What Beauty Entrepreneurs Want The Next President To Do
Late Tuesday night, the winner of a close presidential election in the United States wasn’t determined. While former Vice President Joe Biden had captured 227 electoral votes to President Donald Trump’s 213, according to The New York Times, a candidate must secure 270 electoral votes to take the presidency. No matter the winner, beauty entrepreneurs have a list of demands they’d like him to address. To learn about their demands, we asked 21 of them the following question prior to the election: What do you want the next president to do to help your company and the beauty industry more generally? Here’s what they hope either Trump or Biden will get done in office to foster the business of beauty.
- Ellen Rucker Sellers Co-Founder, Rucker Roots
Small businesses are suffering right now. Many businesses are worried about financial hardship due to prolonged closures, the lack of guidance when it comes to reopening, and so many that were temporarily closed due to the pandemic will not reopen.
The main thing we as a small business would tell the next president is that we are the backbone of the American economy. Instead of focusing on the stock market and banks, the focus should be on small businesses. History shows when small businesses and mainstream thrive, the economy thrives. As well as more relief for women, in particular with school closings, it is more difficult for women to care for their children and businesses.
- ROMAIN GAILLARD Founder, The Detox Market
Big picture for retail, I would ask him to look into dismantling Amazon. I do believe that the dominance of Amazon on e-commerce, fueled by Amazon Web Services profits, is a real threat of the "biodiversity" of the indie community. Competition is important to keep a market healthy. From a sustainability perspective, I would ask him to implement a carbon tax that would force companies to take into account the impact they have on the environment.
- Tiffany Brown Founder, Bathe Brand
I would ask the president to take a real look at the barriers to funding equality for Black women in business, and urge him to prioritize programs and initiatives that invest in them. Many Black women with new beauty startups simply do not receive adequate resources or support. These practices must change to ensure better outcomes for Black-owned beauty companies and real equity and inclusion in the beauty industry.
- Anthony Shook Co-Founder and CEO, Foster’s Lab
To whoever becomes the president of the United States in the 2020 election, I think small and new businesses should be one of their main focuses. We saw a shift to entrepreneurship in 2008 and 2009 when companies stopped hiring and individuals needed to get creative on how to start their careers, and I think, with the global pandemic of COVID-19, we will again see a big uptick in entrepreneurship.
In the beauty industry, it will be important to keep shipping efficient and affordable, which is an issue for the United States Postal Service since so many brands rely so heavily on it to keep shipping costs low. In addition to ensuring the USPS system stays intact and efficient, I would really like to see more tax breaks and loans for small and new businesses.
Many beauty brands have multiple suppliers when creating even a single product, so tariffs and issues with U.S. customs can have a negative impact on getting new or existing products to market. Unlike large companies, smaller or newer brands have less capital to endure setbacks, so it is important that they can get financing and have relief from things like tariffs imposed on imported goods like packaging or chemical ingredients from Asia.
- JEANNIE JARNOT Founder, Beauty Heroes
First and foremost, I would tell our leader to focus on increasing testing. We hear a lot about a vaccine, but not a lot about increased rapid testing. In our area, test results are still taking a week to get back, which can be really challenging to manage around if there is a potential exposure. Rapid testing is so important in containing the virus. I honestly thought that, at this point, we would have much easier access to rapid testing.
Second, we need to make sure we are communicating the importance and seriousness of the pandemic to keep cases from rising back up and forcing another shut down. Another shutdown will be catastrophic to businesses, and the leadership at the top needs to set the tone. Last, speaking as a business owner that has not laid off any staff during the pandemic, I would tell them that small businesses need meaningful support in order to get us through to the other side. Relief funds are helpful and have enabled us to keep our team employed, but we also need some tax relief into 2021 and 2022.
- Purvisha Patel Dermatologist and Founder, Visha Skincare
In true capitalistic form, the beauty industry is bombarded with brands old and new with promises, scare tactics and false advertising to increase their sales. I would ask for increased regulation on verbiage used to the public so that claims of results come with scientific data and studies. The terms "natural" and "clean," for example, are not regulated and misused to mislead consumers. I would ask for advertising regulation so as not to deceive consumers. There should be disclosed COI (conflict of interest) when celebrities and influencers recommend products that is clear to the public as they are getting paid to advertise.
- Jummie Ogunyemi Founder, Glammed Naturally Oil
I will encourage the president to embrace equality in every turn, and use his vast influence and power to bring back America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. He should have programs to support local and small businesses. With his support and unparalleled leadership, we can capitalize on the ideals that truly make this a great nation for everyone.
- DANUTA DUDEK Founder, Cotarde
We are a travel skincare brand and provide products for active people on the go. Since basically all the travel stopped in March, we’ve been heavily impacted, but, while the big corporations got their financial support, we received nothing. Two words: Speed up! Better late than never though. This is the time to get a broader view on all types of enterprises, so start helping out small businesses which, without such support, are under a constant threat of not surviving this challenging time. That’s what’s much needed right now.
Equally important, though, with a long-term outlook, is to create clear federal policy executing science-backed requirements when it comes to mask wearing, social distancing, testing procedures, etc., in variety of situations across all of the states in order to ensure that people feel safe enough to go places again and not worry about, "What if I get stuck somewhere?" Clear directions as to what to do when traveling within the U.S. and beyond would be helpful.
It feels like there is a lot of misinformation and unanswered questions. There should not be at this point, especially now when another wave of COVID cases is inevitably coming along with the winter months. Process the data and communicate clearly. Don’t mislead. Without it, we won’t get much further.
- EVELYN SUBRAMANIAM Founder, Bija Essence
We trust that you will work hard to support the lives and jobs of all American people. Firstly, we need to eliminate or control COVID so that we can get back to work freely as before this pandemic. Bija thrives in national and international trade shows, fairs, exhibitions and holiday shows. But, today, they are canceled due to COVID.
We need more affordable rapid testing so that we may feel safe in our work environment. We need to appoint more diverse women to major positions in the government nationally and locally so that we can feel supported across the board. And, finally, we need policy to support small and micro businesses so that they can survive during unprecedented times such as COVID. The first businesses to disappear were micro businesses, and they may never come back. Additionally, we need a congressional mandate for the SBA to certify a certain number of minority-owned businesses per year to help them scale.
- Yewande Masi Founder, Ornami Skincare
I think about a lot of the statistics regarding small businesses being responsible for the largest percentage of new jobs. The beauty industry will be have $800 billion market value by 2023. That’s a lot of potential new jobs! And women continue to lead as new entrepreneurs. However, there still seems to be a large gap with funding for these businesses. In addition to lack of funding, there’s a general lack of access to business and human resources that can make one more likely to be a successful entrepreneur.
I would ask that they make smaller business loans (<$25,000) with moderate interest rates more accessible and remove some of these strange loopholes that make it very difficult for most businesses to qualify. I would also ask that they provide programs for advisory support with a focus on consumer packaged goods. This type of counsel would make it more likely businesses will be successful. There’s a lot of focus on tech and health life sciences. However, people are still buying physical goods, and this space often gets overlooked.
- CALVIN QUALLIS Founder and CEO, Scotch Porter
Minority-owned businesses, specifically Black business owners, have overwhelmingly needed and requested access to funding during the current pandemic. More than half of these businesses may not survive, and many have already been forced to close up shop, with about 80% of these businesses needing less than $100,000 to stay in business, according to a recent survey. There’s an immediate need to extend emergency funding programs that provide tax waivers and deferrals, rent relief and much-needed cash assistance to weather the current storm.
- ADODO ROBINSON Founder, Delali Robinson Cosmetics
Hopefully, we will have a peaceful [transition] after Election Day. I want the new administration to truly engage and put regulations in place to address the discrimination, lack of funding and segregation that people of color experience when looking for funding to start, create and maintain businesses. Small businesses that generate less than $200,000 should not be taxed the same as big corporations and definitely not classified the same when it comes to applying for resources.
I would like to see a more favorable action plan to help bring back my industry because, as a salon owner and licensed cosmetologist, small businesses like mine really need the funding and support to stay open. In general, we need the new administration to put a plan of action in place to regulate toxins and chemicals in our beauty products, food and packaging. Reduce our waste footprint and balance the ecosystem for a better future.
- Donagh Quigley Founder, The Handmade Soap Company
I think whomever wins needs to restore a bit of dignity to the position and the intention to unite rather than divide. This will only help the world in general and so will ultimately be good for business.
- ROB HARMON Founder, Magic Beauty
A large part of fixing the economy is stabilizing small businesses. For those of us who rely on USPS for almost everything, the current downfall of mail delivery is very destabilizing. I don’t know what you have to do or how, but you’re going to have to fix the postal service.
- PAAYAL MAHAJAN Founder, Essential Body
I’d like to see federal level standards regulating the beauty industry. Compared to the size of its domestic market and exports in beauty, the U.S. has very low standards and regulations that hold the industry accountable. California has begun this fight, but regulating cosmetics and skincare at the federal level will create a unified system both from the perspective of formulation safety and forcing global brands towards stronger compliance.
- Randa Fahmy Founder, Makeup America!
Here is what I would say to the next president of the United States: Now more than ever due to COVID-19, consumers are seriously looking at how and where their beauty products are sourced. They want safe, healthy, regulated, high-quality products, especially since cosmetics and creams can be quickly absorbed into the skin. But did you know that many American beauty brands do not make their cosmetics in the U.S.?
This became readily apparent during COVID, when many beauty brands experienced severe supply chain disruptions due in large part to their sourcing and manufacturing locations. And when beauty products are not made in the U.S., there’s no guarantee about their ingredients, whether they test on animals, follow health and safety regulations or practice quality control in manufacturing. Especially now in the age of COVID, the conscious beauty consumer would be well served by beauty brands that strive to ensure quality, health, safety and integrity in the manufacturing, labor and testing environment.
Bringing beauty manufacturing back to America makes smart business sense. Our health and safety may very well depend upon it. During your campaign, you emphasized the importance of made in America. You can help the beauty industry in America by promoting made-in-America products ensuring the health, safety and well-being of the American consumer.
- Thai-Anh Hoang Co-Founder and CEO, EmBeba
I want the next president to focus on getting COVID under control so more folks can go back to their normal lives. This, in effect, means parents going back to work, less worry about their job stability and returning to pre-COVID activities. This will lead to more discovery opportunities for independent brands and products.
As a business owner, I would like to see more grants to support women's businesses to get them back on track. I also would like them to keep working on updating FDA guidelines for the beauty industry and have clearer guidance on natural, organic and clean. We follow the EU guidelines and a variety of industry best practices because of the lack of clarity. It also confuses our consumers on what brands to trust.
- REUBEN DRIGGERS Founder, Bellasonic Beauty
Regardless of who wins, the next president needs to make managing the COVID-19 pandemic the top priority. The main reason is because saving lives matters. With respect to business, the mixed messaging from politicians and pandemic experts, and all of the uncertainty around the future of this virus makes business unpredictable.
- VALERIE GRANDURY Founder, Odacité
The only thing that matters is that we protect this planet and all its living beings. Be the leader of a green revolution, one that will inspire the world, one that creates jobs and a booming economy, one that brings us together in a common goal of creating a planet where we all can thrive.
- John Cascarano President, Beast Brands
Don't worry about me or any individual sector for that matter. Do what's best for the people in the U.S. and the world economy overall long term.
- ANDREW SOTOMAYOR Makeup Artist and Founder, Oracle Jayne Station
I would like the next president to know how critical arts are to the American economy. Spending as much time at home as we all are these days, we've watched more television and movies on the small screens than ever before, but the hundreds of thousands of people who work in film and television have been out of work for months.
We have to incentivize and support the artists who keep Americans inspired, uplifted and entertained. That's critical to the fabric of our society and for restarting the economy. While I'm an Emmy-winning makeup artist and three-time nominee with 18 years in the business and major clients, even my career has taken a complete stop. My heart breaks for those who were already struggling before coronavirus was let out of hand and who have an even bleaker future ahead.
I want to point out also that the arts are often the first programs to be cut from education, charitable initiatives or government funding, and this is a disastrous move for any local or national economy. The truth of the matter is that big businesses will only attract the best employees to their cities if there are museums, music and cinemas to keep people entertained on their days off. Kids stay in school and get better grades and are less likely to get in trouble if they have after school arts programs.
And arts industries don't just employ artists. They are hubs. Earlier this year, I designed makeup and tattoos for "West Side Story" on Broadway. We had almost 50 actors, dozens of crew members and musicians, and that was only one of 41 theaters on Broadway! Plus, there are hundreds of waiters and bartenders working at surrounding restaurants and bars, and millions of people shopping at stores in or near Times Square. We're talking about thousands and thousands of jobs tied just to the Broadway theater industries alone. More people see Broadway shows every year than attend the games of every single New York sports team combined. Broadway employs more people than the entire coal industry!
I want the next president and everyone in Congress and at the local level to join the Americans for the Arts proposal to "Put Creative Workers to Work.” This is not about handouts. This is about creating jobs. Over 1,600 organizations have already endorsed it and are watching to see whether their representatives will do the same.
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