During a Zoom session hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design titled “Pass the Mic: Conversations with Black Creatives – Black Beauty Matters,” HWS Trustee Linda D. Arrington ’88 joined a panel of beauty industry professionals to discuss their formative experiences with the concept of beauty, historic and contemporary attitudes about what is considered beautiful, why representation is important and the actions needed to make the industry more inclusive.
Arrington is the former global brand manager and head of marketing of the RODIN olio lusso brand at Estée Lauder Companies. Other panelists included Sarah Curtis Henry, chief marketing officer at Japanese beauty brand Tatcha, and global makeup artist, activist and producer Sir John. The panel was moderated by Julee Wilson, beauty director at Cosmopolitan magazine.
Arrington, who observes brand response from both a marketing and business perspective, considered the authenticity of various responses to the Black Lives Matter movement. “We are in a watershed moment and change is accelerating at a super rapid pace around this,” she said. “But having said that, brands need to be super careful, super thoughtful, very authentic and sincere in how they communicate — not just appropriate in a cultural movement as a flash trend.”
Beginning her career in the finance industry, Arrington later pivoted to beauty. During the panel conversation, she reflected on the arc of her career and challenged the ethos that “showing up early or working twice as hard” adds up to success for all Black women. “The caveat to that is, you’ll be lucky if you get half as far,” she said “So, you have to work twice as hard to be lucky to get half as far. But I do think that we are at a seminal point where now we have an opportunity to get access, because of what’s going on.”
In offering advice to young professionals and women of color, Arrington said: “When you are at the table, when you are in the room, understand what your brand is, understand what your value add is and make sure that you don’t leave that room without people knowing the three things that you want them to know about you. And be consistent with that. But also know to read the room … Just because you’re in the room doesn’t mean that you have to always contribute. unless you’re moving the needle and solving a problem.”
Watch the event here.
Arrington has been a member of the HWS Board of Trustees for 19 years. She has participated as a panelist in the Multicultural Networking Conference and as a keynote speaker for past NYC Fashion Experience career trips facilitated by the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education. After graduating from HWS with her B.S., Arrington earned her M.B.A. from Columbia University.