The largest US beauty retailer, Ulta Beauty has taken the 15 Percent Pledge. The pledge, which was founded by accessories brand Brother Vellies’ Aurora James, mandates that participants give at least 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands.
“This announcement is huge — and our partnership will have a monumental impact for Black businesses within the beauty industry. As we approach our one-year anniversary, we look forward to building on our momentum, expanding our partnerships and continuing to create opportunities for Black business owners,” James said in a statement.
Ulta Beauty Plan
Ulta Beauty’s formal partnership with the 15 Percent Pledge follows steady groundwork in this the divers inclusion direction; including an internal commitment earlier this year to double its assortment of Black-owned brands. (The retailer started at 13 and currently counts 20, halfway towards that goal; newcomers, including the cosmetics line Mented and Black Girl Sunscreen; have joined brands like Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross, who serves as Ulta’s diversity and inclusion advisor.)
As explained by Ulta Beauty’s chief merchandising officer Monica Arnaudo; this effort is a multi-pronged approach that goes beyond simply clearing shelf space for new brands. “It’s not just, ‘Okay, We launched it and we’re done.’ No, we’ve got to build that ecosystem to continue to support,” she said.
A team dedicated to emerging brands is helping smaller lines navigate the terrain from direct-to-consumer to nationwide retail. Ulta Beauty has earmarked $4 million in marketing funds specifically to highlight Black-owned lines. “The work for us is showcasing these brands because to drive that equity, we’ve got to drive guest acquisition,” Arnaudo said. “That’s going to build the brand—that’s wealth generation.”
Ulta Beauty is also committing about $20 million to media investments on multicultural platforms; and they have also funded quarterly trainings for sales staff around unconscious bias and inclusivity. However shoppers can expect to see products for curly and coiled hair rightfully getting the front-and-center treatment, “really the work is behind the scenes,” added Arnaudo.