The artist behind all of Rihanna’s most iconic red carpet looks, celebrity hairstylist Yusef joined Glossy on Instagram Live on Friday to discuss his experience as a beauty entrepreneur with his newly launched hair-care brand, The Y by Yusef. During the talk, he shared his experiences in founding a brand and thoughts on what needs to change in the industry to better amplify black-owned brands. Below are just a few clips from the conversation, which can be viewed in full on Glossy’s Instagram Stories.
On inclusivity in the beauty industry:
“The direction is good. People just really have to follow through with it. Shoutout to Fenty Beauty for paving the way for that. Ri basically kicked the door down. That is something I’ve always thought was really important, for even me being a hairstylist — knowing how to deal with all textures of hair.”
On the investment gap for black-owned businesses:
“Lining up investments — please. There were none to line up. My hard-earned money went into my product line. It’s not easy to just walk into a room and be like, ‘Hey, I’m a black hairstylist, I want to develop a product line; who wants to give me $2 million?’ Nobody’s knocking down the door for that. I’ve seen a lot of my peers who are hairstylists and makeup artists who started developing a line, and two minutes later, it’s been acquired and now L’Oréal owns it and they’re millionaires.”
On the new campaign for retailers to pledge stocking 15% black-owned brands:
“I’m just not really about, like, people talking about it; just do it. You know what I mean? I think it’s a wonderful idea. I hope I’m in that number with my brand. And I just want it to be something that’s consistent, not just for the moment. Stock up these aisles. Get black hair brands from the bottom of the aisle, off the floor, and put them right at the top, so people can be equal and not less than. It’s just crazy. My goal is to go into these stores and be part of that market, and be on the top shelf, and stay there.”
On whether beauty brands are engaging in performative wokeness:
“There’s a lot of talk. I want to see the talk turn into action. I’m glad that it’s being brought up, but put these people in positions. Take them out, make them CEOs, make them actually have a voice in these brands. Just do it. Take it up a notch.”
On whether or not the industry is at a true turning point:
“It’s definitely a turning point. There’s no doubt about it. Whether people choose to believe that or not, it’s happening. Buckle your seat belt.
I’m definitely not saying baby steps — we’re taking big steps, and I’m definitely pushing people like me to get out there with their brands and promote their brands, and not worry about people acquiring you. Just invest in yourself as a beauty leader.”
On his favorite Rihanna hair looks:
“They’re all my babies. They’re all trendsetting works of art. We like to have fun, we like to create, we like to be expressive.”