Donna Dia on launching the UK’s only luxury beauty event for Women of Colour

After finding beauty industry events in the UK lacking in terms of diverse representation for Black women and Women of Colour, opulent events planner, Donna Dia decided to do something about it.

The Beauty Beat, a luxury beauty event for Women of Colour is coming to London on 3-4 December 2022 and is the only one of its kind. The sold-out event is supported by an impressive roster of partners in its first year including Instagram, Nars, Boots, Bare Minerals and the British Beauty Council. Speakers include Love Island star Indiyah Polak, Black Skin Directory founder Dija Ayodele and afro hair guru Charlotte Mensah with topics covering skincare, hair and aesthetics.

Professional Beauty sat down with Dia to learn more about the event, its goals and where she believes the industry needs to grow to better support Black women and Women of Colour. 

Kezia Parkins: Hi Donna! Please introduce yourself, The Beauty Beat and what you hope to achieve.

Donna Dia: I’ve worked in events for over 20 years, always in the luxury/creative space working with fashion clients, beauty clients and media. In the last few years, I have solely focused on beauty events producing them to an exceptionally high standard. Meanwhile, I felt like there was a disconnect between what I produced professionally and what I was attending personally at the few events that exist targeted to women that look like me… and so The Beauty Beat was born! 

The aim of The Beauty Beat is to deliver a beauty experience for women of colour that really centres and celebrates Black women and Black beauty. That is not something women in the UK have had access to up until this point. 

We want Women of Colour that attend to experience a very different few days to some of the other events they have been to. They will be able to shop, listen to some of their favourite creators of colour speaking about all the things that matter to us – hyperpigmentation, hair, the glow – the things a lot of Women of Colour, prioritise. It will be time on the beauty calendar focused and dedicated to Women of Colour and Black beauty. 

KP: Would you say that there are more of these types of events in the US?

DD: Absolutely! The availability and access to Black beauty experiences are just so vast in the US, the availability is more prominent there.

If I was in the US, I probably wouldn’t have a business because there is no gap in the market for something like the Beauty Beat. I don’t know if it exists in exactly the same iteration, but the budget spend for women of colour and Black beauty in the US is very different to the spend in the UK. I think it’s inbuilt over there…hopefully we will get there in the UK too. 

KP: How inclusive are current UK beauty events?

DD: I think that beauty events are very inclusive. Although, typically, when you have a hair segment, for example, you’ve got 45 minutes to discuss hair in general. That’s just time for hair in its own right, let alone if you’re then going to include afro or coily hair.

If I look at myself and my girlfriends there’s relaxed hair, braided hair, transitioning hair… there is so much diversity. 

Therefore at The Beauty Beat, we’ve got a hair segment that’s two hours long, and to be honest, that won’t be enough time. We have speakers from the likes of the amazing Charlotte Mensah talking about natural hair and Mary Adekoya about the incredible wigs she makes. 

That’s why an event that is solely dedicated to Women of Colour is needed, even though there is inclusion elsewhere.

KP: Do you think the UK takes full advantage of ‘the Black Pound’ or Black spending power?

DD: Research shows that Black women make up just 2% of the total UK population but 10% of the total hair spend. Women of colour spend billions on cosmetics every year, so that is a huge demographic for beauty brands to access and prioritise.

When I was in my 20s, and even early 30s, it wasn’t possible for me to go into a high street shop and buy foundation – I had to go to Selfridges, or Harvey Nichols so therefore foundation was always going to be more expensive than girlfriends [with lighter skin] who could pop into any store and buy theirs quickly and cheaply.   

That has changed dramatically in recent years but I think it’s meant that, for women of colour, it has become second nature to spend a little bit more.

KP: Please talk about some of the brands you will be working with – and why they are a great match for The Beauty Beat.

DD: Instagram was our very first partner which has been a phenomenal collaboration for year one. The Beauty Beat is still relatively unknown so this really helped with getting other brands on board. 

We’re also partnering with Klarna which I think is really important. Particularly given the financial crisis we are going into where being able to split the cost of beauty items and necessities may be helpful.  

In terms of the beauty brands, I went for brands I use every day. I have always used NARS for my base and I love the delicacy of Laura Mercier. We’ve got Cream of Nature which has always been in my bathroom and Caudalie which is undefeated in treating my hyperpigmentation. We have Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern – I love their heavy conditioner, and Healthy Hair Studio – a very small, black-owned brand I stumbled across accidentally and have been a convert ever since. 

Charlotte Mensah will be there speaking and for me, she is like the holy grail of hair. To have her speak on the panel is literally a dream. I feel really proud of all the brands and individuals supporting us.

KP: What would you say are the areas of beauty that have the highest unmet need for Women of Colour?

I can’t speak for the whole industry but for me, I would say events – I don’t think we have enough Black beauty events. 

Then I would say stores not carrying the full shade range. Sometimes, even though you know the brand has your foundation colour or contour shade, it’s not always in stock in every store which can be frustrating. 

Another thing is that sometimes when you go to counters and they do have the shade, the retail staff may not be familiar with either shade matching on my skin or they’re not familiar with hair products suitable for my hair. It’s a training issue around some staff, but certainly not all.

The Beauty Beat will be taking place at The Congress Centre in West London on 3-4 December. Online tickets are still available.


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