The session was moderated by Linda Wells, board member of CEW, founding editor of Allure, and Beauty & Wellness columnist, Air Mail.
“The results are constantly striving to achieve more, to open up the world in a better and bigger way,” noted Wells. She began by asking each awardee about their personal journey to beauty.
Susan Akkad, The Estée Lauder Companies, opened the discussion with her memory of a semester spent in Cairo, which “opened my eyes at 19”. Always drawn to the idea of culture and beauty, Akkad revealed how beauty, like a “happy accident”, merged around her ideas of culture and connection.
“It was anthropological,” she said, adding that she never expected to work with colored skin, as well as with ageless beauty. “I found something I didn’t know existed,” she said. Backed up by parents who were academics and activists, Akkad recalled a mantra shared by her father: “It’s really okay to be a little weird,” and with that, she said her career has combined a personal and professional passion, one that she calls the role of power ”, and it is what allows her to defend what she truly believes.
Sarah Curtis Henry, Christian Dior, also drew on the support of the family, noting that as a child she was taught “to walk a little taller and stand a little stronger”.
She said: “It was a parody that the beauty standard didn’t reflect my own family. I was lucky enough to have grown up in a family that taught me history. I learned that beauty is variety, different cultures and different standards ”.
In addition, he noted that it was important to learn that he deserves a seat at the table. Curtis Henry said a lot has changed, fortunately for good, in terms of what we see on the runway and in inclusive images. He shared the importance of ethics that was part of his upbringing of him. In recalling a recent outing at a restaurant in Harlem, he added:
“If you ever get tired, look at the African American girl there at the next table and know that you are inspiring her, I understand the weight of that seat.”
Nata Dvir, of Macy’s, drew on childhood memories of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and early bedding shopping excursions in Macy’s home department. After graduating from Syracuse University, she didn’t know retail was the right career for her, but a training project at Macy’s, during which she heard Terry Lundgren speak, urging her to “flourish where you are planted,” helped guide his path.
“Building relationships, building a following and having instinct continues to be a great source of pride for me,” said Dvir.
In describing her greater purpose, she said, “Knowing our clients and being able to lead and help, especially women, find their voice at the table is important to me. My attention to the client and to mentoring is what makes the difference “.
Nathalie Gerschtein, L’Oréal, shared how she wants to “move the needle” in the world of beauty and beyond. Her international experience in Thailand, India, Laos and Cambodia, and currently as President, Consumer Products Division, NA, L’Oréal USA, has illuminated her understanding of consumers’ diverse beauty dreams.
“Beauty is about confidence, self-esteem and self-expression,” said Gerschtein.
While conversations in India, for example, may be centered around hair; and the discourse in Thailand could focus on the skin; the desire for beauty is different for everyone.
“What’s universal is that beauty is a powerful force, it’s the way we express ourselves,” said Gerschtein. “While it always starts with the consumer’s needs, it’s really about meeting their dreams,” she said.
Wells asked what drives the desire for beauty, Gerschtein replied: “It’s about understanding yourself better and bringing inclusion into beauty. I try to push my teams to show the diversity and importance of beauty and to determine how to deliver the right products for different skin and hair, so science is key. “
Her parents taught her about life priorities, stressing that what makes you happy is what you need to do to be yourself.
“I love the idea that beauty is happiness and I know that every day I will put a smile on someone’s face. I want my daughter to know that beauty is playful, but also very deep. I want her to feel proud of me and I know it’s about finding a balance. It is also about giving a vision of what a woman can do. Providing the right product to satisfy women’s dreams is essential “. Gerschtein concluded: “My whole career has been about resilience, learning to dance in the rain, having a strong net and being a mentor.”
Mele Melero, Unilever spoke of the powerful force that Dove has become in contemporary culture. “Personally, as a mom of three daughters, I knew we needed a brand in Latin America, where I was located, that was representative and meaningfully responsible for young women,” she said.
She cited the Dove Body Wash campaign as an example, saying, “Last year we ran a campaign for Dove Body Wash and a woman with a birthmark pointed out to me that she was so happy to see representation in the campaign.”
Similarly, a breast cancer survivor, seeing a personal portrayal of Dove in a campaign, was similarly moved. “Yes,” Wells said, “she’s a soap, but she has this powerful message.”
She credited her parents in Argentina for stressing the importance of education, travel, and creating opportunities to open up and think.
“This is what I try to do with my daughters. I strongly believe in energy and family is a great source for me. Consumers and trends are another source of energy, as is contact with my team. “
Triggering change in the cosmetic industry
Melero says he uses his energy to bring passion into his work and spark change.
“This is my purpose. I like to think that the work I do at Dove helps to serve the underprivileged and helps people around the world, “she said.” I love beauty and the beauty industry and I believe we have the opportunity to become more relevant. and representative. Many things we take for granted in the US are not available in other regions, so working to drive change and uplift other women is important to me. “
Commenting on the work-life balance, Ilaria Resta, Firmenich, said she was honored to be the first woman to hold the position of president of a fragrance house, but also happy to bring my personal and accessible way to mine. work.
“The way you see me at work is the same way you see me at home.”
She explained that in her career she has experimented with opening and closing doors, studied classical languages, moved into the world of business and beauty; readily admitting it wasn’t planned that way.
“I’ve had a hard time along the way and have always questioned myself. Growing up, I realized that mental well-being plays a very important role, “said Resta. He has decided to be an empathic leader.” As leaders we should be open and ambitious. “
Fragrances and well-being play a role in creating a sense of pleasure, happiness, focus and focus.
“There are many studies on fragrance showing that it can go from pleasure and hedonic to additional benefits,” Resta said. “With biodegradable ingredients we can have an impact on communities, so I want to focus on the fragrance beyond their benefits, such as boosting confidence, lifting morale or putting us to sleep.”
Resta said he gravitates towards positivity and always sees the glass as half full.
“I always see that beauty has a positive impact,” she added. “I see it evolve, mirror and lead the equality and diversity agenda.”
Alexis Schrimpf, P&G Beauty, knew she wanted to be a designer at the age of 10. When she was 15, she observed her father in her dentist’s office and learned how to design a drill. She observed, then it was clear, that improving design would be her passion.
Holistic product design
When Wells argued that detractors suggest beauty products are all packaging, Schrimpf said it must be considered holistic design.
“From owning and purchasing a product, to disposal and recycling, it’s a holistic journey. Empathy for the consumer is at the heart of creating a package, “he explained.” I’ve designed for surgeons and people in the beauty category. It’s really about trying to understand how that consumer lives their life and providing what it needs “.
“I love consumer research and think about how I can deal with what people express when I hear their thoughts. I always sketch and pay attention to where consumers are underserved, ”she said.
Schrimpf co-created SeeMe Beauty, a line of skin care products for postmenopausal women. She claims that it enlightens women over 50.
“I can bring my experience to the products we create,” he said. When asked what her success means to her, she replied, “It means that I have impacted the lives of others with my projects. Helping others, whether it’s a better designed product or being inclusive of everyone, is the most important thing. “
Beauty guided by Uoma’s mission
Catalyst for Change Award winner Sharon Chuter, Uoma Beauty, was the latest participant in the program. Wells asked her how does a girl from Nigeria change the world of beauty?
With a quick smile and a quick reply, Chuter replied: “I’ve always talked and always wanted to be my real self. As a child, my nickname was Froggie, and it was a gift, because I knew I had to show mine. beauty that radiates from within, ”Chuter said. “If we can find peace and happiness in who we are, that’s true beauty.”
The Uoma brand is an inclusive beauty brand owned by black people. Uoma means “beautiful” in the Igbo language of Nigeria. The products and range of shades are inspired by Africa’s rich ethnic diversity, offering a broad line for a variety of skin tones and shades. The brand’s slogan expresses its position: “At Uoma we are empowered people. Our race is human, our people are free, our language is color ”.
Chuter is living out his mission, taking bold goals in step. For her, makeup is expression; how it communicates, whether it’s the eye of a wild cat or a bright red lip. The Uoma client, she explained, is ready to be himself. It is a brand that has put consumer voices first.
“Consumers are the creators of change,” he insisted.
Chuter said success means impact. It means paying it forward.
“Success has stopped being a question of money. It’s a weird thing, but if I can leave the world better than I found it, it’s a success for me, “she said.
His dream for the future is a world without labels. A world where people can be truly indifferent to things that make no difference, such as skin color or sexuality.
“Stop spending disproportionate time on things that don’t matter,” he concluded.