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


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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.

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

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

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

          Story Shifters: Those telling the stories of Black beauty.

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

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

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

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

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

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