How can companies become more including? Chrystelle knows.

Chrystelle talks about her experience in the industry, as well as how companies should do to actually become more inclusive.

July 6, 2020

How can companies become more including? Chrystelle knows.

Chrystelle, we love you. But for those who don't know. Who are you?

Ohh thank you. That's so sweet of you! I'm a 32-year-old married woman & mother of two dragons named Frank Cobra and Nixon Panther. I used to work in marketing but now I'm starting up a new business in fashion for POC. Other than that I also work as a fashion influencer and content creator.

You’ve been talking about how many creators and influencers haven't got as much attention or been differently treated because of the color of their skin. How does the influencer market differ for you as a black person?

I have always been treated differently because of the color of my skin in the influencer business. It's not necessarily to my face but when I compare myself and talk to my dear influencer colleagues of white skin tones I always realize that they are much more privileged than me. For example, I get underpaid in paid collaborations. A company can hire 10 different influencers where 8 of them have the same kind of followers which means the company will have a high exposure but to the same reach. I on the other hand have a totally different kind of audience so I bring a new kind of reach to the campaign but still, those 8 white influencers all get paid much more than me.

- "We're not looking for influencers with your kind of looks atm."

I have gotten all kinds of weird rejections throughout the years. A standard is: "We're not looking for influencers with your kind of looks atm." And then when the campaign lands you see that they choose all women with white features. Or when I used to be signed to a modeling agency and they only thought that I was only fitted for sports brands.

The last couple of weeks we’ve seen a huge increase in the participation of both companies and private individuals in Black Lives Matter. This is fantastic, but has also created a discussion on whether or not companies actually represent diversity and equality. How can companies for real, and not only to hop on a trend and look good, be more including?

I think they have to really do the dirty work. Before all of this, there has been a lot of change in the industry. You could see a shift in how brands cast their influencers and models. Not all brands of course but you could clearly see a shift especially here in Sweden. But if you look closer into those companies that cast POC you don't see any kind of diversity in the boards or in the management. You don't see people of color on the teams and if there are any it is just one or two. And that is the biggest problem. If you want to be a diverse company it's not enough to be so on the outside you have to live and breathe it all the way in.

When I talk to a lot of companies their excuse is that "there aren't that many POC in this industry" but the fact is that there are. A LOT OF US!

- So there is a start... Hire us!

Another thing is to just listen. I have heard and read to many stories from the biggest retailors lately of how racism, discrimination, bullying, exclusion and so much more goes on towards POC. Goosh even Anna Wintour’s dirty laundry has been exposed for the whole fashion industry to see and she has been pretty racist and mean to the few POC that have gotten through Vogue. So listen to people's stories and learn from them. Don't minimize or discredit people who are finally ready to open up and share their traumas. And work with these issues. Not just one time but ALL the time. This is not a simple issue, it has gone so far that it has become a part of our structure. So we have to tear a lot of structure down and rebuild the industry so that change is possible

Name three black influencers we absolutely can not miss

Oh there are so many out there that I love but here are my 3 topies:

  1. My minimalistic 90's queen @Sylviemus_. She has the coolest style and she is really warm and funny irl.
  2. @lalanana7 Nana Yaa is one of the most inspiring to me on the gram. She is so free and posts the most beautiful videos of herself dancing. The way she moves her body is just so calming and meditative.
  3. @abouaby Michelle Jeng is a friend and a beautiful woman from Stockholm. She has the most beautiful minimalistic pastel fashion style.

And your best brands with black founders?

Elsa & Sam is a Swedish kids store who thinks inclusivity in toys is important wich it is. I grew up not identifying with any toys or book characters så to now be able to buy my children representative toys I’m so happy.

Mixedgrill is a fashion brand for kids. They create clothes with beautiful and playful prints and colors.

Hair by Ingrid Alexandra She's a hairstylist that I can't wait to visit. I have seen and followed her work from the sidelines and she is really talented. I hope she comes out with her own hairline of products.

Thank you Chrystelle, for talking about this problem and putting it in a context that makes everyone understand. You inspire us every day!