GRL IN PHOTOS - LARA ADEKOLA
Name: Lara Adekola
Where You’re from: Born and raised in Minneapolis. Lived in NYC the past 7 years. Currently in SF.
Occupation: Beauty Expert. I've always had a hand in beauty and media, whether its writing about beauty trends and tips for publications like Teen Vogue, managing Allure's social media accounts, and most recently marketing for Fenty Beauty.
As a Black woman, how has working in the beauty industry shaped or influenced what your idea of beauty is?
“From a young age, I always wanted to work in the beauty industry because I never saw girls who looked like me in magazines or on T.V.. Seeing yourself represented has so much influence on your sense of validation and self worth as a child. I wanted to disrupt that lack of visibility and showcase that black beauty is diverse - it can be dark, light, skinny, curvy, etc, it’s not a one size fits all. The beauty industry has perpetuated Eurocentric beauty standards for so long, but now thanks to technology and social media, the tide is turning. There is so much beauty in blackness, in our multitude of skin tones, curly, kinky hair textures, our full features. Working in the industry has made me appreciate my differences instead of trying to fit into a beauty standard designed to exclude me. Being authentic, owning your identity, taking pride and having confidence in the things that make you stand out, that’s what beauty is to me.”
What is it like working for one of the most progressive and inclusive beauty brands on the market?
“It’s really empowering to be working for a company that truly strives to be inclusive and actually is. Their mantra is "beauty is for all." It’s not a gimmick-- it’s very real. The launch with 40 foundation shades was a wakeup call to the industry that there are tons of underserved women with incredible buying power, but most companies hadn’t gone that extra mile to get the undertones right. I believe it set the path for other brands who've now followed suit by expanding their shade range.”
If you could change 3 things about the beauty industry what would it be?
1. Representation matters! I want to see a conscious effort by the industry to represent people of color in all aspects of beauty. Beauty should be diverse and reflect what the world looks like. And this does not mean a few token girls sprinkled into a campaign because it’s trendy. This means on the runway, magazine covers, commercials, ads, and in the boardroom meetings too. Women of color should be part of the conversation, providing input in product development, testing products, and guiding campaign strategy, so there is less opportunity for culturally-insensitive mistakes.
2. Embrace women with natural hair and actually learn about the history and culture of our hairstyles. Don’t just slap on cornrows and say that it’s Bo Derek braids. Take accountability, do the research, and give credit where it’s due.
3. Cut the ageism. I think society has trained women to believe that you peak in your 20s, but with age comes wisdom. Embrace and love yourself in all stages of life, whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and so forth.
What are a few of your life/career goals?
Find inner peace and get spiritually connected with God. I want to travel as much as possible and see the world.
I’ve had a long desire to open up a spa or wellness space for women to come in and relax; a zen spot. It would have estheticians that know how to handle all skin types, especially darker skin tones because we have very specific concerns and needs.
What advice would you give to your 14-year-old self?
You don’t have to change who you are to fit on. Love your African identity and don’t hide from it. Having dark skin, full lips, kinky hair- those are what make you who you are. Dream big. Work hard. Trust yourself.
What does self-care look like for you? How do you wind down after a long day at the office?
The root of self care for me is relaxation. I like to light a candle, put on some D’Angelo, and have a glass of wine. In the mornings I meditate or write in my journal. Taking a bath and using a lavender body scrub helps soothe stress.