMillian Content strategy editor at Refinery29
            • Lola Ogunnaike Entertainment journalist
            • Candace Reels Founder of the Female Collective
            • Karleen Roy Founder of The Vanity Group

              Luminous Leaders: Changemakers and entrepreneurs leading and lighting the way.

              • Sandrine Charles Co-founder of Black in Fashion Council
              • Sharon Chuter Founder and CEO of UOMA Beauty and Pull Up for Change
              • Erica Douglas Cosmetic chemist and founding partner of mSEED group
              • Char Ellesse Founder of Girls Will Be Boys
              • Bethann Hardison Fashion model and advocate
              • Aurora James Creative director, activist and founder of Brother Vellies
              • Candace Marie Social media consultant and founder of Black in Corporate
              • Shirley Raines Founder of nonprofit Beauty2TheStreetz
              • Nayamka Roberts-Smith Esthetician, LABeautyologist
              • Chrissy Rutherford & Danielle Prescod Brand consultants and founders of 2BG Consulting

                Executive Excellency: The bosses of beauty, movers and shakers making an impact in the industry.

                • Susan Akkad SVP, local and cultural platforms at Estee Lauder Companies
                • Kendra Bracken-Ferguson Founder of BrainTrust
                • Tiffani Carter VP Marketing at Thrive Causemetics
                • Erica Culpepper General manager at L’Oreal
                • Esi Eggleston Bracey EVP and COO of Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever
                • Ernest James Founder of Noire Management
                • Dana Oliver Senior director of content and communications at StyleSeat
                • Aja Robinson Global sales director of Fenty
                • Tomi Talabi Communications at Pinterest, co-founder of The Black Beauty Club
                • Tristan Walker Founder and CEO of Bevel and Walker and Company Brands

                  Fearless Founders: Those changing the face of beauty and taking shelves by storm.

                  • Keenan Beasley Founder and CEO of Suday ll Sunday
                  • Bea Dixon Founder and CEO of The HoneyPotCo
                  • Shontay Lundy Founder of Black Girl Sunscreen
                  • Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaye Founder and CEO of Ami Cole
                  • Jamika Martin Founder of ROSEN Skincare
                  • KJ Miller & Amanda Johnson Co-founders of Mented Cosmetics
                  • Yve Car Momperousse & Stephane Baptiste Founders of Kreyol Essence
                  • Ron Robinson Founder and CEO of Beauty Stat Cosmetics
                  • Monique Rodriguez Founder and CEO of Mielle Organics
                  • Janell Stephens Founder and CEO of Camille Rose

                    The Next Gen Muses: Emerging young Black leaders shaking up our world.

                    • Zandra Cunningham Entrepreneur
                    • Marley Dias Activist and writer
                    • Anya Dillard Activist
                    • Sage Dolan-Sandrino Artist, public speaker and activist
                    • Jalaiah Harmon Dancer, content creator
                    • Ziggy Mack-Johnson Stylist and designer
                    • Maya Penn Entrepreneur, animator and artist
                    • Andrea Reed Hair content creator
                    • Haile Thomas Speaker, youth health activist
                    • Youma Wague Founder, natural hair care

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