The story behind Cosmoprof’s new Discover Black-Owned special area

By Ravyn Cullor contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cosmoprof North America is turning their Tones of Beauty special area into a Black-owned beauty focused area. © Getty Images -	CoffeeAndMilk
Cosmoprof North America is turning their Tones of Beauty special area into a Black-owned beauty focused area. © Getty Images - CoffeeAndMilk

Related tags: Cosmoprof north america, inclusive beauty, diversity, Black-owned, Skin care

Cosmoprof North America is launching a new special area focused on Black-owned beauty companies which has been years in the making.

While the show has had a “Tones of Beauty”​ special area in the past, Cosmoprof Head of Marketing Liza Rapay said she started rethinking how Cosmoprof North America should showcase inclusive beauty brands in 2019.

During her first show with Cosmoprof, Rapay said she felt the area could be elevated and look more congruent with the other special areas on the floor.

“I thought it was good, but I also thought there were some opportunities,”​ Rapay said. “At that time in 2019, I challenged the curator to do something different for 2020.”

Because of how quickly exhibitor spots sold and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new special area was delayed until the 2022 North America show.

Committing to showcasing Black-owned businesses

When she first approached changing the Tones of Beauty section, Rapay said she was looking to go in a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) direction. 

Because the special area had been focused on what consumers the products were for, not who owned the brand, she thought at the time the show could open up the area to more consumer groups.

Then, when Black Lives Matter protests broke out across the world following the murder of George Floyd, prompting larger conversation around race in the US, Rapay said her concept for the what the area should be changed.

“At first, I was thinking we need to shift to BIPOC, but then the movement for Black Lives Matter and then 15% pledge changed my opinion,”​ Rapay said. “I started thinking what I can do to elevate the concept?”

To figure out how to update the area, Rapay said she asked what makes a successful brand. With the conclusion that it’s contingent on an effective, quality and market-ready product, she brought on new curators and designed the Discover Black-Owned special area.

The area requires a business to prove they are at least 51% Black-owned. 

While Rapay said Cosmoprof was expecting to have around 10 exhibitors in the area, they have more than 20 already and are selling spots more quickly than some more established special areas.

The area is also being branded like the Discover Beauty and Discover Green Beauty areas, so Black-owned beauty looks more congruous with the other special areas.

Mentorship to B2B success

One of Rapay’s concerns in developing the new area was making sure brands were ready for a business-to-business show. 

She said many Black-owned brands usually do “cash-and-carry” at trades shows, so the brands who are accepted to the special area after vetting are also getting mentorship from Cosmoprof to prepare them for the show.

“What we've done with two new curators is give dedicated marketing and mentorship that the brands didn't get,”​ Rapay said. “We’re talking to them to make sure that they're not just in the kitchen being developed, and then just spend their money and come to Cosmoprof.”

Through vetting brands and finding those who are market-ready, as well as preparing approved brands for buyers, Rapay said she expects the area to perform well.

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