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Open Letter To Sephora-Listen To Black Women

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Sephora

To Whom It May Concern At Sephora:

This past Sunday in the year of our Madre Yemaya 2018, I decided to go to the Sephora at the Florida Mall here in Orlando. I believe that would be Store #412. I was super excited about my visit and my potential look for my tonight’s events. I was going to see “Black Panther” in my finest, black jumpsuit with the intention of effervescing all the way to my seat. My delight soon yielded to being annoyed and then outright pissed off.  Please allow me to thank your “artist” Mayra Rivera and the manager, whose name escapes me at the moment, for the shitty experience.

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I walked in and was greeted promptly by two smiling artists. They escorted me over to the makeup chairs and introduced me to Mayra. That’s how this typically works, correct? Cool. Moving on.

Here is where the events went left. I requested a black artist. Sephora hires a diverse group of artists so I didn’t think this was an unreasonable request. However, that was completely ignored. And as everyone in their nicest voices and fakest smiles tried to reassure me that, “Mayra is the top artist there and she’s been with Sephora for 8 years…”

I still didn’t get warm and fuzzies from her. In fact, she proceeded to speak to the artist next to her in Spanish, probably under the assumption that I wasn’t bilingual- which I am. That artist in turn tells me in English that she has seen her do black skin and how fantastic she was.

Sephora

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I responded in Spanish, “Eso no significa na’ a mi que me dices que es la mejor artista aqui.” crickets How rude! And so that we are clear, her own  makeup wasn’t very good. It’s cool to see her on Instagram with filters to balance color and density of the makeup but it’s a way different story to see that monstrosity under those lights. This is not a personal attack by the way. This is an observation.

Not wanting to be rude, I requested that she just do my eyes instead. Your shitty Wifi wouldn’t allow me to pull up my IG for bronzed smoky eye looks so I was forced to describe what I wanted. Oh, I also informed her that my number in Fenty was 400. Keep in mind, I was still not ok with your employees ignoring my request nor did they make any effort to accommodate me. She begins with my eyebrows. I say, ” I’d like a little definition but I want it to still look like hair.”

There is a trend in brows to look heavy and overdone especially with Instagram MUA’s. It’s the complete opposite of what I like. I keep groomed brows so what was really needed was a few pencil strokes and a little brow gel with  a little concealer to clean it up. If her ego hadn’t been so inflated she could’ve learned that but instead she drew heavy ass brows on me and then put a base which was supposed to be my skin color on my entire lid.  I, also, had to ask what color brow products she was using because I have red hair. As a professional makeup artist, that’s one of the first questions you ask if your client’s hair is covered. She dropped that ball as well.

Sephora brows

She walked away without excusing herself and then came back with the manager. Apparently, reducing her artistry down to my eyes meant that I couldn’t have the full 45 minutes unless I spent $50. I spent damn near $80 and was helped by the lovely Amanda. The manager told me that I would need to wait. Because now it wasn’t an issue of my request, it was Mayra no longer wanted to service me. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

And that’s when I looked in the mirror. DUDE! The brown on my lid had a yellow base and it was too light. I have completely neutral undertones except if I blush I turn red. Ray Charles could see this wasn’t a match. And my poor brows. I got up and asked for the makeup remover to clean my lids and I took a dry cotton pad to remove most of the product used on my brows. The manager replied, “You don’t like your brows?” 

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I, flatly, answered no and repeated to her what I told Mayra to do with my brows. I was, then, told that I would need to wait for a black artist and the black artist she asked to do my face said no. I was perfectly fine with that because she was serving mortuary realness with a touch of ashen black girl makeup circa 1983.

By this time, I was over your ENTIRE STORE!

Here are my issues and requests:

sephora rihanna

  1. It’s cute to pretend that the makeup industry has always been inclusive of black women with regard to color selections. We know better though. Up until 9/8/2017, when the “Queen of Getting Foundation Right for Black Women” Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty and I no longer had to buy Cover FX’s creme foundation in 80 and 100 to get the correct color- we were an afterthought. Your company and employees should know first-hand the importance of getting it right for black women with regard to makeup.
  2. Your customer service SUCKS. My concerns were never taken into consideration. If your artist had any common sense, she would have picked up the queues I gave her letting her know that I was no amateur. I just didn’t feel like doing my face. I had my first MAC pro artist card in 1994  when they were still based in Toronto and the cards were free. and before they were bought out by Estee Lauder. I know what the hell I’m talking about. Patronizing black women is NEVER A GOOD LOOK.
  3. I owned a luxury cosmetics brand which was featured in Huffington Post, Essence, and Latina Magazines. I was the first black-owned brand to be featured on Beauty Army. I, also, began shopping at Sephora US in 2001. I was a beauty and lifestyle writer for an international retailer. However, I didn’t think that I would have needed to pull out a business card from my Gucci bag to get decent service.
  4. I don’t want some half-assed apology and someone from corporate telling me that they will handle it. The next time- and there WILL BE a next time; I want to go into your Florida Mall location and expect your artists to be pleasant, open to constructive criticism and to have a broader skill set under their belts.

I did my research on Mayra Rivera. The artist who did all the black faces in your store. Ironically and unfortunately, her Instagram doesn’t show that at all. In fact, there were 2 women who looked like me out of 162 images. That is about .01% of the total number of her clients on the IG account. The contour was too heavy on the first. It was almost like bad drag and the second, she used a yellow based setting powderthat didn’t match the young lady’s undertones. A blue base would have been fine.

Black women have every right to walk into your establishment and be treated with respect and dignity. They both caught me on a great day. This is not only a personnel issue but this is a training issue. It is important that Sephora understands that whites from other ethnicities do not automatically know black skin or how to apply color theory. I suggest intensive bootcamps and improptu looks done staff first. Also, if your manager and staff are backing up this employee’s “black artistry card”- the very least she could do is have more than 2 black women on her social media.

I expect to hear from someone.I’m certain this was not an isolated event. I will be sure to report back if I don’t .

Do better.

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Negra With Tumbao
K. Araújo, a native Detroiter, is a cross between Claire Huxtable, Rosie Pérez and Millie Jackson. Widow, bruja, Oni Yemaya, palera,  professional dragger of filth and Mami to the dopest Ethiopian EVER, she is the Editor in Chief of “Negra With Tumbao”, Staff Writer for “The Urban Twist” and a freelance contributor for major publications like The Root, VSB, Huffington Post, My Brown Baby and The Glow Up. ​  ​She has been known to shake what her mama gave her, is the hell and high water, an expert salsera and cussologist with a penchant for the finer things in life and is and forever shall be- unapologetically black.

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